Dear Richard,

I remembered one day you wrote that when someone says to you "Thank you" you shouldn't reply saying "thank you". But today I was listening to Wolf Blitzer talking to Hillary Clinton on the CNN. At the end of the conversation Blizer said "thank you" but Clinton Said "Thank you".
Original Post
I know that you are writing to Richard, but I hope you and he don't mind if I answer it. I'd like to, since just a couple of days ago some friends and I were discussing the fact that people seem not to say "You're welcome" anymore. Instead, they say -- especially young people -- "No problem."

But then I noted that when people come on shows to be interviewed, the interviewer says, "Thank you for being on our show." Then the guest, the interviewee usually says, "Thank you for having me," or something like that.

This is appropriate. It's because if the interviewee says, "You're welcome," it sounds like the interviewee is acknowledging that s/he did the interviewer a favor by appearing on the show. Now, this is not the case. It is beneficial to the guest -- the interviewee -- to appear on the show, and should certainly not appear that the guest is doing the host a favor. This would be, well, kind of arrogant.

So, for an interviewee -- the guest -- to say, "Thank you for having me," or "It's my pleasure," is gracious and appropriate.

My turn: Smile

I agree with what Rachel has said as far as it being okay to respond to Thank you with Thank you, but I think the interpretation of possible arrogance is perhaps a bit much.

To begin with, a suprasegmental feature may be necessary to hear to know what's being communicated by the respondent, i.e., where the stress falls. For example:

capitalized elements receive primary stress
Izzy: THANK you very MUCH, Rachel.
Rachel: Thank YOU, Izzy.

In the case above, Rachel is politely returning the compliment, so to speak. She is being as gracious as Izzy is, and she clearly demonstrates this by emphasizing you.

I'm sure that Rachel is right in citing that when the respondent simply repeats Thank you with the same stress as the first speaker, the part left out but understood is something like "... for having me on the show" or "... for interviewing me."

As for the respondent perhaps demonstrating some kind of arrogance by saying You're welcome, I can't really agree with that. On the radio, for example, after a news report, I've heard the reporters respond with You're welcome as often as with Thank you to the news anchor saying Thank you, and there isn't a hint of arrogance in their reply.

That's my take on things.
Well, not very arrogant, but at least a little.

If I hear an interviewee -- a guest -- say "You're welcome," it doesn't seem right. It's ungracious, at best. It implies that the guest is doing the host a favor.

Tell you what. Starting tonight, I'm going to keep a pen and paper with me, and after any interview I see, I'm going to write down what the guest says when the host says, "Thank you for coming," or something like that.

I'll post the results in a couple of days.
Tell you what. Starting tonight, I'm going to keep a pen and paper with me, and after any interview I see, I'm going to write down what the guest says when the host says, "Thank you for coming," or something like that.

Oh Rachel! That's drives me to laugh. Say the power went off before the program had finished perish the thought! Smile

I'm awaiting the result, too!
If I may suggest, try listening to NPR, Rachel. I love their in-depth news stories, and the anchors always thank the reporters at the end of each story. I've noticed that the reporters often say Thank you, So-and-so, but many also say You're welcome or My pleasure, So-and-so, or something to that effect.

I'll be interested to learn your findings, too. Smile
Hello, everyone:

The night before last, while watching my nightly dose of political news, I carefully recorded opening and closing interchanges of several interviews in a row. I am not omitting any interview that I watched that night.


1. (At beginning of show)
Host Rachel Maddow: Thank you so much for coming.
Guest Claire McHaskell: Thank you for having me.

2. (At end of show)
Host RM: Thank you so much for coming.
Guest CM: Thank YOU.

3. (At beginning of show)
Host Keith Olbermann: Thanks for coming by.
Guest Richard Wolfe: Thank YOU, Keith.

4. (At end of show)
Host KO: Thanks again for coming by.
Guest RW: Thank YOU, Keith.


5. (At end of show)
Host Jay Leno: Thank you for coming.
Guest Joe Biden: Thank YOU.

6. (At beginning of show)
Host Dave Letterman: Thanks for coming! Thanks for showing up this time.
Guest John McCain: Thanks for having me.

As you can see, in none of those interchanges would you hear "you're welcome." Each person is glad to be interviewed, and expresses thanks to the host for the interview.

Now I'm sensitive to this language, and will be listening for any deviations from the above rather formulaic utterances.

I will also take Richard's suggestion and pay attention to the language in interviews on NPR, National Public Radio. I do listen to that station when I am in my car. I will have a report on what I hear there next week.

First of all, I would like to thank you for the time you spent listening to all those programs. That's really indicates how keen you are on helping us. These are the real teachers!

Secondly, thanks for sharing with us what you have found which, for one, find it so interesting!

You're really amazing!

Thanks forever Rachel!
It came to me naturally, and I was thinking that you would question it.

Yes, because theoretically you are asking for something and I am fulfilling that request. If you notice all the responses that Richard has written to others' "thank-yous," you will see that he usually writes "you're welcome" or "you're very welcome." This is because our job is to provide correct responses to members' questions.

BUT, the truth is that we could also say something like, "Thank YOU for asking," which would imply that we are appreciative of your question. But, "thank YOU for...." also implies that you did me/us the courtesy of inviting me/us. In fact, we could say, "thank YOU for..." because we both enjoy the GE so much and it is a pleasure to be here.

However, I think that the first priority here for a natural answer is that when one supplies an answer to a direct question, "you're welcome" is used. In contrast, when one is referring to an appearance, clearly of mutual benefit, "you're welcome" is not used much.
I would like to thank you, too, Rachel, for going above and beyond the call of duty and for sharing those interesting findings with us.

What I think is telling is the fact that you accurately showed us where the stress shifted in each of the replies that the second person gave, i.e., with the stress on you rather than on thank. This shift in stress clearly communicates to native speakers that there's a part of the sentiment which has been omitted, namely, something like Thank YOU for having me (on your show).

I find it amazing, though, when the second speaker just parrots what the first speaker has said and simply repeats THANK you. That's what I've noticed a lot of at the end of those news reports on NPR. If you do get a chance to listen to several of those reports on NPR, Rachel, please see if you find them parroting Thank you with no shift in the stress to you.

And thanks again for going above and beyond! Smile
This passage in an article on the falling away of 'you're welcome' appeared in today's New York Times*:

'Thank you and you’re welcome were once as connected as horse and buggy, but the buggy’s disappearing. A casual survey of acquaintances finds the most frequent response to thanks is now no problem.

When National Public Radio hosts thank correspondents for their reports, other responses include sure, sure thing, my pleasure, any time, no sweat and you bet!

Why such wide reluctance to use a longstanding courteous expression? Probably precisely because it is so longstanding, leached by time of its sincerity. Might the same fate await no problem? You bet.'

The New York Times has now described this language usage -- but way later than the Grammar Exchange did!

I myself still like 'you're welcome' when appropriate (but not when one has been a guest on a TV show, for example).
*The New York Times Sunday Magazine On Language, by Jack Rosenthal. August 2, 2009

Add Reply

Likes (0)