HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Is "No problem" a problem?

I guess it's my credential for AARP membership, but I agree with people who bristle when younger generations say "no problem" instead of "you're welcome", "coming right up", or something else appropriate to the circumstance. On this week's Prairie Home Companion, there's a humorous sung prayer including a request that young people stop using the phrase, and on today's CBS Sunday Morning, it was essayist Bill Flanagan's (sp?) topic. "No problem" is a nice response when someone thanks you for doing something thoughtful that you were not obliged to do, like help a stranger lug a heavy item up a flight of stairs. It is not appropriate when someone thanks you for doing something that is part of your routine job duties, like a barista dispensing coffee, or a waiter filling your request for a glass ot water. Flanagan addresses people born after 1980, advising that if they want good tips, or simply to avoid pissing off people who wre born BEFORE 1980, they should only say "no problem" when the thing they did, or are about to do, can be rightly construed as presenting a difficulty.

Amen, I found myself thinking. But I've never said such a thing to anyone in a younger generation. I wonder if they would appreciate being clued in, or just think it's a ridiculous geezer thing. Does the conflation of
"no problem" with "you're welcome" bug you and if so, do you speak up?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do you put as much thought into your response to 'How are you?'

    I haven't heard 'no problem' much, though it does not sound odd. It sounds as though it has become, in some circles, one of those automatic responses (like 'finethankyou').

    If you are this barista's boss or English teacher, by all means, correct her. If a customer, I'd say, just move on and let the next customer order.

    1. It sounds like I'm about the same age and I have no problem (sorry, there's no other way to say that) with "no prob".

      I use it myself. It means happy to be of service in a variety of circumstances and communicates that just fine. Especially accompanied by a smile.

      Language is a fluid thing. Flow with it. ; >

      1. Its informal and therefore fine for informal restaurants.

        May I ask your age?

        1. It's good for geezers (I include myself) to uphold correct use of standard English, but it is ridiculous to "bristle" at the casual use of the language by others, whether by young people or others. If you clue them in to their use of "no problem" they most definitely will not appreciate it but will merely think you are a (insert pejorative term of your choice here).

          1. I do not care for the use of "no problem", "not a problem", (uh, thanks? i guess i didnt realize I might be creating a problem for you...) and the cringe-worthy "my bad" in place of "I'm sorry".
            I also admit to having a snobby reaction to it, internally. Can't help thinking the speaker just doesn't know any better, missed out on good training. (I know, who do I think I am? :) ).

            Still, I try to focus on the intent and let it go. UNLESS you're one of my kids. Then I can't help at least discussing it so they know that it isn't considered polite by some.

            God help us, they don't even teach cursive in the schools anymore. How's a curmudgeon like me supposed to sleep at night? :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: bonoeuf

              I really don't think it has anything to do with good or bad manners, and I think the intent is usually well meant on the person using them. I really do think its a generational gap. It seems that over time language has become more casual, for good or for bad depending on who you are. I will say that I'm extremely good at subconsciously adapting my language to who I'm speaking to.

              1. re: SaraAshley

                Completely understand. That's why I said I go with intent.
                I will say, however, that it isn't as much the informality that bugs me as it is the inference.

                To respond to my gratitude by stating that I wasn't a problem just doesn't seem gracious to me.
                To each his own, though. I'm not trying to apply my standard to others, though I do have a personal opinion about it.

                1. re: bonoeuf

                  When taken literally to the point that "no problem" really is implying that you weren't a problem to them, I can see your point. I sort of see "no problem" to imply the same as "my pleasure." Which when taken literally, it doesn't mean the same thing, but that's just how I've always thought of it.

            2. Interesting. I had never given it much thought, but after reading your post, now I'm trying to think of the last occasion where I've used "you're welcome" in a similar way that you're describing. I don't work in a restaurant, but I do deal with customers, as well as clients. Most of my communication with both is via email and if I receive a respone back from either just saying thank you for something I did, I don't respond with anything. If I were to receive a response back saying something like "thank you Sara and I hope you have a great weekend" (which I sometimes do receive these responses) I would respond with "no problem, thank you and I hope you enjoy your weekend, as well." I would say I'm more likely to say "you're welcome" in person, but again I can't remember the last time I did.

              As far as non-professional communication, like with friends, I also almost always say "no problem" and a lot of times since its via text, I abbreviate and say "np." The only time I ever say anything similar to "you're welcome" to them is when telling them my plans for the evening and I say "you're more than welcome to join." I also know I frequently respond to a thank you with saying thank you back. Like "thanks so much for having me over Sara" "no, thank you for coming, it was fun."

              If it matters, I'm 28.

              13 Replies
              1. re: SaraAshley

                A little OT, but just something to think about: Maybe it's just me, but when someone, even my SO, says, "You're more than welcome to join us/come along," I feel technically welcome, but really like an afterthought who wasn't wanted in the first place. Often this will deter me from going, because I feel like a tag-along. I feel more welcomed if someone says, "Can you join us?" or "Will you be able to make it?", etc.

                1. re: juster

                  Very astute observation of the use of language. As I often tell people the devil is in the details.

                  1. re: juster

                    "You're more than welcome to join us." I feel the same way--why wasn't I invited in the first place? I'd rather hear "Would you like to join us?" or your suggestions.

                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                      I agree on the "you're more than welcome" invite--it feels like a one-off. Maybe not exactly passive-aggressive, but definitely B-list invitee. I'd say 'why don't you come with us?'

                    2. re: juster

                      You're more than welcome is a passive aggresive way of saying we really don't want you to come.

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          Can you offer an example that illustrates what you mean? Because if I make plans for Friday night with Person A, and Person B subsequently asks if I'm free that evening, I will say "I'm going out with Person A, but you're more than welcome to join us." I'm not being passive aggressive in any way, shape or form. I'm just opening up the guest list to someone I just learned wanted to be on it.

                          1. re: small h

                            Yes, it seems as if you don't really want the person there. It is the offer given when it is expected but not really wanted. It isn't always used in this manor and is sometimes sincere but mostly it comes across as phony

                            1. re: MVNYC

                              Well, it beats the hell out of "you're less than welcome," if you ask me. I've never used the phrase insincerely. I wouldn't ask someone to join me if I didn't want her there.

                              1. re: small h

                                Don't take it personally. I am sure you sincerely mean it but I have encountered many people who don't. Unfortunately there are those times you run into someone you are acquainted with but don't really like. Sometimes common courtesy dictates that you invite that person where you are going(drinks, etc.) and that phrase is what has been uttered. People in awkward situations do awkward things sometimes.

                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  Oh, that I could definitely see. "Oh, hi! What a surprise to run into you. We were just on our way to dinner. You're...welcome to join us." But that's not really passive aggressive. It's just fake-friendly.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    I agree with you. I think it's the formality of the wording ,"You're more than welcome...". It makes the invitation feel forced whereas ,"Hey, come with us." or those other alternatives feel warmer and more sincere.

                      1. speaking as an old geezer myself,

                        i would agree with those that think this issue ACTUALLY IS a <<RIDICULOUS GEEZER THING.>>

                        1. Yikes, my Australian, and l am not Australian, 'No worries' may be yet another thing l am doing incorrectly. l thought l was OK as l never added the 'mate'.
                          Please crucify me on this one as well as No Prob if appropriate.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            Well, I went off on "no worries," before I read your post. Here's the thing:

                            "You're welcome" communicates, "You, Mr./Ms. Customer, are important to me and I'm glad to be serving you." "No worries" or "no problem" communicates, "You're less than my top priority, I've got bigger fish to fry, but you didn't get in the way."

                            Put another way, would an old school, high class professional waiter answer "no worries" or "you're welcome" to a customer's "thank you"?

                            Yes, it's a little detail, but society is made up of little details. Isn't this how Rome fell, after all?

                            1. re: EarlyBird

                              "Yes, it's a little detail, but society is made up of little details. Isn't this how Rome fell, after all?"
                              It's more accurate to say that Rome fell from an accumulation of big details.

                              Put in perspective, these big details would be less like a change in colloquialisms and more like generations of young people screwed ruthlessly by economic and social policy while everyone older pretends it isn't happening and hates on them because they're 'entitled' and prefer to use laid back-sounding idioms in customer service situations.

                              (ok, mods, I probably have this deletion coming)

                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                Goodness. "No worries" does not communicate that to me at all. Not at all. Not even close. And "You're welcome" communicates a wide range of things, not always as pleasant as you have written. Often, it communicates a robotic response to thank you.

                                1. re: EarlyBird

                                  Include me among the people who are skeptical of the idea that Rome fell due to "faulty" idiom usage.

                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                    "No worries" typically is a response to an unnecessary apology. It's no problem as far as I am concerned.

                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                      Context and intent is what is important to me. When I pass on ordering any alcohol, I'll take a cheery no problem over a stilted thank you for your order anytime because the waiter is unhappy over a smaller bill and tip.

                                      Never mind that we are ordering more food and a bigger bill than the table next to us who only got two entrees and a $20 bottle of wine.

                                  2. I caught the same essay on CBS Sunday Morning with Bill the first time it aired.

                                    Knowing that Bill is also a music industry mogul who helped bring MTV and the music video genre to television makes me smile; to witness his take on aging and generational differences. I can relate. And relate often to his pov.

                                    However, the term does not bother me. I use "no problem" and np correctly and incorrectly (according to Bill) and I'm a youthful geezer.

