By smblackledge


2014-12-06 03:53:22 8 Comments

Quite often (9 out of 10 times?), on radio (NPR), when the interviewer says "Thank you" to the interviewee, the reply is also "Thank you."

What has happened to "You're welcome?" Why is "You're welcome" so uncomfortable to say?

7 comments

@James McLeod 2014-12-06 03:55:40

You have it wrong. Nothing has happened to "you're welcome."

While it is certainly reasonable for the interviewer to thank the interviewe, it is not unreasonable for the interviewee to appreciate the opportunity to speak. The interviewee's thank yous should be interpreted as "no, thank you [for letting me speak]," rather than as 'you're welcome."

@dnagirl 2014-12-06 03:57:37

It's not just in interviews. You're welcome really has fallen out of common usage. I only hear it from older people any more. Maybe this is a regional thing, but I don't think so.

@Erik Kowal 2014-12-06 04:04:55

@dnagirl - I think that's fairly accurate. Today, more often than not, the response elicited by "Thank you" is not "You're welcome", but "No problem", especially from people aged under 35 or so.

@James McLeod 2014-12-06 04:06:33

I guess I count as "older," so perhaps I shouldn't answer this...

@Fengyang Wang 2014-12-06 04:08:16

I think "you're welcome" is beginning to sound arrogant (implying that the thanks is deserved) instead of polite.

@anongoodnurse 2014-12-06 04:15:34

Agree totally with this answer. It's polite to thank someone for the honor/opportunity to be featured/asked to speak.

@Patrick T. Randolph 2014-12-06 04:44:12

I don't think "you're welcome" is arrogant in any way. Plus, it also has a great deal to do with the tone that is used.

@Kris 2014-12-06 04:57:26

I am not even aware of this interpretation. I myself stopped acknowledging a "Thanks" with a "Welcome;" I have been responding with "Thanks" for quite a while now. The intention/implication is exactly the same as in saying "You are welcome," not as in this answer, I believe.

@ADTC 2014-12-06 17:33:34

I sometimes get "no worries, man" instead of "no problem"... But yeah, thank you is replied with thank you as a genuine response thanking the thanker for the opportunity. When host says "Thank you for coming over to the studio " guest saying "[No,] Thank you for having me here." shows humility, which is much more important than "social codes of conduct". Saying "you're welcome" could be seen as egoistic or a sign of arrogance that they are important and the host should feel thankful to have them there.

@James McLeod 2014-12-06 18:14:59

@ADTC - thank you, that is the generalization of what I was trying to say.

@BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft 2014-12-06 18:57:04

I can't think of a situation where "You're Welcome" would sound arrogant, unless it's said in an arrogant way.

@user568458 2014-12-06 23:57:59

@FengyangWang in my experience (UK), I seldom hear "You're welcome" and when I do, it's often a little passive aggressive, like it's implying the thanks are overdue. Using it genuinely seems to be much more common in North America, particularly in a formal context. I remember a few times in trips in USA & Canada having someone reply "You're welcome" and thinking "Are they implying that... no, wait, they actually meant it"

@James McLeod 2014-12-07 12:28:43

In Canada, "you're welcome" is sarcastic only when it is said to someone who didn't say thank you.

@Tim 2014-12-07 22:17:19

Do you think "Sure" also risks arrogance, more than "You're welcome"? english.stackexchange.com/questions/31222/…

@Craig 2014-12-07 23:03:29

Refusing to use "you're welcome" out of fear of sounding arrogant ends up making it impossible for you to accept a compliment even when one is, in fact, deserved. It also seems a little dishonest, to me. I guess I'm saying that it is least presumptive and arrogant to say what you actually mean, rather than trying to pick the most political path. People should be healthy enough to be able to give and accept gratitude and compliments, graciously of course. I also think that saying "Thank you" in response to "Thank you" is totally reasonable if you feel gratitude for the situation.

@Lightness Races in Orbit 2014-12-08 12:45:40

@dnagirl: It's absolutely regional. I can't speak for user568458's experience, but I'm in England and have perceived no reduction in "You're welcome" whatsoever.

@DoubleDouble 2014-12-08 18:00:14

"You're welcome" is still commonly used in my area of the U.S, more often in a genuine manner than not. Generally, you'd want to use it if you've done something for someone that wasn't already expected of you (and in more formal situations, you'd use it anyway) - but you wouldn't use it in a quid pro quo situation. If the person saying "Thanks" doesn't actually mean it, or hasn't even said it. A "You're welcome" is telling them that they should be thankful. In the latter case usually there is more emphasis on the sentence, rather than trying to dismiss the thoughtfulness of your action.

@Nav 2014-12-09 04:44:53

"You're welcome" has not lost its meaning and won't sound arrogant either, if done graciously.

