15

Most times, when I am thanked - I respond using no problem rather than saying you're welcome. I find it more habitual for me to say the former than the latter.

In terms of a societal standpoint, are there people out there who prefer one of the two answers? When is it best to say one answer over the other? Or is it just likable using both terms - or does the terms go better with certain situations?

  • Good answers to this question will indicate the culture they are answering from: US, UK, Australia, Singapire, etc... – curiousdannii Jun 28 '17 at 7:29
  • This seems more of a linguistic question than an interpersonal question. The OP clearly already understands there is etiquette involved in acknowledging somebody but may not understand the subtle differences between these two English phrases or how people use them interchangeably. Perhaps it would be best suited on English Learners? – Astralbee Feb 21 '18 at 13:34
4

Most times, when I am thanked - I respond using no problem

No problem is more suitable in situations where someone says sorry to you.

They made a mistake, which you didn't like, and if they said sorry, you can say no problem.

When someone is thanking you for something, you can say you're welcome.

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14

I would consider "no problem" acceptable when someone thanks you for something and it was not a problem for either of you.

If it was actually a bother to do the thing someone thanked you for, then it's dishonest to say "no problem."

If someone is thanking you for taking care of an issue they considered serious, then "no problem" minimizes their feelings about the matter.

You can use a similar process for "you're welcome:" are they actually welcome to the help? Generally speaking, "you're welcome" is a more generic response that's more likely to be accepted in all situations.

You may run into the rare person who has a pet peeve about one response or the other, but there's no good way to predict that.

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6

There is a generational shift at work here, at least in the US.

The elder generations are more likely to prefer you're welcome over no problem. I once spoke to a retired restaurant manager, for example, who talked about lecturing his waitstaff not to say no problem to customers. "Of course it's no problem -- it's your job!" he said. In his view, saying no problem was meaningless at best, and at worst impolite.

However, attitudes and expectations have shifted, and there is a subtle difference in how the younger generations perceive these phrases. You're welcome is no longer seen as a default, neutral response to being thanked. Instead, it carries undertones of one or both of:

  1. Insincerity, because you're welcome is what you say when you don't really mean it
  2. Haughtiness, because you're welcome is what you say when they should be grateful

By contrast, no problem is an honest assurance that no lasting trouble was caused, that the matter is now over, that the thanker can go on their way without feeling indebted to you at all.

To people who perceive these phrases similarly, a sincere no problem is more polite than you're welcome in most situations.

The trouble, of course, is that you may encounter people who perceive no problem as dismissive or disingenuous, like the restaurant manager above, or even some of the other answers to this question. Individual opinions are of course impossible to predict with certainty, but for the most part, I've had success tailoring my responses according to the person's age.

For people a generation or two above me, I will sometimes say you're welcome, because I know they will perceive it as polite. But for my peers, who I can be reasonably sure will interpret these phrases like I do (even if they don't consciously realize it), I will usually say no problem.

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0

It has been my understanding that in formal situations (business or sales transactions) "You're welcome" is always appropriate. The distinction is less defined in casual encounters. You open a door for someone, and they say thank you. Either response seems appropriate. On the other hand is someone has asked you to go out of your way to do something, saying "no problem" may be disingenuous so use it only if it is true.

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