How to Translate the French Expression "De Rein"

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The French phrase de rein (pronounced "deu-r yeh") is one that many students learn to translate as "you're welcome." But this common expression of courtesy actually means something slightly different. It's not considered improper or impolite to use de rein when someone thanks you, but there are other words that may be more appropriate.

Usage

The closest English equivalent to de rien is "it's nothing," which is not the nicest way to acknowledge gratitude.

De rien isn't wrong, exactly, but it's not as polite as what native French speakers typically say:

  • je vous en prie > you are welcome (literally, "I beg of you")
  • je t'en prie > you're welcome (to a friend)
  • c'est moi qui vous remercie (or just c'est moi) > no, thank you (literally, "it is I who thanks you")
  • merci à vous / toi > thank you (literally, "(my) thanks to you")
  • pas de quoi, il n'y a pas de quoi (informal) > don't mention it (literally, "no need, there's is no need")
  • avec plaisir (South of France) > my pleasure (literally, "with pleasure")

Example

Merci, j'ai beaucoup aimé ce livre. > Thank you, I really liked this book​

De rien! > You're welcome!