                                    No problem is just one in a long line of revamped terminology. What's OLD is NEW (again). But at the end of it all (for me anyway) life is too short to stand on ceremony. And, fwiw, I miss the musical reviews Bill provided on CBS Sunday Morning more.

                                    1. I'm only concerned with what I do.

                                      I'm of the 'older' generation.
                                      I say 'thank you' and when someone thanks me I respond with 'you're welcome'.
                                      I've never said 'no problem'.
                                      'You're welcome' does the job for me and there's closure.
                                      'No problem' leaves the exchange a little open-ended for my taste.
                                      I would, however, never 'clue them in'.
                                      I don't find it a problem.

                                      1. Is this in response to you yelling 'Hey you kids, get off my lawn!" ?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: thegforceny

                                          While launching an old shoe in their general direction...

                                        2. Sometimes I think it is more humble to say 'No problem'. It's hard to explain but sometimes if someone thanks me (for doing my job) a "You're welcome" almost seems like "Yes you should be thanking me." Am i cuckoo? Anyways, I also says "No problem" as a reflex sometimes. This is just one of those circumstances where the general meaning behind the words is more important that the words themselves.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Meowzerz

                                            This is how I feel. I use "no problem" at work all the time when a client thanks me for doing something I should be doing anyway. To me, "no problem" says "No need to thank me, I'm here to serve you.". I'm 31.

                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                              Very well said. I was struggling how to describe my use of the term, but this sums it up well.

                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                This is the way I've always assumed it was meant. I'm 56. I think I've even said it myself.

                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                  I'm similar to you in age and thinking.

                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                    I'm 20 years older than you and feel exactly the same way.

                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                      Oh yeah?! Well, young whipper snapper, in my day...!

                                                      Actually, I don't like "no problem" or its variants, but if this is what you youngsters with your hip hop and your I pads are meaning when you use that phrase, I can deal. (It's just "deal," right?)

                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                        I'm super psyched that I' a youngster now. Even though I don't use an iPad.

                                                    2. re: Meowzerz

                                                      In Japanese, when students learn the language they are taught that the right way to say "you're welcome" is "doo itashimashite". However, people don't say that very often, because it does not sound sufficiently humble -- it sounds like the person is asking for some kind of appreciation. Literally it means something like "how (or what) can I do".

                                                      It's more common for people to just say "iie iie", which literally means "no no".

                                                      Maybe the Japanese have made this linguistic change a few generations before Americans.

                                                      1. I’m with you, grey. Drives me nuts. The younger doormen in my building hold the door for me. I say “Thank you.” They say “No problem.” I want to say, “Damn right it’s not a problem. It’s your JOB!”

                                                        Yes, I’ve been collecting social security for a while. I also offer as an excuse that I was an editor for more than 40 years. So “awesome” drives me equally nuts. Whatever is spoken of as being awesome is rarely awesome. And whatever is spoken of as being fabulous is practically never fabulous. And don’t get me started on eager/anxious, which/that, nauseated/nauseous, over/more than. But do I ever mention it? Only when I’m being paid to do so.

                                                        22 Replies
                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          OMGosh....I'm a retired editor, too, of a UPI daily and your examples of word usage are exactly my pet peeves, especially which/that and over/more than. A dog jumps over the fence. The planned budget is more than $2,000. It is NOT over $2,000. Unless the dog jumps over $2,000 in one-dollar bills...tee hee.

                                                          1. re: pilotgirl210

                                                            While the first definition of 'over' (in the American Heritage Dict) is positional,

                                                            prep. 9. More than in degree, quantity, or extent: over ten miles

                                                            adj 2.a. In excess; excessive

                                                            There are many words and phrases that use 'over' in connection with a monetary quantity: overbudget, overcapitalize, overdraft, overestimate, overhead (both positional and monetary uses), overpay.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              True, paulj. I don't disagree. I was, however, required to follow the UPI style book, which set the standard that *over* is, as you say, *directional* while *more than/less than related to quantities. My favorite style rule: *Burrow is a hole in the ground. Burro is an ass. As a journalist, you're expected to know the difference.*

                                                              1. re: pilotgirl210

                                                                << As a journalist, you're expected to know the difference.>>

                                                                +1. Or, any good writer.

                                                                My sense is that grammar mistakes repeated over and over become "acceptable" over time, but really should never be acceptable in writing for publication (or writing for any venue) or even speech.

                                                                The stylebooks (UPI, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) are a great instruction in proper usage. Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" is still brilliant.

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  claims the White was a good writer (Charlotte's Web), but a terrible grammarian. The style advice is 'mostly harmless', but 'the grammatical advice ... is so misplaced and inaccurate that counterexamples often show up in the authors' own prose on the very same page.'

                                                                  Is it coincidence that S&W became a Style standard in the mid 20th century, about the same time that "You're welcome" appeared in print?

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    When you write for publication, you have to follow the usage rules of the stylebook used by the publisher or employer.

                                                                    But the stylebook rules are very useful for everyday writing and certainly writing for work/business writing.

                                                                    There's so much great stuff in "The Elements of Style." E.B. White could teach us all a thing or two about writing. I found the Edinburgh professor's article you linked to curmudgeonly. But I don't wish to argue about this -- you either value the book, or you don't. If that stylebook doesn't work for you, find another to use to make your writing better.

                                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    "My sense is that grammar mistakes repeated over and over become "acceptable" over time" -- what's grating on me these days is the accepted use of "I" and "me" incorrectly, as in "Joe and me are going out," or "give it to Joe and I." Seems most folks don't care, but it's fingernails on the blackboard time for this oldster.

                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                      Grammar mistakes/idioms repeated over time are language development. It's the reason we don't speak Olde English or Proto West Germanic.

                                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                                        Yes indeed. And my mother was an English teacher! I heard plenty of this kind of finger-wagging growing up. But the older and more geezerly she got, the more she took this evolutionary line on English useage.

                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                          MVNYC: Yes, sigh, you are right. I tell myself this every time I hear, "these ones" and "diddent", and when I see, "the car's are pretty". I doesn't always work for me, though.

                                                                        2. re: pine time

                                                                          It's fingernails on the blackboard for me too.

                                                                          1. re: pine time


                                                                            discusses this I/me error. It suggests that the use of I in 'give it to Joe and I' is a result of over emphasis on correcting 'Me and Joe are going out', correcting that was done without explaining the nature of the error(s). But it also concedes that
                                                                            " This error may be an indication that English is losing the distinction between "I" and "me" for this confusion was also a problem in Shakespeare's day."

                                                                            2nd person has already lost most distinctions it might have had, with 'you' working for both singular and plural, subject and object (as well as the formal/familiar).

                                                                            This I/me usage has to be drilled into kids in school because it does not carry much of an information load. In the example sentences, 'Joe' does not change, even though its function does. If other nouns don't change, why should the pronouns?

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in school, we were taught to "drop" Joe and decide which to use, i.e. in, "Me and Joe are going out," would you say "I am going out," or "Me is going out"--whichever is correct without Joe is correct with Joe. Rather than getting into long didactics, it was a simple way of teaching.

                                                                              I guess to keep this food-related, maybe Joe and me/myself/I are going out to a restaurant!

                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                Yes that is a way of checking it. It probably is still taught that way. But I'm not going to use that test unless there is a little seed of doubt about the incorrect use.

                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                  I learned the usage of I/me the same way. I wish it were still taught that way. Perhaps grammar, like cursive writing, isn't emphasized anymore, in favor of creative thinking etc.

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Currently there's a TV brouhaha because a Wheel of Fortune contestant trying to solve the puzzle pronounced "corner curio cabinet" so unintelligibly that his answer was rejected and his opponent won. Either he was nervous or really didn't know the correct pronunciation. Public opinion seems to be on his side, but in real life, you don't get a trophy for participating. The line here may have been drawn in draconian fashion, but do you really want your chef to be the product of a culinary program wherein theory is more important than execution?

                                                                                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                      I still remember my first shocked moment in education when my son's teacher gushed excitedly about how they allowed "creative spelling" so that the children's imaginations wouldn't be crushed by criticism.

                                                                                2. re: pine time

                                                                                  Don't forget that goodie: "Thanks for inviting Joe and myself."

                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                    my PhD candidate daughter talks this way. Why? Its horrid.

                                                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                      Are you referring to the 'me and joe' usage? My guess is that it is a speech pattern that became ingrained during toddler years. Grade school teachers can change how we write things, especially for formal use, but they don't change how we speak. I learned to speak English from my parents, not my teachers.

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        Kids also learn from their wretched little friends.

                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                            Don't forget less/fewer. Or bring/take.

                                                                          3. You wouldn't be "cluing them in" so much as you'd be just expressing your personal semantics preferences.

                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                              It's more than just my semantic preference, as evidenced by the media mentions, and the variety of opinions expressed on this thread. I agree that it's a generational difference but since I doubt that many people half my age are devotees of PHC or Sunday Morning, these mentions preach to the choir.
                                                                              It's analogous to unintentionally offending when you are traveling abroad and do not know that in XYZLand it's polite to belch at the end of the meal to indicate that you enjoyed it. If you work in a service industry and respond with "no problem" when someone old enough to be your parent thanks you for doing something that's part of your responsibility, you probably don't realize that s/he may be thinking you are being condescending and think you have much more important things to do than help her/him. If your job involves tip income, you can never go wrong by responding pleasantly to the thanks with "you're welcome", "my pleasure", "that's what I'm here for", etc.
                                                                              The "no problem", on the other hand, MIGHT result in a smaller tip. I see explaining this as doing the "NP" user a kindness. And if I do it, and am thanked for the info, THAT is an appropriate time to say, "no problem". As Flanagan said, in a few more decades today's geezers will all be dead, and the future geezers can NP to their hearts' content.