See this conversation:
Person1: "Thank you very much for taking the time"
Person2: (smiling graciously) "You're most welcome. Thank you too for giving me the opportunity"
Person1: (smiling) "My pleasure"

Perhaps the other reason people don't say "You're welcome" is a "monkey-see-monkey-do" of observing others not saying it, and thinking that it's the right way of responding. For others, it just may be a way of making the conversation quicker (although I do agree that people might feel worried that it might sound arrogant).

@user3182445 2014-12-07 14:53:11

While I completely agree with everyone else who has answered that in the context mentioned in the question, both parties are doing a favour to each other and hence they both thank each other, I feel that at least for certain speakers of the language, '"you're welcome" is beginning to sound arrogant. I am aware that many people disagree with this opinion but this answer does not reflect the views of the entire English I speaking community. As mentioned in the comments above, a lot of people (especially of the younger generations) feel that "you're welcome" is becoming a phrase that contains hints of arrogance as if the person saying it is saying that he is DESERVING of thanks. At least with most of the speakers with whom I communicate, we tend to use phrases such as 'no worries' and 'no problems' instead of thanks, which express the sentiment that we are glad to be of service to whoever is saying 'thanks'. While "you're welcome' used to convey this sentiment some years ago, in my opinion it doesn't do so today. Maybe this can be attributed to the fact that the younger generation tends to use this phrase sarcastically. As some have pointed out, tone is of utmost importance when using this phrase as one can easily offend someone using a harsh tone.

@Craig 2014-12-07 22:30:29

What on earth is wrong with being deserving of thanks? The corollary to what you're saying is that nobody ever deserves gratitude for anything they do, in which case I guess we shouldn't go around saying "Thank you," either, because the underlying implication is that we don't really mean it.

@Daft 2014-12-08 18:04:35

I couldn't agree with you more user3182445 (wish you had a human name though). Whether in a formal or casual setting I can never bring myself to say 'You're welcome'. Personally, I think it smacks of arrogance, I've no idea why though. I would say exactly what you suggested, 'No worries','Not a problem' or 'Any time'. I guess the aim of using that sort of language might be to suggest that whatever good deed I might have done wasn't a big deal and I was happy to do it, even when it was a very big deal and I was very unhappy to do it!

@jxh 2014-12-08 23:48:05

You're welcome. in my mind means I'm happy that you're happy.

@Craig 2014-12-08 23:53:29

@Daft I believe "No worries," "Not a problem," and "Any time" are slang phrases, which is fine in an informal setting where you know somebody personally and there is no expectation of formality. In a more impersonal or more formal or professional setting, which is what much of life is comprised of, using slang like that can in itself be considered to be a little bit disrespectful, or possibly a little bit ignorant, IMHO.

@Craig 2014-12-08 23:55:05

@jxh Right? And possibly also that I'm healthy enough (no codependent fear of coming off arrogant by not using some timid slang phrase) to accept your gratitude and respond with respectful acknowledgement of the same.

@Daft 2014-12-09 00:15:35

@Craig Theres the arrogance, right on cue.

@Craig 2014-12-09 00:25:03

@Daft Wow. Just wow... ;-) dictionary.reference.com/browse/arrogant

@jxh 2014-12-09 03:41:02

Saying "You're welcome." is just good manners. There is a misconception that good manners is used to put people down, but it is just the opposite.

@jxh 2014-12-09 03:41:39

He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?...I know, I mean I thought a "gentleman" was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible. -- Blast from the Past

@curious-proofreader 2014-12-09 05:34:45

I find the explanation by user3182445 that "You're welcome" can sound arrogant absolutely baffling! Is this an age issue? These days I hear young people respond to "Thank you" by saying "Uh huh," which sounds totally arrogant to my old-man ears. How is it that our impressions are completely the opposite?

@user3182445 2014-12-09 05:40:22

@curious-proofreader "Uh-huh" definitely sounds much more arrogant that "you're welcome". What I was trying to say is that, among the younger generation, (due to the increased level of sarcasm associated with "you're welcome") "you're welcome" poses the risk of coming off as arrogant while colloqiual phrases such as "no problem" and "anytime" pose less risk of doing so.

@Irwin 2014-12-07 05:50:01

You guys are making it too complicated. I give you a simple example happening in our daily life. When you are looking for a job, at the end of the interview, the interviewer usually ends it up by saying "Thank you for your time." You wouldn't response "you are welcome" because you are clear that you are both doing each other a favor, instead of only you're doing the favors. So you probably want to say "Thank you for giving me a chance" to acknowledge his effort, too, as a human being with the basic manner. So it's the same scenario in air shows that the host and the guest are actually doing each other the favors, so they should be both thankful to each other.

@Mari-Lou A 2014-12-07 06:07:52

Truth be told, I read three posters whose answers contain the same observation. But your example is very clear, I liked it.

