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Most of the time in all the Spanish speaking countries I've been in I've heard de nada as the reply to gracias or the equivalent of English you're welcome etc.

But after a while I became conscious that sometimes some people were instead saying por nada.

Are they actually used in different grammatical situations? Does the de vs por depend on something in the topic of what the thanking was about?

Or is it purely up to how the speaker feels, or is one more prevalent in certain places? Or is one less formal or not condoned as official by the RAE?

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In an episode of one of the "Lucy" shows, Ricky said "Por nada" to Lucy in the episode which showed how Lucy met Ricky. –  user1077 Oct 21 '12 at 2:48

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In these Word Reference threads, "por nada", "por nada vs de nada", "No hay de que; de nada; por nada", almost everyone says it's the same expression and it depends on everyone's choice.

But in the second one, someone says "por nada" is regarded as kind of rude in Spain. I am not sure about this, but I can say that while studying Spanish (note: I learnt the one from Spain), I think I never heard "por nada" but just "de nada".

And looking up the RAE for the word "nada", you can see that only "de nada" is listed. So maybe, although this doesn't prove about it being rude, it shows it's apparently more spread in the other Spanish speaking countries in Central and South America than in Spain. Perhaps native speakers can confirm this.

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I never thought "por nada" as rude if it's an answer, but you're right in Spain is rarely used. But if someone says "Gracias por nada" it is rude because it means "Thanks for nothing", I think is rude in english too. –  Laura Dec 9 '11 at 15:02
In Spain the usual answers are "de nada" or "no hay de qué". "por/para nada" sounds very weird here. BTW,"que" should be written "qué" in "no hay de qué" –  Javi Dec 9 '11 at 15:03
@Javi the "no hay de que" is directly quoted from the title, so I "can't" change it, but thank you for saying that. :) –  Alenanno Dec 9 '11 at 15:07
I've heard por nada mostly in Mexico but I think de nada should be preferred. –  Icarus Dec 9 '11 at 15:18
As a clarification, in south america, the two are quite common and never considered rude. –  Trufa Dec 9 '11 at 23:58

De nada is usually used as a polite answer after Gracias. On the other side Por nada is used when you were working on something and you didn't have a result, so you were working for nothing. In my opinion, Por nada would be then impolite answer after Gracias!

Also, direct translate of the phrases would be:

De nada = You're welcome

Por nada = For nothing.

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Honestly for me both are the same...we use it in central america to say "your welcome" in a polite way –  cayerdis Nov 11 '12 at 21:47

de nada is used after Thanks - its means you're welcome - similar to the English 'it was nothing'

por nada is For Nothing. Gracias por nada. Thanks for Nothing! used rudely if someone didn't do anything for you. I would use it if someone takes up lots of your time and then doesn't follow through.

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I don't think "por nada" is used the same way in all Spanish-speaking countries. It certainly didn't mean "thanks for nothing" when I heard it. It would be good to know which places use which meanings though. –  hippietrail May 3 at 2:09
"Por nada" is a common reply to "Gracias" as well, at least in Latin America. –  Flimzy Aug 28 at 12:00

I spent time in Chile and my understanding is that the two options mean the same thing in general, but "de nada" is more formal. Saying "por nada" implies that whatever the person is being thanked for doing or saying was so simple and easy it doesn't deserve a thank you.

For those thinking it means "Thanks for nothing", remember that, in this context, "por nada" would be a response in conversation and not said by just one person. Eva: "¿Puedo usar tu lápiz?" Tomás: "Claro, aquí está." Eva: "Gracias." Tomás: "Por nada."

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'por' is the correct one, because it is a preposition that denotes cause or reason (among other things) while none of the different usages of 'de' is suitable for this purpose; but on the other side 'de' is widely used and accepted (even by rea.es)

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Both are correct. This case is no a bad use of prepositions, they mean two different things. See for example Barbara's answer. –  Diego Aug 28 at 1:39

"De nada" is used in Spain (Europe), "Por nada" is used in America.

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This simply isn't true. Both are used heavily in Mexico. –  Flimzy Aug 28 at 12:00
Argentinian resident in Spain here, we say "de nada" in both countries. –  Quarkex Aug 28 at 13:29

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