                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                there is no way that anyone on the planet can live their life without offending someone -- intentionally or not.

                                                                                There's simply no way to accommodate people who choose to be offended.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  You hit that nail right on the head, sunshine.

                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                    Ditto (gosh I hope the word ditto isn't offending someone on the planet)!

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      It has to - there are those on Chowhound who are offended when someone agrees with a post and issues a, "+1". Life's too short.

                                                                                2. re: greygarious

                                                                                  What I find interesting is why, of all the things in this world (or even of all the linguistic idioms we use in American English) -- you pick "no problem" as one deserving of special disdain. What's so offensive?

                                                                                  In your example, you say "no problem" should not be used as a response to "thank you" when the action is a normal part of one's duties -- I don't get it. The real question in this situation is -- why is one saying "thank you" in the first place? In this situation, "no problem" is the perfect answer, because both parties actually agree that it really is no problem, and the person saying "no problem" is simply responding to an incorrectly-placed "thank you" and would rather not play out an artificial exchange to highlight one's own effort.

                                                                                  In Spanish, when someone says "gracias" ("thank you"), the most commonly-used response (across all generations) is "de nada" (which means "you're welcome" but more literally means something like "it's nothing.") Would you have a similar issue with virtually all Spanish people who use this phrase?

                                                                                  1. re: calumin

                                                                                    and "de rien", the common-use French for "you're welcome" is literally translated as "from nothing"

                                                                                    the highly-formal "je vous en prie" is almost never heard in day-to-day conversation.

                                                                                      1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                        see calumin's post just above mine.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          And it was also mentioned below - apologies for not reading carefully before posting. My post brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        That was the first thing I thought of. (I don't know Spanish. :) )

                                                                                        All of these are little polite formulae -- they mean "I am adhering to a social script". "No problem" is just a different version of the script. The problem comes when people's scripts don't match -- then we actually notice the words.

                                                                                        After all, who actually thinks "yours truly" on a letter means that you're saying you belong to the addressee? Etc.

                                                                                      3. re: calumin

                                                                                        I immediately thought of "de nada" when I read the OP. I think I have used "no problem" here and there for many years (I'm late 40s), but I would guess it has increased since I started working on my Spanish and visiting Spain.

                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                          Me too. I think I'm going to start using "de nada" from now on since "no problem" has the potential to irk many.

                                                                                  2. I have no problem with "no problem", either.

                                                                                    I'm usually delighted to have someone who's either doing his/her job or (shock) doing a little something extra..."No problem" means that they didn't find it a problem (even if it was part of their job) and that they're capable of spoken communication.

                                                                                    1. Where does 'you're welcome' come from?

                                                                                      "You're welcome as a formulaic response to thank you is attested from 1907"


                                                                                      Think for minute about the etymology of 'welcome'. "one whose coming is pleasant, a welcome person or thing, a guest" (Wikidictionary). In Spanish 'bienvenido' this connection with 'welcoming a guest' is a little more obvious.

                                                                                      'no problem', while not conventional by earlier standards, may actually be more thoughtful.

                                                                                      The Spanish “de nada” conveys a sense of 'you con't owe me anything', the service was freely given, it's nothing, it was not a problem.

                                                                                      gives a number of Spanish equivalents, including a 'no es nada', which is even closer to 'it isn't a problem (or is nothing)'.

                                                                                      1. I know where you are coming from grey, mine is "Awesome".

                                                                                        1. Often, when I'm at work, my response to "thank you" is "yes, ma'am/sir". Haha I have no idea if that's more or less annoying than "no problem". I must admit I don't care.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                            you've responded with actual words and acknowledged the "thank you".

                                                                                            No problem.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              True. I suppose that's the important part. I have no problem with "no problem".

                                                                                          2. I have no prob with "no problem". OTOH an older woman I work with always says "no worries". That worried me for a bit but it doesn't me worry me any more..

                                                                                            There was also that teenage girl at my local grocery store who called me " honey or sweetie".

                                                                                            Some things you just need to get over and not let it bother you too much.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                              Oooo....my office assistant called me sweetie at first. I didn't say anything but she stopped.

                                                                                            2. I see that many here disagree with greygarious, but to me the term 'no problem' sounds like a short version of "I thought you were going to be a problem, but you weren't".

                                                                                              Yes, I know , that's not what you young 'uns are saying at all, but some of us who perhaps were raised with a bit more formal way of speaking have a 'problem' with some overly casual speech habits these days. Our bad.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                "Our bad." HA HA HA... good one. I use no problem sometimes when a guest thanks me over and over again. I doubt I will use it in the future.

                                                                                                1. re: mrsfury

                                                                                                  "No problem" is no problem for me, but "my bad" makes my teeth itch.

                                                                                              2. I usally respond with " sure thing, Of course It is what I do, anytime or happy to have helped" Not a problem seems awkard to me..

                                                                                                1. It's not a problem for me at all. Every English country in the world has it's differences in language and now with internet and ease of travel the already fluid language changes faster.

                                                                                                  Aa long as they are acknowledging my thank you, you are welcome, No problem, no worries, etc does not bother me in the slightest.

                                                                                                  1. Doesn't bother me in the least since I'm used to the French and Spanish versions.

                                                                                                    1. I am a petulant Gen Xer, and in coastal Southern CA (land of coeds), I am an old geezer. "No problem" does not come off poorly to me. Their reply is at least a courteous, albeit informal and newish, remark. It seems to be the vernacular and I've found myself uttering it.

                                                                                                      What I do have a problem with is "uh hm" in response to my "thank you."

                                                                                                      When the person can not be bothered to utter an actual word, it curdles my blood.

                                                                                                      And while I'm on this topic, I will also express (yet again) my disdain for NO response to a greeting. This has happened rarely in the food service I dusty, mostly in retail.


                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: globocity

                                                                                                        Going a bit off-topic, but what really peeves me are random courteous gestures that I do for strangers and don't receive a thank you for. Such as holding the door open for them.

                                                                                                        1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                          Me, too! As though you work for them so of course you're holding the door, or whatever.

                                                                                                          I see a variation of this on the CTA all the time. People situate themselves in the aisle in such a way (even if there is room for them elsewhere) that you are forced to say excuse me or whatever, to make your own way on, off, or through the bus.

                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                            Yes!! That is exactly how I feel about it. As if they're entitled to it, and therefore don't owe you a thank you. Makes me want to yell "you're welcome" back to them, haha, ironic!

                                                                                                          2. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                            This is actually the only time I say "you're welcome". Usually with a snarky tone.

                                                                                                            Other than that, it really is "no worries or no problem"

                                                                                                        2. More on the history of 'you're welcome'

                                                                                                          From Shakespeare
                                                                                                          Lodovico: Madam, good night; I humbly thank your ladyship.
                                                                                                          Desdemona: Your honour is most welcome.

                                                                                                          From 1907 short story
                                                                                                          “Thank you,” said the girl, with a pleasant smile. “You’re quite welcome,” said the skipper.


                                                                                                          The earliest reference in the OED is from a 1960 newspaper article

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            The more I think about it, the less "you're welcome" makes sense. What are they welcome to? Your time? Your work? Your good will?

                                                                                                            Something along the lines of "It's my pleasure" makes more sense, I think.

                                                                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                              I agree with you -- the formal French "je vous en prie" translates literally to I pray to you or I beg you....so I did something for you, but I'm begging *you*?

                                                                                                              Doesn't make a lick of sense from a logical standpoint, but it is what it is (and it's very formal, so when you hear it, it's probably not a good time to question the motives of the speaker).

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                I would venture to say that "je vous en prie" could mean "please let me ( i beg you to let me) have the pleasure/honor to help you"

                                                                                                                (It is very classy and not a lot of people use it anymore, unfortunately)

                                                                                                          2. How about "hows it tasting for you?", "melty", if I want a call brand at the bar, I will ask for one, "change it up", even "to die for", I could go on for days........

                                                                                                            1. Repeated this morning on CBS Sunday Morning...

                                                                                                              Commentary by Bill Flanagan:

                                                                                                              "No problem: Yes, it's a BIG problem"

                                                                                                              Video at:

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                  I just sent that link out to about 15 people, Thank you!

                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine


                                                                                                                    "PLEASE, only say "No problem" when there is a reasonable expectation that the task you are performing might be PROBLEMATIC."

                                                                                                                    And only say 'welcome' when greeting a guest?

                                                                                                                    Is his ending use of 'welcome' appropriate?
                                                                                                                    Just hold off till then, okay? Okay.

                                                                                                                    You're welcome.

                                                                                                                  2. I do not have a problem with "no problem". The American English language is truly a work in progress, which is demonstrated by annual addition of words into the Oxford dictionary each year. Along with new words new phrases or ways of expressing yourself come and go as well. My most recent adoption into my vocabulary was the term, "my bad", a phrase to be used in exchange of "I'm sorry".