@R.. 2014-12-07 01:15:26

As Fengyang Wang commented on another answer, "You're welcome" runs the risk of sounding arrogant and implying that the thanks given was expected or deserved. For this reason I don't use it often, and I usually advise English learners not to use it unless they're really comfortable with its usage. There are much clearer and more meaningful/creative ways of responding to thanks such as:

  • Thank you for giving me the opportunity...
  • [It was] no problem
  • I enjoyed getting the chance to [help/whatever]
  • ...

that both avoid this risk and avoid sounding canned and insincere.

@Kevin Krumwiede 2014-12-07 05:54:53

I think this perception may have arisen from the trend of intentionally saying "you're welcome" in an entitled or sarcastic manner, drawing attention to the fact that the person being spoken to has not offered the gratitude that the speaker thinks they deserve.

@Vality 2014-12-07 07:56:12

I definitely agree with this, at least to me, saying "you're welcome" would imply that one has done a very significant favour or helped the other party out of an extremely desperate situation and if applied to something small would appear arrogant and seem to be overstating what the benefactor did. On the other hand a returned "thank-you" or "no problem" or even "no worries" implies humbleness, stating that either the inconvenience to you was nothing compared to the goodness of helping, or even that you actively benefited from what you did and are pleased of this.

@hobbs 2014-12-07 09:26:11

Overuse of "no problem" can also be problematic (heh). If you really have helped someone, and they thank you, "no problem" belittles not only the work done, but also the other person's gratitude and the underlying idea that you actually cared to help them. For trivial things, there's no problem with "no problem". For weightier things, you should acknowledge someone's gratitude, but let them know that you were willing to go out of your way because you value your relationship with them — that is, they're welcome.

@R.. 2014-12-07 17:44:25

@Vality: I agree completely.

@Tim 2014-12-07 22:16:13

Do you think "Sure" also risks arrogance, more than "You're welcome"? english.stackexchange.com/questions/31222/…

@Craig 2014-12-07 23:07:05

@Vality You are making way, way too much of this. Saying "You're welcome" is a respectful acknowledgement of the gratitude the other party expressed. If the other party is going to be offended and think you sound arrogant for your acknowledgement, that seemes to imply that the gratitude was expressed falsely. At some point on that spectrum, it seems people end up dealing with eachother not in genuine, honest terms, but in somewhat political, suspicious terms. I presume that when someone says "Thank you," that they meant it, and therefore it is appropriate for me to say "You're welcome."

@curious-proofreader 2014-12-09 05:23:45

I find this explanation odd. If someone says "Thank you" to me, I reply with "You're welcome." What I find arrogant-sounding is people who reply to "Thank you" with "Uh huh". To me that sounds like the person being thanked is saying, "Yes, you do (of course) thank me."

@R.. 2014-12-09 17:09:17

I think we're seeing a serious generational gap in these comments.

@Sincerely 2014-12-06 10:39:50

I think "you're welcome" means one person gave to the other. In situations where both parties perceive that they are receiving, they both say thank you.

@Steven Penny 2014-12-07 09:04:44

This is the correct answer. “You’re welcome” is not rude. If only one person is giving, that person could say “You’re welcome”

@Peter M. 2014-12-08 00:09:18

I listen NPR often. They finish like this: "thank you for being here" "Thank you for having me". Both are happy for the opportunity.

@Mark Rogers 2014-12-08 03:35:37

Yes, usually for a variety of reasons people are eager for the opportunity to share something on mass media. So the host is thankful for the info and the guest is thankful for the opportunity to receive attention. This kind of situation is more of a quid pro quo.

@Panzercrisis 2014-12-09 17:47:08

In a way, "you're welcome" may be more proper speech, but I sometimes get the feeling that "no problem" may be a bit more humble - and in certain informal situations, more respectful. "You're welcome" seems to do slightly more to act as though you're above the other person, as the one they're receiving from, than "no problem".

@Matthew Frederick 2016-12-21 04:37:09

I am a bit older and do use "you're welcome" when it's not a mutually beneficial situation. If I suspect the other party might take it condescendingly, I usually say something like, "you are most welcome," to indicate that I am happy to have given whatever it is.

@Patrick T. Randolph 2014-12-06 03:59:08

Nice observation. I think it really depends on "the company." If the two are somewhat "familiar" with each other perhaps "Thank you" could be more appropriate. But when the two are on less familiar terms, "You're welcome" is common. If it's radio, it could also be that the two are mutually thankful for each other.

Your question is a good one, and I recommend taking a look at Harvey Sacks (1994) "Conversation Analysis." Observations like yours are in the book and answers like mine are in there as well.

Notice, as above, when asking directions in a "foreign place," you will hear "You're welcome" more (Sacks, 1994) because the folks "want to be polite" with you.

@Patrick T. Randolph 2014-12-06 04:07:56

You may also want to look at Gail Jefferson's work on Conversational Analysis. She actually transcribed all of Sack's lectures from 1965-1975.

@Carl Smith 2014-12-07 02:17:57

You'll hear "you're welcome" when thanking someone for directions anywhere that you ask for them. It's nothing to do with wanting to be polite; why would they thank you for giving you directions?

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