Italian language: “What Can I Say Except ‘You’re Welcome’?”
- WTI Magazine #152 Jun 25, 2022
Hello dear Italian enthusiasts, today I want to talk about something simple, that sometimes is looked over: how to respond to a grazie. It’s such a simple and common part of the speech, however, it is often dismissed with a simple bookish answer and people get confused when they first encounter daily Italian responses. Let’s take a look.
The first and easy answer to respond to a grazie is prego. This is what books normally teach you. Don’t get me wrong, it is a correct and common way to respond, but it is also not the only one. In certain situations it kind of seems a bit stiff or awkward as well, almost too pompous. Just like in English, there is a plethora of many different ways and shades you can use to answer to a simple thank you.
For example, you can use non c’è di che or– which literally means “there is no (need) to” – and it probably derived from “there is nothing to thank me for.” Niente di che − “there’s nothing to” – probably shares the same origin; it just is simply a different way to shorten the expression. An even shorter version is di niente or di nulla.
Another common way to answer is figurati. This is hard to translate literally, buit it’s meaning is close to “no problem” and “don’t mention it.” Figurati is used if you are answering to a single person you are being colloquial to; figuratevi is used for more people. As you can see, it changes based on who is (and the number of people) in front of you. This can be tricky, because that means that there are different declinations to the expression. The polite form of it, for example, is si figure, which I recommend remembering, because it’s pretty handy and common. The polite form also has a variant: si immagini. The meaning of the polite forms stays the same, they are just used in different contexts. Non ti preoccupare – “don’t worry about it” – works pretty much in the same way: you could use non ti preoccupare for a single person, non vi preoccupate for two or a group, and non si preoccupi for someone you would use the lei with. Piacere mio – “my pleasure” – and è un piacere – “it’s a pleasure” – are other two different expressions that can be usen in formal and semi-formal situations. The perks of these two expressions is that they are invariable and you can use it with one person or a group of people, and you don’t have to remember different forms of it.
Diving into a more colloquial way of saying “you’re welcome”, first of all, we have non ci pensare – “don’t think about it” – which can be used for most people you don’t use the lei with. No problem which means…well, “no problem” (but you gotta say it more of an Italian cadence) is another non-formal way to respond and pretty neutral as well. But if we want to take a step further in the realm of colloquialisms, we have ma ti pare, which is usually said almost as if it was a question, and you should be careful of since in different context can have a completely different meaning. In response to a grazie, it is similar to a “don’t sweat it” or “don’t mention it.” I would use this with friends or people you are more familiar with. Another colloquial response is ma di che cosa? – “of what?” − which basically is asking the person why they are thanking you.
Now, you know many ways you can respond to a “thank you” and recognize them when you hear them too. It’s quite possible that you’ll hear them more often than a prego, and they will make you sound much more native and fluent. Now you know what to say!