                                                                                                                    1. I am a geezerette and have no problem with "no problem". I actually used to use it myself after multiple visits to Jamaica decades ago, where it was the reply to just about every question.

                                                                                                                      As far as lecturing the Gen X and Yers who use it instead of "You're welcome", I don't think so. I would guess they could no more fathom the implications of this phrase than I could my use of "You're welcome" (at least prior to reading this thread-Thanks, Chowhounds!).
                                                                                                                      I'm just pleased to receive an acknowledgement of my "Thank

                                                                                                                      My pet peeve is "amazing". I may very well enjoy and
                                                                                                                      appreciate a cup of coffee, a walk in the park and a new pair of jeans but I sincerely doubt that I will be amazed by any of them. Sadly, this usage is not confined to the youngsters; my group of fellow geezerettes are guilty of this as well.

                                                                                                                      Now get off my lawn!

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                                                                        I rarely use the word 'amazing'. For me, it's saved for...

                                                                                                                        A sky full of bright stars, a sunset or a beautiful rainbow....
                                                                                                                        I suspect all of these words/phrases i.e.:

                                                                                                                        "Amazing", "whatever", "no problem", they all trigger something different in everyone, no matter what the age.

                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                          If everyone stopped using words like fantastic, awesome, fabulous, terrific, etc. in their modern usages, I don't know what we'd have to replace them!

                                                                                                                          As an off-topic sidebar, and because etymology sometimes fascinates me, doesn't the word "defenestrate" sound far more sinister than it is? I mean, it's bad, don't get me wrong. But it sounds just vile!

                                                                                                                      2. I'm old, but I'll take "no problem" over "I'm good" any day.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: elenacampana


                                                                                                                          That one doesn't bother me at all.

                                                                                                                          1. re: elenacampana

                                                                                                                            Me: "Would you like a sandwich before you leave for baseball practice?"

                                                                                                                            Son: "I'm good"

                                                                                                                            Me: The correct answer is either "yes, please" or "no, thanks."

                                                                                                                            Son: "Chill, mom."

                                                                                                                            Drives me a tad crazy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                              I still don't know if he wanted a sandwich!

                                                                                                                            2. They don't mean the same thing, or at least, they don't imply the same thing.

                                                                                                                              "You're welcome" implies that the person was happy to oblige; "No problem" implies that they did it only because it was easy.

                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                                                                                I think it is a mistake to read any meaning into either response.

                                                                                                                                We were taught to say 'You're welcome' in response to 'Thankyou', as the polite thing to do, not because we felt one way or other about the task. It's as meaningful as 'Fine, thankyou' in response to 'How are you'.

                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                  I was taught to say thank you in response to thank you

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kalivs

                                                                                                                                    Is it "thank you's" all the way down? :)

                                                                                                                                2. re: WNYamateur

                                                                                                                                  That certainly is not how I interpret "no problem."

                                                                                                                                  1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                                                                                    If you think really, really hard about it, I suppose it might.

                                                                                                                                    Next topic. Someone replies "fine" when you ask "how are you?" WHAT DO THEY REALLY MEAN???

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                      'fine' means 'the state of my health is none of your business!'. :)

                                                                                                                                  2. Language changes, I know this... sametime, 'no problem' instead of 'you're welcome' grates in my ear every single time I hear it.


                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: FishTales

                                                                                                                                      We aren't talking about 'no problem' instead of 'thankyou'.

                                                                                                                                    2. How about the more formal, "Not a problem."

                                                                                                                                        1. It's only a problem when people want to create a problem where none really exist. I personally think people who nitpick perfunctory responses have a problem.

                                                                                                                                          1. Sorry... sounds like a bad case of grumpy-old-git-itis... 'no problem' 'no worries' 'of course' 'coming right up' etc etc are all equally good. (and I was born ten years before your cut-off date...)

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                              Oh yeah. The 1980 thing. I was born before 1970, and I have no problem with "no problem."

                                                                                                                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                *pulls up a chair and sits at the table with the geezers with no problems*

                                                                                                                                            2. My boss has a thing about not saying or implying a negative to a client or guest, so "no problem" is not to be said. Better to just say "you're welcome" or anything positive.

                                                                                                                                              My language issues have to do with people saying "I had xxx happen to me." As in "I had my house robbed." Really? You caused your house to be robbed? Have/had is a possessive word, so it implies that you initiated the action. Drives me nuts to hear it used incorrectly.

                                                                                                                                              I don't know if I qualify as an "old geezerette" but I'm in my late fifties.

                                                                                                                                              17 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                'have' can also mean 'experience'

                                                                                                                                                I had a good good meal there.
                                                                                                                                                I had trouble finding that restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                I had a bad experience there.

                                                                                                                                                'My house was robbed' does sound more natural, but 'I had my house robbed' puts more emphasis on the experience, and less on 'the house'.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  "I have experience" is still a possessive action. "I" initiated or caused the action, or it actually happened to me. Not the same at "I had my house robbed." "My house was robbed."

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not an English teacher, and can only wonder what grammar is being taught today. Admittedly, language does change and I see media as a force of change. Another thing that rankles: "xxx restaurant, anyone been?" instead of "xxx restaurant, has anyone been there?" or similarly chopped verbiage. "Want a new car?" instead of "Do you want a new car?"

                                                                                                                                                  I know I shouldn't sweat the small stuff (and really, I don't) but if we're talking language issues, these are mine.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                    How about: I had a car wreak.?

                                                                                                                                                    Is this closer to 'I wreaked my car' or 'My car was wreaked'?
                                                                                                                                                    Or in some way distinct from both?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                      I've wreaked havoc a few times, but I don't think I've ever wreaked my car....

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        It's the havoc I'd like to hear about... :>)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          'wreak' did look a bit odd, but it passed the spell test. :) Without the spell checker you'd see a lot more that in my posts. With it I'm more likely to omit little words - ones that escape my attention during editing.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            I blame spell check for the loser vs. looser epidemic.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                              I think you give people too much credit. Lots of people are simply crappy spellers.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                So many people...so many people...

                                                                                                                                                                Now "payed" is making its way in there, too. I weep.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                              Evan win ewes thee smell chucker, ewe kin steel mike miss steaks.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            "I wrecked my car" would be correct, if I caused the action (I hit something).

                                                                                                                                                            "My car was wrecked" would be correct, (a) if someone did it to my car, but (b) it could also be possessive, if there is an explanation that should follow if I caused the action.

                                                                                                                                                            (a) "My car was wrecked when an idiot in a Mercedes hit my car when I was stopped at a traffic light."
                                                                                                                                                            (b) "My car was wrecked Saturday night when I hit a tree."

                                                                                                                                                          3. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                            I agree that, "My house was robbed" is clearer. But "I have" as experienced is not really possessive. It is not "I have experience...." It is, "I experience(d). In our home invasion example, it would be better stated as "I had (experienced) my house being robbed" than as "I had my house robbed."

                                                                                                                                                            So with food,
                                                                                                                                                            I had an amazing meal last night does not mean that you possessed an amazing meal; it means that you experienced an amazing meal.

                                                                                                                                                            Or something like that.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                              I see your point and would go so far as to further clarify my intent on possessives: "I had an amazing meal." I had the meal/experience, no one else had it in the context of the sentence, and other than the cook/service staff/etc no one else caused the action. I wouldn't say, "an amazing meal happened to me." "I had an amazing meal" is correct in all contexts. IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                          "My boss has a thing about not saying or implying a negative to a client or guest, so "no problem" is not to be said."

                                                                                                                                                          That's a good point that nobody's really touched on. I agree entirely with your boss. When I write a proposal for a kitchen cabinet project, I don't ever say "such and such not included". I say "such and such to be provided by builder". This leaves a positive impression with the client.

                                                                                                                                                          Perhaps our dislike of the "no problem" response has something to do with our perception of negativity in the words. Interesting thought to chew on....

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                            Appropriateness is the issue with "No problem." It's said in response to something that may be a problem for the person saying it, but then isn't.

                                                                                                                                                            The video goes into that appropriate usage and the lack of it:

                                                                                                                                                        3. I am surprised with the kind of answers this Q had.
                                                                                                                                                          I don't have an issue with the 'no problem' thing but it's like a bunch of people fell ass backwards trying to prove that someone who didn't agree with them was a "geezer"......

                                                                                                                                                          55 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NanaMoussecurry

                                                                                                                                                            I am guessing that many folks, myself included, were joshing around because of the OP's use of the AARP credential phrase, and the "ridiculous geezer" phrase.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: debbiel


                                                                                                                                                              I'm surprised we're even attributing Bill Flanagan with such insight and wisdom. Bill is Mr. MTV/VH1 guy. An early video pioneer; a music Exec. A younger Bill would have scoffed at this older guys take on wordsmithing.

                                                                                                                                                              Bill once held a different perspective; a much more relaxed view. So maybe the take away here is that time sometimes changes our perspective. Once we were the youthful, hip fellow and then one day we realize we've become the shaky finger pointing at the younger generation with impatience.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                Bill Flanagan has covered the rock scene and been a music writer his entire professional career. He's been an essayist on CBS Sunday Morning for many years. He's an astute observer of culture. Of course, he's changed as he's grown older, as life changes us all. He's still hip.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                  As I said (twice on this thread).

