I certainly hope not.
A recent story in the HuffPost by Caroline Bologna notes that the earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary as a response to “thank you” comes from 1907. But apparently, over the years, American etiquette experts, baby boomers, and writers have lamented the apparent decline in the use of the phrase “you’re welcome” in everyday conversation.
In its place, people have started to use phrases such as, “No problem!”, “No worries!”, “Anytime!”, “Of course!”, “Sure thing!”, and “Uh huh!”
For some, “You’re welcome” has acted as a sort of comic brag or sarcastic remark.
Emily Post’s great-granddaughter Lizzie Post, co-host of the Emily Post Institute’s “Awesome Etiquette” podcast, told HuffPost. “People feel that it’s less humble. ‘You’re welcome’ also gets a snarky rep from time to time.” And in 2015, The New York Times’ Amanda Hess asked “When Did ‘You’re Welcome’ Become a Gloat?”
Diane Gottsman, founder of the Protocol School of Texas, told HuffPost. “People don’t want to appear as if they’re expecting praise. But in trying to be humble, what happens is that many of us have difficulty accepting gratitude or compliments. We tend to say things like, ‘Oh, no, it was nothing’ or ‘Oh, this old thing?’”
Gottsman believes it’s important to become comfortable accepting gratitude and responding respectfully, which she defines as using a warm, sincere tone and using the proper phrases. “If someone says ‘thank you,’ the appropriate response to show you’re accepting their gratitude is ‘you’re welcome.’
Phrases like “you’re welcome” fall into the linguistic category of phatic expressions, which are used for their social contribution rather than their literal meanings.
In a similar vein, Jean Berko Gleason, professor emerita in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University, noted that “you’re welcome” is part of what’s known as formulaic language. “It’s part of a politeness formula. …Mostly, these politeness formulas are just formulas. They don’t mean that you feel anything. For instance, parents train their kids to say ‘thank you’ whether they feel thankful or not. The important thing about ‘thank you’ is not that you feel thankful, it’s that you say it,” said Gleason. “So you shouldn’t worry about the truth value or deeper meaning of ‘you’re welcome’ if it’s just said as a formula.”
International etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore told HuffPost said she believes it’s more sophisticated than the alternate responses. “‘You’re welcome’ is a nice way to respond, it’s more traditional and it sounds more educated. From an etiquette perspective, you can never go wrong with saying ‘you’re welcome.”
Post also notes: “Don’t be fooled: ‘You’re welcome’ absolutely is still a good phrase to use.”
So my takeaway is that saying “You’re welcome” is still perfectly acceptable to use in response to “thank you.” In fact, knowing this, I might even double down and make a more conscious effort to use it when I can.
And in a pre-emptive move. I’ll just say “You’re welcome” now, in response to the many thanks I am sure I will get for this post.
P.S. While there are acceptable alternatives to using the phrase “you’re welcome”, one that is not acceptable is “your welcome.”