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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Il n’y a pas de quoi

We’re glad that you’re thankful for The Local’s Expression of the Day, but really, "il n’y a pas de quoi!"

French Expression of the Day: Il n'y a pas de quoi
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know il n’y a pas de quoi?

If you’re looking for a polite but relaxed response to merci or excusez-moi, this handy little phrase should do the trick.

What does it mean?

Il n’y a pas de quoi – roughly pronounced ill knee ah pah duh kwah – is somewhat of a mouthful for a simple polite response, so it often gets shortened to Il y a pas de quoi (‘Eel yah pah duh kwah’). Some people even cut it down to just pas de quoi (‘pah duh kwah’). You should be aware that the shorter the phrase becomes, the more informal it becomes as well.

This French expression can be translated most directly as ‘there’s no reason to’, and then you can add a verb corresponding to the thing that there’s no reason to do. So for instance, you might want to say “there is nothing to worry about” – you would simply add in the verb for “to worry” (s’inquiéter) and the phrase would become Il n’y a pas de quoi s’inquiéter.

Il n’y a pas de quoi is most often used on its own, however, as a friendly response to apologies or expressions of gratitude, similar to the way anglophones might say ‘don’t mention it’, ‘it was nothing’, or ‘no worries’. 

You can thank someone by responding to someone who just thanked you by saying Il n’y a pas de quoi (Don’t mention it). You can also use this expression to console someone by telling them T’inquiète, il n’y a pas de quoi (Don’t worry, it’s no big deal).

Another way you might hear a French person use this phrase would be with the variation il n’y a pas de quoi fouetter un chat, which literally means ‘There’s no reason to flog a cat’, but is used like ‘there’s nothing to get worked up about’ or ‘there’s no need to get your knickers in a twist’ would be in English.

Alternatives 

For ‘thank you’, other polite responses include de rien (‘you’re welcome’, less formal), je vous en prie (‘you’re welcome’, more formal), or avec plaisir (‘my pleasure’).

Apologies can also be dismissed with ce n’est pas grave (‘it’s no big deal’) or pas de souci (‘no worries’).

Use it like this

Il n’y a pas de quoi avoir honte. – There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.’

Ne t’énerve pas, il n’y a pas de quoi fouetter un chat. – Don’t get upset, it’s nothing to get worked up about.

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For members

FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything – and more – asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève – pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv – translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) – but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them – and more – and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.

It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people – particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes – This question of education is all the more striking because “good student” syndrome generally affects women

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