                                                                                                                                                                  Still hip and now pointing his finger at a younger culture. That's my point. He's made a living on his generation and generations that came after. Lighten up, Bill.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                    I like that Flanagan pointed out that "No Problem" was a usage error.

                                                                                                                                                                    Doesn't have to do with being old, or older, young or younger, tight or light, hip or not. Has to do with usage.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                      On that we will disagree. I am older, my oldest child is 43. And when I see such debates play out I most certainly believe age has everything to do with perspective. I don't believe having Bill express his opinion is random on CBS SM. He speaks for a certain generation and his context as a writer and music mogul comes with those expressed opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                      And, ml I can respect yours as well.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                        Yep, back atcha with respect.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll tell you what gets me about this. Perhaps another person has brought it up already, but I'll share my perspective. The first part of this Flanagan touched on as well.

                                                                                                                                                                        Used correctly, "No problem" is said in response to something that might be a problem, but isn't. That's the usage parameter.

                                                                                                                                                                        So when I order something at a restaurant or at a counter, like a coffee, and the waitstaff says,"No problem," the phrase is used incorrectly and doesn't make sense. Of course it's not a problem for you to get me my coffee: it's **your job** to get me my coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                        But "No problem" is also used incorrectly from a customer service/business perspective because it truncates the sales transaction.

                                                                                                                                                                        During a sales transaction with an employee delivering an item or providing a service, the better response is something like, "Coming right up." Or, "Should be just a minute."

                                                                                                                                                                        Meaning, I'll get what you're paying for efficiently so that you'll be a repeat customer during the busy morning or at lunchtime when time is tight.

                                                                                                                                                                        OR, another phrase that's better for the business and upselling: "Would you like anything else with your coffee? Our baker made his famous low-fat carrot muffins this morning."

                                                                                                                                                                        Or, "May I help you with anything else today?" Meaning, can I sell you anything else so that the company I work for makes a bit more profit?

                                                                                                                                                                        "No problem" is a flat phrase. It lacks this solicitousness, and usually ends the sales dialogue rather than furthering it.

                                                                                                                                                                        The phrase doesn't work in sales transactions. It's not the best choice from a customer service/business angle, besides being incorrect from a usage perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                        I think teaching employees not to use the phrase "No problem," and instead teaching them phrases that are better for sales and repeat business should be part of employee training.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                          I would point to the business casual in all its forms as a participant in casual speech.

                                                                                                                                                                          We aren't the formal business society of generations ago. Sometimes I'm still struck by the casual way my own work is accomplished today. I'm old school in a new format...learning to fit.

                                                                                                                                                                          Casual isn't going away.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                            Office dogs, food truck fridays, beers/cocktails in the full service office kitchen, office bikes - it sure is a much more casual environment.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                              Last week I sent my work into the office while at the gym, while at a honey farm and while in a bakery. Logged hours on the ride to PA and on the ride to VT. In jeans and a t-shirt while catching up on CH and buying new furniture online.

                                                                                                                                                                              Casual =as all get out!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                                I love office dogs. There is a cute Papillion who belongs to the controller out in the hallway now.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                              I think some people interpret "no problem" too literally when it's really just an idiom for acknowledging a "Thank you!" It has nothing to do with whether there actually was a problem or not or with whether any act involved was potentially problematic.

                                                                                                                                                                              There are tons of expressions that shouldn't be interpreted too literally. Consider the somewhat archaic greeting "How do you do?" in British English, which was not meant as a question, just as an idiomatic way of saying "Hi!"
                                                                                                                                                                              Although I'm sure Mr. MTV would consider this usage incorrect and impolite since nobody answered the other person's "question."

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                I doubt most people who say "No problem" even think about what they're saying. It's a kind of brainless, unexamined usage. Language has nuance, and the nuance is lost when "No problem" is used incorrectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                You have to understand its proper usage to understand how it's misused.

                                                                                                                                                                                << It has nothing to do with whether there actually was a problem or not or with whether any act involved was potentially problematic.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                That's the problem. It actually has everything to do with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                Sure, lots of people say "No problem," and use it in error. It's caught on, but it's not any less an error because it's caught on, just like "alright" is not a proper spelling for "all right" even though many people spell it that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                "No problem" is not an idiom, nor are other people taking it "too literally" when they think the usage is incorrect and inappropriate, just like people should not "get over" alright spelled incorrectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                "How do you do?" is a question, asked when meeting someone for the first time. It's a cousin of "How are you?," which can be asked when meeting a person for the first time and also after previously meeting someone. See the difference? More nuance. Both questions are meant to be answered. Very well, thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                  No, "How do you do?" as it was commonly used in Britain was not a question that would require an answer but a greeting that would be reciprocated with another "How do you do?" like in the Oscar Wilde dialog in my link.

                                                                                                                                                                                  As for "no problem," if people are commonly using it without thinking and regardless of the circumstances, it has indeed become an idiom for acknowledging a "Thank you!"

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                    Howdy must have come from "How do you do..."

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp


                                                                                                                                                                                      The evolution of howdy is found at the bottom of the page:


                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                        I could see that. Especially since we really have no way of knowing what accents/dialects actually sounded like and how some of these words and phrases were actually pronounced.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I learned once that some people in deepest Appalachia and other remote East coast parts of the country had the closest link to old English dialects due to no exposure to other languages/people.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                      I disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                      How do you do?
                                                                                                                                                                                      How are you?

                                                                                                                                                                                      are inquiries into another's well-being or health. They're meant to be answered, and the asker is supposed to wait for the answer. These are two questions that have always meant to be answered.

                                                                                                                                                                                      <<it has indeed become an idiom for acknowledging a "Thank you!">>

                                                                                                                                                                                      But that's only one way it's being used incorrectly. It's used incorrectly other ways as well. For example, it's said to the customer in response to a coffee order, or after ordering a meal. That's wrong, on at least two counts.

                                                                                                                                                                                      It it worked, I'd be all for it. I love slang; I love idiom; I love expressive language. But "No problem" doesn't work for several reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                        "How do you do?" as used traditionally in Britain was a greeting, not an actual question where an answer was expected. Very different from, say, asking "How are you?" in the US today. Here is some discussion:

                                                                                                                                                                                        When it comes to idioms, does "you're welcome" really make a whole lot of sense if you pick the words apart? It just happens to be a firmly established idiom in response to a "Thank you!" It's a meaningless phrase used routinely without much thinking. Just think of "no problem" the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                          If "you're welcome" is a tired or worn-out phrase for you or anyone, use another phrase, but make your language FRESH and MEANINGFUL.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Say something in response to being thanked that actually has meaning, not some meaningless, loser phrase like "No problem" that reflects poorly on you.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Try to say "Thank you" in a fresh way, using different words, that truly convey appreciation. Something that's really heard. It will be a better interaction with that other person, I promise.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Ask "How are you?" using fresh words that are really heard, and responded to. Even "How has your day been going so far?" shows genuine interest. You get the idea. Don't waste language!

                                                                                                                                                                                          (BTW, I've researched the history of "how do you do, " and wrote about it, so I disagree again with you.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          "No problem" doesn't convey anything meaningful. Throw it out! Don't use it! It's a waste of language! It's used incorrectly!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't want many of these phrases to be "FRESH and MEANINGFUL" since you use them mainly as a point of etiquette. If I'm asked "How are you?" I would probably respond with "Fine. How are you?" which would be a very common response that wouldn't convey anything meaningful. And what's wrong with that? I may not be in the mood to disclose private information about my well-being to strangers nor may I be interested in hearing detailed descriptions of their current health problems. When people say "thank you" it usually just signifies an acknowledgement of the conclusion of some form of interaction rather than heartfelt gratitude, so why try to use some other wording that truly conveys appreciation if no non-trivial appreciation exists?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                              What I am referring to is using language that is sincere and respectful of your fellow human beings, no matter how small the transaction, because that lubricates life's machinery and makes the day a bit nicer for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not my job to convince you of this. But I can hope that the merits of speaking meaningfully to others, in a way that truly connects and respects, rather than speaking in lame and meaningless platitudes, will be revealed to you one day.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                So "no problem" is insincere and disrespectful?
                                                                                                                                                                                                Is "de nada" also insincere and disrespectful? Or other similar responses from other languages that have been identified in this thread?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always thought "de nada" was loosely translated to "you're welcome" even though it actually means, it's nothing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  "No problem" is used so often that it is meaningless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is "no problem" used more than "you're welcome" is used? Or was used at its peak? It certainly isn't used more than "de nada" is used in the parts of Spain I've spent time in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would think that you translate "de nada" as "you're welcome" because it is used in the same context. So yes, it means the same thing, but it does not mean "you're welcome."

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My best guess is that de nada means "it was nothing" after a "gracias" (thank you). In other words: No need to thank me as I did nothing special that I would not have done otherwise. Even though de nada would be used after performing a major task for someone. It is a show of humility. Perhaps a Hispanic trait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Thank you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "No problem. No need to thank me as I did nothing special that I would not have done otherwise."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "De nada" is used after performing major and minor tasks. Used on the Barcelona metro when said "gracias" after I nearly fainted, had to lie on the floor of the car, and had a stranger watch over me and my belongings until I was okay. Used after a stranger in Madrid went out of her way to walk me to a little cafe I was having difficulty finding. Used pretty much every single time I said "gracias" after having a door held for me, having food or wine or coffee brought to me, or experiencing any of those other little small acts of niceness that occur throughout our days. Much like "no problem" is used after performing major and minor tasks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess because I am an old f#*t "no problem" just does not resonate. Maybe I take the word "problem" too literally? Especially when the other shoe drops and a "problem" arises.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Such is life!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Right. Much how people currently use the phrase 'no problem' in the English language (as many have stated in this thread).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then again, "No problem, Dude!" really gets to me. Unless of course we are in a surf shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                            but that's EXACTLY what "no problem" means in commonn usage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And "de rien".

