Sure, No Problem

That’s My Answer asks,

When you thank someone for doing something for you, do you find that more people are replying with ‘no problem’, rather than ‘you’re welcome’? Do you think ‘no problem’ is the same as saying ‘you’re welcome’? Also, I find that I say ‘sure’ instead ‘yes’ when I’m asked something like ‘is it okay to do blah blah blah?’ This is something I’ve never put too much thought into. My 9 yr old daughter doesn’t think ‘sure’ is the same as ‘yes’. Is it?

It is my impression that “you’re welcome” has become almost an old-fashioned thing to say, something rather like bidding someone farewell by saying “good day.” And what does “you’re welcome,” mean, anyway? I’m pretty sure it’s short for “you’re welcome to ask again,” a sentiment echoed in “any time,” yet another response to “thank you.”

Saying “no problem,” is not exactly the same thing as saying “you’re welcome.” It’s a way of saying, “it was nothing,” that the favor in question was not an imposition. In other languages, such as Spanish, this is the customary response to thanks. I personally prefer “no problem,” as it does not explicitly invite the asking of future favors.

As to whether “sure” and “yes” are the same thing, both are affirmative responses. However, there is a slight difference. “Yes” is a statement of fact. “Sure” is a statement of opinion, “I am sure of it.” (Although I find it an odd coincidence that the word for “yes” in Mandarin, “shi,” is pronounced like English “sure.”)

I therefore tend to reserve the word “yes” for when I am certain of the outcome, and “sure” for when there is any uncertainty. (Or for when an informal, friendly tone is required.)

On the other hand, I was once advised to not acknowledge requests with a simple “sure” or “okay,” but rather with a phrase such as “very good.” I tried a few, but my favorite was always “as you wish.”

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2 thoughts on “Sure, No Problem”

  1. I say “no worries” at work because I work for a bunch of Aussies.

    I cringe inside every time. It could be worse. I could be saying “Thank you come again to McDonalds!” or whatever platitude they toss at the back of your head these days.

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