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De means "of", and nada means "nothing", so why, when put together are they used in response to "Gracias"?

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Well, it's the same if I'd ask the reverse, why in English "you're welcome" is used as an answer to "thank you". I think this question might be improved so it's not so localized. –  JoulSauron Aug 7 '12 at 14:07
Re: "You're welcome": wiki.answers.com/Q/… –  Flimzy Aug 8 '12 at 2:22
I have edited the question to be a little more directed. "De nada" does not mean "You're welcome" in the most literal sense ("estás bienvenido" does). I think the real question is, "Why do we respond to 'gracias' with 'de nada'?" If I have missed the point of your question, please feel free to revert my edit. –  Flimzy Aug 8 '12 at 2:24
For what it's worth, the exact same form of words ("of nothing") is used in French (de rien) and Catalan (de res). –  Peter Taylor Aug 22 '12 at 20:18
Peter Taylor is right: the real issue, and the interesting thing, is that we should use the preposition "de" instead of e.g., "por", and the reason is that Modern Spanish "de nada", like Catalan "de res" is a calque of the French expression "de rien". What it is equivalent to in OTHER languages, or what ELSE we Spaniards may say instead in the same context of use (e.g., "Ni lo menciones", "No me las des", "¡Por favor!") is perfectly irrelevant to the question. –  Sibutlasi Mar 3 at 13:06

10 Answers 10

up vote 38 down vote accepted

"De nada" means (literally) that there's nothing to be thankful about. "No hay nada que agradecer".

It's semantically similar to "not at all", but it can also be correctly translated to "You're welcome".

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Another common reply is "no hay de qué", which conveys the same meaning. –  Jubbat Aug 7 '12 at 23:37
And "no hay de qué" can be shortened to "de qué" which, when it's a beginner doing the thanking, can lead to amusing exchanges like "Muchas gracias por la comida." "De qué." "De la comida. Me gustó. Muchas gracias." "De qué." "¡DE LA COMIDA!" "¡DE QUÉ!" –  Michael Wolf Aug 13 '12 at 15:05
I have never heard that "de qué" is used as an answer to "Gracias"... –  Alicia R. Mar 14 '14 at 12:46
@AliciaR. Me neither. Sounds to me like "Thanks for what?" –  rpax Apr 12 at 3:05
In Peru, we say. «De nada», «No hay por qué» or «No hay de qué», «No te preocupes» (don't worry), «Es un placer» (it's a pleasure to help), «Cuando quieras» (Anytime anywhere I can help you), «No hay problema» (There'sno problem) and finally «De qué» but this it's very confusing and informal for people who is learning Spanish. You have more options but "de nada" it's ok –  Maximus Decimus Jun 16 at 14:04

According to RAE "it's a polite answer to thanks being given to somebody", basically it's kind of equivalent to it was nothing/think nothing of it/no problem/don't mention it, in spanish you can also say no fue nada (and in that sense that sounds more "complete"), por nada, no hay problema, so basically de nada and the other variants are the current short way of saying no hay de que dar las gracias or no hay porque dar las gracias.

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American English is famous for responding to thanks with an acknowledgment that something indeed was done: "You're welcome" (yes, I did you a favor, and I accept your thanks). Virtually all other European language respond to thanks with a denial that anything significant was done: "de nada," "It was nothing," "de rien," "det var ingenting," etc. "You're welcome" is "heard" as an Americanism in British English. And even Americans seem to be moving increasingly to the denial model: "no problem," "no worries," etc.

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In Japanese you say "no (いいえ)" , like saying "don't mention it". –  Alfredo Osorio Aug 23 '13 at 15:47

In English we say:

No Problem

It was nothing

Don't mention it

Don't worry about it

All as very casual responses to "Thank you"

In Spanish I would use "de nada" in the same environment. With friends / family, etc..

If I were entering a classy restaurant and held the door for someone who responded with "muchos Gracias" then I would reply "es un placer" (it's a pleasure).

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It means "you have nothing to thank me for". It's meant in an endearing way..

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It means: I did not do anything (nothing) that should be thanked for. The person is showing him or her humble and down to earth.

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It means it was no trouble, no inconvenience, it cost me nothing so you're welcome. Just a routine courtesy among equals.

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It's like your 'not at all'. It means you don't need to say thank you.

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In English, it means:

No problem

It was nothing

Don't mention it

Don't worry about it

It's nothing that I should be thanked for


My pleasure

Like how you said, De means of, and nada means nothing, so when you combine them together, it will be of nothingin English which is similar to "it was nothing".

If Someone were to say gracias for helping them, I would say placer es mío. It's similar to De nada. It means "it's my pleasure".

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Similar to another post but...

If we bring Portuguese into the mix it might shed some light into this whole question.

"Thank you!" = "Obrigado(a)!" > which literally means I am obliged or I now am obligated to repay your favor.

"You are welcome!" = "De nada" > I'm basically saying to that person who thanked me that it didn't cost me anything (effort or otherwise) so he/she doesn't owe me anything.

Hope that helps!

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