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And all the other variations that we've discussed in this thread -- all of which are somehow more acceptable because they're not in English? How does that work?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In my Spanish grammar book “de nada” translates directly as “You’re welcome.” “No problem” translates directly as “No hay problema.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                              De nada is a Spanish idiom meaning "you're welcome". The literal is of course "for nothing" after being thanked for something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would say that "de nada" and "you're welcome" are both idioms meaning the same thing. I would expect a grammar book aimed at English speakers to say that "de nada" means "you're welcome." They are both polite expressions uttered in response to "thank you." As is "no problem."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, it's an idiom. But there's no other way to say "You're welcome" in Spanish, is there? One wouldn't say, for instance, "Usted es bienvenido," which means something else entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Other expressions used in the same context, in order of most to least frequency in my (unfortunately limited) experience in Spain:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    con mucho gusto
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    el gusto es mio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    es un placer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But my point in posting about idioms is to point out that most of these expressions are idioms. That none of the literal meanings make much sense. So if we are going to accept "you're welcome" and "de nada," why not accept "no problem?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Italian: "Prego" means literally I pray but is used as "you're welcome"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        prego is used in more ways than you're welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, prego is used as "hello, goodbye, goodbye on the phone, excuse me and we have a new pope!!" So much can be said with one little word.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hmm. so "thanks for nothing", then?


                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                        when I say "how are you" in greeting to someone, I'm only looking for a quick answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I really don't want or need a dissertation on the speaker's carbuncles and digestive issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I'm good, how are you?" might not be fresh or meaningful, but it does the job for most of us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Alan Sherman once wrote about this in "The Rape of the Ape."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      When people asked him "How are you doing" as a greeting, he responded "I am at a disastrous crossroads in my life." His response was ignored as if he said "fine."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to have a neighbor whose usual greeting was, "Are you fine?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I liked that! It kind of forces you to answer in some way. She was a sweet lady, too, so it was a good conversation starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This thread has brought to mind the inquiry seen in old movies: "I trust you are well?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                      A classic example of the British 'How do you do?' as a greeting (without anything like a 'fine thankyou')

                                                                                                                                                                                                      From Pygmalion

                                                                                                                                                                                                      PICKERING. How do you do, Miss Doolittle?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      LIZA [shaking hands with him] Colonel Pickering, is it not? 85
                                                                                                                                                                                                      MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. I feel sure we have met before, Miss Doolittle. I remember your eyes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      LIZA. How do you do? [She sits down on the ottoman gracefully in the place just left vacant by Higgins].
                                                                                                                                                                                                      MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My daughter Clara.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      LIZA. How do you do?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      CLARA [impulsively] How do you do? [She sits down on the ottoman beside Eliza, devouring her with her eyes]. 90
                                                                                                                                                                                                      FREDDY [coming to their side of the ottoman] Ive certainly had the pleasure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My son Freddy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      LIZA. How do you do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The proper response to 'How do you do?' was a reciprocal 'How do you do?', as in this exchange from Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892:...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It also talks about the change from question to greeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "How do you do" is a question, it's always been a question, the playwright Oscar Wilde's comedic riff on it notwithstanding. (I linked to the same webpage earlier, but you can research others as well if you want to get hung up on it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's not a question that's always answered, but it is only asked when meeting someone for the first time. That's the nuance of it. All of these phrases have nuance that points to their appropriateness in usage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The intonation is that of a question, but the semantics is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          But with regard to the 'Thank you', 'You're welcome' exchange, I don't find anything like it in Pygmalion, The Importance of Being Earnest, or Emily Post (1922). In a few cases, 'thank you' is given as a response to 'thank you'. Post does not suggest anything in response to a 'thank you'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would argue that it is less in error because it has caught on, or potentially so. Language changes. I don't know where the line is for crossing from error to modern correct usage, but that line exists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would also argue that "No problem" is uttered brainlessly no more a percentage of utterances than is "You're welcome" or "How are you?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Certainly language changes and evolves. But this is an error on two counts: language and customer service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                          <<I would also argue that "No problem" is uttered brainlessly no more a percentage of utterances than is "You're welcome" or "How are you?">>

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think you're right. The problem with "No problem" is that it's misunderstood. By the speaker and often by the person to whom it's said. And it should never be used in sales transactions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's not being used incorrectly though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's an idiom meaning 'you're welcome' that is being incorrectly (or at times pedantically) interpreted literally as 'it could have been a problem but wasn't.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Idioms work like that. Of course, customer service situations sometimes demand that certain idioms be avoided. But grammar does not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "It's not being used incorrectly though."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. Thank you, cowboyardee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Inexact, inappropriate, incorrect, meaningless, rote, tired, incommunicative, and wrong in customer service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some of you feel otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't care for the meaningless "How are you/fine"-type
                                                                                                                                                                                                          exchanges either. Though it is possible to make even
                                                                                                                                                                                                          those banal exchanges come alive with a special
                                                                                                                                                                                                          inflection or musicality in the voice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your post reminds me of the characters in Wendy Wasserstein's novel, "The Elements of Style," who would say, "How ARE you?" With quite a bit of inflection and musicality, and yet were as insincere as could be.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Yeah, OK. I'm 66 and if someone responds to my thanks, and says "no problem" i have "no problem" with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The chief reason for objecting to language usage, IMO, is if you don't get the meaning from the response. We all understand it when someone uses the term, "no problem." Get over it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ooo. "Get over it". Big Problem. That one has always struck me as negative, rude, and condescending.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                In this case, yes. I don't mean to be rude, but yes. I think that phrase communicates pretty well, no?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I just finished reading all 103 posts at the time I came across this and I have to say this is a thread in search of a point. I am pre-1980 but not of AARP vintage yet and I've been using no problem forever. I find it hard to believe that people are reading so much into that simple response. The issue with that response starts from a dubious point. Thanking someone for doing their job. Its their job, why are you thanking them? But I say thank you all the time, even try and remind the offspring to do it because its polite. But there is way too much meaning being piled onto small everyday pleasantries we all exchange that are of little or no actual meaning. Hate to think what some of you may think when I throw out the casual "thanks" instead of the formal "thank you."

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                            I disagree. I have only read ops post but I think it's a shame we don't say " you're welcome " more often. Never mind enjoy or Bon appetit before eating. Nothing to do with what we do say, but rather what we don't. It is usual to answer a thank you with " mmmhmmm".

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I don't care for "No Problem", but it won't wreck my day to hear it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            OTOH- when someone in the service industry replies to my "Thank You" with "My Pleasure", I feel all cozy and civilized.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. couldn't find a lot of etymology, but it looks to have been first documented sometime in the 1960s....which means it's been around nearly 50 years -- nearly old enough to belong to AARP itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. MY husband who is 64 has been using that phrase since at least 1980 . The only person who was ever annoyed by it was my dad who was a pain for vocabulary and punctuation ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                Language is fluid and evolving . I guess younger people might want to be "clued " in to how to get higher tips , but might think
                                                                                                                                                                                                that the person offering this clue was out of touch with modern English generally older than most of his customers .

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Not a problem as I don't think that I have ever thought about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. For those posters for whom "no problem" is a problem, do you worry about "no worries" as well? I've noticed it creeping into American English usage more and more over the last few years. It doesn't exactly bother me, but it strikes me as odd-sounding, for some reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Not a problem," is also a response to "thank you," that I've been hearing a lot lately. I like the brevity and casualness of "no problem." It's weight in conversation seems just right to me. Whereas, "not a problem," seems to rub me the the way that "no problem," does to those bothered by that response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nope. It's common usage in other English-speaking parts of the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Much like saying someone is in hospital vs. someone is in *the* hospital, or you're moving house versus just moving, or "chalk and cheese" rather than "apples and oranges".

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just a different way of saying the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. In a world where intentional offense is unfortunately common, I just don't have the energy to try to find offense where none is intended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Younger people often tend to offer alternative responses when thanked, especially during less formal situations. By saying "no problem," the recipient of the gratitude is actually saying "this act or service did not inconvenience me in any way." The difference is subtle, but for some people "no problem" puts slightly more emphasis on the recipient's personal welfare. A ticket agent who provides an airplane ticket for a customer, for example, is only performing one of his or her normal tasks. If the customer says "thank you," a more formal "you're welcome" would be considered more appropriate than "no problem."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some people compound this grammatical and social dilemma by offering even more informal responses such as "no prob" or the pseudo-Spanish "no problemo." While the sentiment might be perfectly acceptable, the informality could definitely be seen as inappropriate to the occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some etiquette and grammar experts would prefer to see the complete eradication of "no problem" from the popular vernacular, but others believe it is not as offensive as other possible responses or even non-responses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So for the foreseeable future, it would be perfectly acceptable to issue a "no problem" in response to a friend's informal expression of thanks, but avoid using it during more formal or professional situations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ~ http://www.wisegeek.org/why-do-people...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know I'm going to regret replying to this (hi thread! welcome to my profile forever!) but I think it's important. It used to drive me insane when people would use poor spelling, grammar, and inane abbreviations when communicating. But I realized that this is how language evolves, and that remaining mired in the past does me no good at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't give me the argument that it holds you back professionally -- I had a mid level white collar job where people who earned six or seven times my salary sent out memos rife with misspellings and poor grammar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd be lying if I said that some of it doesn't bug me ("Y" is not an acceptable substitute for "why"), but that's my problem. Our methods of communication have evolved and so must our mores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And in the end, some of it is good. What useful purpose does the it's vs. its division serve? Sure, I know and can use the difference, but are there instances where the meaning is confusing, or is it just annoying to a bunch of spelling perfectonists? As far as I'm concerned, the apostrophe can and should land on the trashheap of langage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            All changes to the language come down to the traditionalists vs. common usage. I think its (sic) time to accept the inevitable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll probably regret this this too, especially since I make a LOT of typos, but I think these are simple ways of adding a good or "less good" impression. I'm wondering if being persnickity (sp?) about this a function of reading? I can't imagine how my kids and I ended up so sensitive about this. They LOVE to drive me nuts by saying "first off" and "these ones".

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And in my business, I've learned to almost NEVER ask someone how they are doing unless I sit down, look them straight in the eyes, and MEAN it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nice to know not only my opinions drive you nuts, but my delivery of them probably does as well! Lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This made me think of the well known and popular book "The Fifty Shades of Grey". While I've never read a page of the book, it has been conveyed to me that the grammar and spelling are poor throughout the entire story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Many of my female friends who similar to you, are driven crazy by grammatical and spelling mistakes said the book was unreadable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                That didnt* seem to deter the millions of women who purchased the book and loved it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                * that apostrophe was added to the trash heap in your honor Sir.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I only regret that I can hit "recommend" but a single time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well-said, sir, especially the part about people earning big bucks who can't string together a cogent sentence, spoken or written.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So when that ticket agent responds with, "You're welcome," she is saying what? "You are welcome..." to buy a ticket on our airline?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. "No problem" is never a problem until there is a problem!! It irks me to here those words.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also find that when I am speaking with a customer service rep regarding most anything they have a habit of ending their statements with "OK!"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess they are prodding me to be in agreement with them which many times I am not so I will say, "No, that's not OK."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is a pause at that point. They may actually have to solve a problem to my satisfaction and then it will be "OK!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I teach the English language (and faves like Oscar Wilde) for a living, and I think all the posters are great, no matter what.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The fact that people are engaged in a discussion about language, formality, and courtesy makes me so happy that I want to applaud.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Side note--in my travels, some days are so horrific in terms of social niceties/common courtesies that when I get *any* vestige of a "thank you" or a "you're welcome", I welcome it. Yesterday I let someone merge into my lane in bumper-to-bumper hell on Route 128, and he waved and shouted thank you. Yes, after I recovered from my swoon I said "You're welcome!" Usually it's just swerve, glower, swerve)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "...a discussion about language, formality, and courtesy..." I think I love you. I'm a sucker for the Oxford comma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do wish there were more waves and thank you's and smiles for small and random acts in our sometimes dreary days. Good on you for letting the other driver in; good on him for acknowledging your act.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            :) I love that one. I have been public enough about my love of the Oxford comma that FB pals frequently send me these types of posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I usually get a one finger salute!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, that too, my friend. That too. Or the hairy eye in the rear view mirror.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Ha! I just sent an e-mail to my mother's estate attorney saying I'd already done something he'd asked me to do and asking if I had to do it again. His complete reply: "No problem." I have no idea whether this means yes I do or no I don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            now *that* would send me over the edge -- not because of "no problem", but because it's not an answer, and now I have to send another email asking the same question. Again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The number of people not reading emails in entirety seems to be growing. Very frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                exceeded only by the number of people who don't bother to read a discussion before posting the exact same thing that's been said six times before. (NOT aiming at anyone here...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "But this one is so-o-o-o long..." she whines....:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I swear, I'll never skim before replying again. My bad. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I am a language curmudgeon. Yes, the phrase "no problem" bothers me. That said, I understand that all languages are living, changing entities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My husband deals with non-native English speakers pretty much daily via email. Many times he has come out of his office feeling questioning, worried, or even offended by the wording of one of these emails. After deliberating it, we usually decide that the person on the other end didn't mean what it looks like they meant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The same could be applied between different generations or regions using the same language.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Don't mention it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Seriously, don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Geez. Who knew there was such a problem with no problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. "No problem" is part of the decay in service. No standards are set. I always cringe a bit when a 20 year old server addresses my 50 something wife and me as "you two". Like you know us? We are your peers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why not just sit on the edge of the damn table and paint your nails as we chat about whatever the hell is going on in your life?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Really? You went from "no problem," a common idiom across ages, to THAT?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not at all a "common idiom across ages" (whatever that means). Are you over 18?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ha! Well over 18. "common idiom across ages" means, of course, that it is a common idiom used by people at a variety of ages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm also well over 18, and I really don't care what they call me as long as they're being nice. I can't imagine getting bothered by something minor like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My Gram (@93, rip) and parents (84, 77) were/are always slightly stunned/discomfited by a certain 16-year-oldish server at a local restaurant addressing them as "kids".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So when you make a reservation, note that you prefer being called "your highnesses". Problem solved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, what would you prefer? Because honestly, it's damned if I do, damned if I don't. I have people who hate "you guys" (which is quite common where I'm from, and not a big deal), and apparently you hate "you two", some people hate "folks", and others hate "you all". "You two" is about as innocent as it comes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I definitely am not trying to be friends with customers. I'm trying to get them their food efficiently, and be pleasant and helpful at the same time. I didn't realize saying "you two" was like being BFFs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eastofnevada

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would prefer that servers would just be able to concentrate on doing their job and not have to be mind readers and worry about what possibly might or might not offend somebody.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You're right, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What's just as bad is when your boss thinks you should be doing one thing but your customer thinks you should be doing something different and you get it from both sides. Ahhh... reminiscing about the good old days waitressing in my youth...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They are trying to be friendly. To be honest, they are probably not spending too much time thinking about your linguistic eccentricities because they are running around serving 10 other tables at the same time while making $2 an hour. How else would you prefer they address you? "Sir" and "Mi'lady"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. This afternoon I helped a neighbor get hold of his dog, and he said 'Thank you'. My automatic response was 'uh-huh' (the muttered 'yes'). In effect I acknowledged his thanks in a low key way. 'You're welcome' would have been too formal. 'no problem' might have been appropriate, except I wasn't rendering a formal service, just helping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Different settings have different expectations. You did well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Uh-huh" from an waiter would be inappropriate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this instance, IMO, "uh-huh" comes off as dismissive, as though you grudgingly came to his aid. "You're welcome" would have been entirely appropriate, as would "no problem", because helping him was not something you were required to do. NP in this instance means you don't mind being inconvenienced in this way. NP when what you are being thanked for is something it's your job to do is what is annoying to many of us. Other appropriate responses to being thanked for helping corral the dog include: "My pleasure", "Any time", "It's nothing", "Happy to help", "That's what neighbors are for"....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. So this bothers you but people who answer "Thank you" with "Uh huh" doesn't??


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Depends all on inflection and circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I hate it, the word "problem" is a negative hard word so it is not very relaxing. Once in a bad mood when the waiter replied "no problem" to everything we said I did call him on it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Spaniards say "it's a pleasure to serve you" which is very pleasurable!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bronwen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have never had someone in Spain say, "It's a pleasure to serve you" to me. Maybe I'm just quite unpleasant to serve. I posted this above, but in order of frequency, what I have heard in Spain:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              de nada
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              con mucho gusto (with much pleasure)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              el gusto es mio (the pleasure is mine)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              es un placer (it is a pleasure)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Obviously those last three our similar to what you wrote in that they include the word pleasure, but they are much less formal in that they don't include "to serve you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. What do you respond when a cashier hands you your receipt and says 'Thank you' (meaning, presumably, 'thank you for shopping with us')?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wrong or right, I will sometimes just say, "Thank You" back to someone who is thanking me. Goes back to a long-ago etiquette class when I was taught that, in social situations where there is doubt about what to say, the phrase "Thank You" can almost always be uttered successfully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh boy! Heading into the recursive thank-you vortex, yeah. I sometimes respond with a "Thank you" because the cashier has just nicely handed me my bags and receipt. Sometimes I think of my reserved but friendly and invariably polite father who gave a heartfelt "You're welcome," and follow suit. It's a little hitch in my day; I don't have an auto-response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In answer to the original question, I don't much like "No problem" and have some hesitations about "You're welcome." I'm in the "My pleasure" camp for the most part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unlike that MTV guy, I don't suffer from the horrible affliction of taking idioms too literally and dwelling on it. But if I did, I would probably consider "my pleasure" as a response to "thank you" as insincere in many situations. If I say "thank you" when handed my receipt at a supermarket and the guy who gives it to me says "my pleasure" in return, I would highly doubt that there is a lot of pleasure involved on his side unless I believe that he really, really enjoys doing his job as a check-out clerk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Come to think of it, following the logic of the MTV genius, am I insulting the check-out guy by saying "thank you" when he gives me my receipt? He is only doing his job so thanking him for that seems to imply that I think that he doesn't always do his job and that I'm expressing gratitude that he did in my case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Good heavens. I was born long before 1980. I can't imagine being offended by the phrase unless it was delivered with a sneer. It's just a phrase and IME is simply intended as a friendly response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it's said with a smile, it's nothing to get one's panties in a wad over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thingmaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm having trouble with abbreviations such as "IME" and "IIRC".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would be lost without www.acronymfinder.com - or is that IWBLWWWWAFC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Thank you. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Add to the list (as I imagine others already have on this thread) "no worries." "No problem"? "No worries"? I was not assuming I was giving you a problem to ask for the check, or another cup of coffee, nor did I expect you'd be "worried" about these requests, either. I was saying "thank you" because I am a polite person who respects others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and don't even get me started on "Um-hmm," as the answer to a customer's "thank you. That would be a firing offense if I owned a restaurant, and yes, I've worked in plenty of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't care if this sounds like I'm getting old (I'm not yet 50). But to quote George Costanza, "We live in a society!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed. I dislike the "no problem" and am iffy on the "no worries" since I equate that one with "hakuna matata", so to me it's more upbeat. Much depends on the inflection with which the response is spoken, and in my experience, the "uh-huh" is delivered in a desultory manner that is nothing if not dismissive of the customer (or whoever it is that said thanks). It's only the slightest of margins better than the sullen grunts with which teens respond to their parents. It's a society, all right.....slouching toward the one in Lord of the Flies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I concur. Regrettably, on several occasions on CH, one very recent, I have made reference to the same William Golding novel, and of course not in a flattering context.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, Paul. I don't understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Not sure if this has been mentioned among the many replies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Excellent list! Eric Ripert has something similar.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Should be posted in every restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It should be pointed out that the restaurant failed, and that many people took an instant dislike to him because of that list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I find that list to be largely made up of common sense items, many of them trivial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "87. Do not stop your excellent service after the check is presented or paid."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              OK, sage advice to be sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But he still manages to sneak in stuff I don't get, e.g.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "78. Do not ask, “Are you still working on that?” Dining is not work — until questions like this are asked."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I get asked that question all the time and I just interpret it as a standard way for a server to ask if it's OK to take away my plate. What is wrong with that? "Dining is not work" Yeah, talk about overanalyzing a phrase. Is the guy who wrote that list related to the MTV genius?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the fact that they say it does not mean that its an attractive expression - plenty of us find it irritating. Knowing that, its a lot easier for servers to change what they say - they are speaking to patrons with some food left on their plates many times every evening - than for me to adjust my reaction when I hear the statement only occasionally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ripert is attempting to create a certain standard for his wait staff. I understand that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am certainly not bothered by "are you still working on that?," but it is a bit...truck stop. "May I take your plate?" seems a bit classier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If I ran a restaurant - and I've worked in numerous ones - I would pay a lot of attention to the little aspects of my wait staff's interactions with customers. Finer points can really make the difference between good service and excellent service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would be far more disturbed by "My I take your plate?" unless the plate is so empty that it's pretty much obvious that I'm done. A server asking to take away my plate before I'm done would seem to be anything but classy. Better to inquire whether I'm done eating and that's what "Are you still working on that?" seeks to accomplish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even better, I prefer the waiter to obviously see some sign of me being done, and just taking the plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My grandmother once had a protracted tug of war over a plate that had only a fish head left on it. To the waiter, she was obviously done. To my grandmother, she was just getting to the good part! She was afraid to put down her utensils, because every time she did (to take a drink, for instance), he'd swoop in and try to take the plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a culture we have largely abandoned rules of etiquette that, if employed, make such verbal exchanges unnecessary. Done with your plate? Place the knife and fork across it, spanning from 10:00-2:00, or crossed over each other. A well-trained server knows these are signals that the diner is finished. But these days, it's not likely that either the average diner or server knows them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            or side-by-side at 4:00 -- the more common sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Many years ago, during a business trip to Europe, I was having dinner at a fancy restaurant in Zurich. A colleague seated next to me noted bewilderedly that his plate wasn't removed even though it was obviously empty and the waiter was hovering right behind him. I told him that it was because he hadn't put his knife and fork in the right position for the plate to be taken away. He had placed his knife and fork crossed over each other and he responded that it was the correct position "according to Emily Post." I reminded him that we were in Europe and made him use the correct European position. A split second later, the waiter swooped in and removed the plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just out of curiosity, I dragged the Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette out of my bookcase and it only mentions the side-by-side position of the knife and fork, not the crossed-over one. Clearly, this is an area where there is some confusion as to what is "proper etiquette."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                there was a fairly long conversation about it not too long ago here on the boards -- while there were some who had been taught 8:00 (IIRC, no guarantees), the overwhelming consensus was to place utensils side-by-side. (I've been known to overlap the tines of the fork over the knife if one or both have round handles given to rolling)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And if you really want to get some perspective on how reasonable and even-keeled Chowhounders actually are (yes, even on the Not About Food Board!) compared to the readers of the online New York Times, set aside some time to read the comments on that blog post. Yowza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So the blogger thinks that "no problem" has a tone of insincerity whereas "my pleasure" doesn't. Really? Let's say that a guy at a restaurant pours me a glass of ice-water and I say "Thank you!". If his response is "My pleasure!", should it be interpreted as that he finds pouring water pleasurable or that he is just doing his job and needs to work to feed his family? If the latter, does it come across as sincere?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The poor people who suffer from the horrible affliction of taking idioms too literally really need to get their act together when it comes to the "no problem"/"my pleasure" sincerity issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You don't understand. If it isn't a phrase that I use regularly, then I don't recognize as an idiom, and I'm going to look for all the hidden meanings I can. If I'm in a grumpy mood, I'll see insincerity. The only thing that will satisfy me is a strict adherence to the standards of politeness that I was raised with. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like the trick to being a financially successful server is to quickly and accurately pigeonhole the customers. This one would like an informal friendly greeting. That one expects extreme politeness. Another prefers to be left alone except for the business at hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        so the success of the server (and therefore your tip) depends entirely on the discourse going on in your head, which is entirely dependent upon your mood?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This server is expected to accurately gauge your mood AND be familiar with the standards of politeness that you were raised with?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is there a server on the planet who will or has ever successfully meet your standards?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm pretty sure he was being facetious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "No problem," and its equivalent, "no worries," indicates that the customer *could* have put the wait staff to some sort of trouble if, for instance, the customer had asked for something other than what was provided, but *this* time the customer didn't put anybody out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is not a warm comment. It is an ungenerous comment, which puts the focus on the well-being of the wait staff, rather than the satisfaction of the customer. It's why classy, old school waiters and waitresses don't use it. They say "you're welcome," which suggests, "I'm here to please."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gotta say, several people have given this interpretation, but I couldn't disagree more. To me, "no problem" means, what I did for you was nothing (perhaps part of my job), and there was really no need for you to thank me at all. Whereas, "you're welcome" means, I accept your thanks, because I've done something for you, gone out of my way (in other words, it WAS a problem).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Truth is, neither expression means much of anything. They are both just commonplace ways of responding, and I think it's best to give the responder the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In all fairness, I know I make WAY too much of this kind of stuff, and indeed, one should take the expression with how its intended. I'm just old fashioned in certain ways, and I see everything becoming so "casualized," that I feel I need to hold some line. I still would not allow my wait staff to use this phrase in response to a customer's "thank you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, someone can say "My pleasure!," or "You're welcome!" while dripping with hostility.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just read Rule #88:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        God bless that man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. I'm 50, so I lean to the geezer end of things. But I also teach at a college and see young people constantly. My interpretation: they do not say "you're welcome" to each other, as it's just too formal for them. When they omit "you're welcome" in a work context, they are just being young and, what is more, expressing a kind of comfort with you and the circumstances, because they do not feel on "formality alert."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some patrons might find that a welcome attitude, while others could see it as a poor reflection on the youngster. For my part, I would sooner blame management. They're the ones old enough to have perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A while back there was a movie called The Contender with Jeff Bridges playing the President. He spends a lot of time calling the White House kitchen and ordering food. The response was always "no problem, sir." I suppose if it's good enough for the President.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not to prolong a tedious topic...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well. I won't prolong it damnit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Toward the beginning, the waiter responds to a thank you with "my pleasure, sir." And you can guess what the last words spoken are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That was a different situation, though, if I read you correctly. The kitchen was saying "no problem" to a request for service. The response wasn't to a "thank you".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. "I'd like to order the marinated Porterhouse medium rare."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "No problem."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Why would that be a problem?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or, "Oh goodness, I hope it's not a problem. This is a steak house, right? It is open to the public?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. It's not a problem. It is a Seinfeld plot (a tv show about nothing).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now the use of apostrophes in plurals - THAT is a problem. The disappearance of the relative pronoun "who" - people are now individuals THAT do something - THAT is a crisis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The growing frequency of rogue apostrophe's makes me crazy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An acquaintance had a half dozen plurals in an ad for her store,and just one had that apostrophe in there. Why that one, and not all? If you're going to do it wrong, can't you at least be consistent?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope the rogue apostrophe in your first sentence was rhetorical.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Recently, Grammar Day - or Punctuation Day - passed by so far below public notice that I can't tell you which one it was!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Blame it on a public reading of Green Eggs and Ham.