Imagine you’re leaving work, and your best friend gives you a call to say that they’re bringing you your favorite meal. You’re full of thank you’s and gratitude, but your friend simply responds with “anytime.”
“Anytime” means “you’re welcome” when you use it colloquially. As society moves away from more formal language, using synonymous words and phrases including “no problem,” “no stress,” or “anytime” have become commonplace. Of course, different languages and cultures have their own variation of the phrase, but “anytime” is a widely understood synonym for “you’re welcome.”
You shouldn’t confuse “anytime” with “any time,” however. To find out the difference and how to thank people without saying “you’re welcome,” keep reading.
The compound word “anytime” is something that originated more recently. The words “any” and “time” come from Old English as “ænig,” which, at the time, referred to anyone. Old English “tima” referred to the limitation of time or a specific period.
“Any time” and “anytime” have slightly different meanings. The original phrase is “any time,” with a space between the two words, and it refers to “any period in time.” It is a phrase with “any,” and you will most often precede it with “at.”
- When I open the door at any time, the cat bolts out.
- Death can befall someone at any time.
- I’ll meet you at any time, any place.
Conversely, although some people consider it somewhat informal, “anytime” as a singular word has become more common. When we write it as one word, it is an adverb. Thus, it means “whenever” or “at any time.”
- You’re welcome to come over anytime.
- Anytime I have extra money, some expense pops up.
- This drink is so good on a hot day, but it’s also refreshing anytime.
“Anytime” can also refer to a time that individuals have not agreed upon (source). But you cannot precede the adverb form with “at” — we always write it as two words in those cases.
“Anytime” as a Response to “Thank You”
“Anytime” was not always a response to someone saying “thank you.” For a significant period of time, the correct and formal answer to “thank you” was “you’re welcome.” This convention has changed, however, due to a kinder and more considerate awareness.
When someone is thanking you and you reply with “you’re welcome,” the implication might be that whatever you did that required thanks was challenging to do.
As a society, we have become more conscious of causing offense and often do not feel that it’s necessary to make the person thanking us feel bad or off-put because we did them a favor.
A lot of people struggle to accept compliments, and in the same way, replacing “you’re welcome” with “anytime” or “no stress” is a way to lessen our feelings of deserving so much thanks or praise.
However, there is some resentment from etiquette experts who do not like replacing “you’re welcome” as a formal response to “thank you.”
But since the phrase and its iterations are part of phatic communication, there’s not much that you can do to change it. People will use whichever synonym they prefer.
“You’re Welcome” and its Synonyms
Linguists classify “You’re welcome” as phatic communication or communication that is solely for social purposes. It does not provide any information or serve any other purpose than being polite and expressing gratitude (source).
Although their meanings are somewhat different, you can use a few synonyms for “you’re welcome.”
- My pleasure.
This common phrase is the closest to “you’re welcome,” indicating that the speaker is happy to do something.
- I’m happy to help.
This particular phrase is most useful when providing some kind of service or help to someone. It is also very similar to “you’re welcome.”
- No problem/No worries.
These phrases have a similar meaning as it is telling the “thanker” that doing a favor or service was not something to worry about or did not inconvenience the speaker.
- Forget it/Don’t mention it.
This may indicate humility in the speaker who does not feel comfortable being thanked for their service or feels that their service was not worth the gratitude.
- Not at all/It’s nothing.
These are all quite dismissive phrases that some consider rude, even though the intention is to set the “thanker’s” mind at ease. Instead, it comes across as harsh as it minimizes the feelings or gratitude of the “thanker.”
Sometimes these responses come across as rude as well. They are very dismissive and tell the “thanker” that their gratitude is barely worth any acknowledgment.
All of the above phrases can be synonyms for “you’re welcome,” but there is a specific time and place for each of them, and you may want to adjust depending on your audience (source).
You may also find it ideal to use “thank you” in other contexts or to thank multiple people. To find out more about the phrasing and its origins, read “Is It Correct to Say “Thank You Both”?”
How Do You Respond When Someone Says “Anytime”?
There is no specific response to “anytime” as it forms part of social communication. However, it is a possible response to “thank you” and does not require any follow-up. At that point, you can continue doing what you were doing, change the subject, or leave the situation or conversation.
“Anytime” versus “Any Time”
As we mentioned previously, “anytime” is an adverb, and “any time” is an idiomatic phrase. They have similar meanings, and you can use them interchangeably some of the time, except when writing “any time” directly after the word “at” since, in that case, only “any time” is acceptable.
There may be confusion surrounding the use of the word “any.” “Any” functions in a multitude of ways, and these can overlap at times.
First, “any” is a determiner. It shows a lack of restriction or innumerable choices in a particular situation.
- The concert is going to start at any moment now.
- I don’t have any choice in the matter.
- Any man or woman can walk in and do the job.
When referring to any moment in time, “any time” is the correct form.
Second, “any” is a pronoun. It refers back to an object in a dependent clause or indicates the many choices available.
- I begged him for some water, but he said he didn’t have any.
- There are several reasons to say “no,” and she didn’t use any of them.
- Any of these houses could be the right one. How are we going to find it?
Adverbs and Indefinite Pronouns
To understand where “anytime” fits into language, we have to break down a few elements of both adverbs and indefinite pronouns, as “any” can fall under both categories.
“Any” as an Adverb
“Any” is a common adverb that you would usually follow by the comparative form of an adjective. It means to some extent or degree.
- The day could not have gone any better.
- If you were any more intelligent, you would rival Einstein.
- Is there any more chocolate?
There are times when you can use “any” with an adverb, but it does not require a comparative adjective.
- He was never any good at drawing, but he could paint like Monet.
- Did the painkillers help? No, they didn’t help me any. My head is still killing me.
Note that grammarians consider the latter use of “any” in response to the painkillers as slang in most contexts or very informal. Therefore, you should avoid using “any” in this way in formal writing or speaking.
If you find yourself struggling to use adverbs correctly or not even being sure what an adverb is, read “Is It Correct to Say, “Absolutely Beautiful”?” to help you break down the part of speech.
“Any” as an Indefinite Pronoun
“Any,” when you use it as a pronoun, indicates the replacement of a person or thing. However, it cannot replace all people or items, and you must use it in a particular way.
“Any” is an indefinite pronoun and refers to an unspecified person or object. Therefore, when you use it to replace a person or people, you must refer to someone unspecified. If you mention a specific person, you will revert to the normal “he/she/them” pronouns.
Let’s examine the following sentence: “Sally is the smartest student of any that came before her.”
When referring to Sally, we still use the female pronoun, her. However, there is an unknown number of students who came before her. So, in that case, you can use the pronoun “any.”
When you use “any” to replace an inanimate noun, it refers to the noun later in the sentence, as you can see in the below examples.
- I was looking for a good book, but the bookshop didn’t have any.
- She told me to watch his movies, but I haven’t seen any.
- I have an idea, but he doesn’t have any.
“Any” refers to the book in the first example. In the second, “any” refers to the movies. And, finally, in the third, “any” refers to ideas.
While the previous sentences all refer to specific items, none are named; hence they are indefinite pronouns. Books, movies, and ideas are all umbrella terms that refer to an innumerable number of these objects.
“Anybody” and “Anyone”
“Anybody” and “anyone” are both examples of indefinite pronouns. When “any” connects to a noun like “body” or “one,” it changes the way that you would perceive that noun.
“Anybody” and “anyone” are in direct contrast to “everybody” and “everyone,” even though they are all indefinite pronouns (source).
“Everybody” refers to a group of people. It is an umbrella term that you can use to refer to an infinite amount of people. In contrast, “anybody” refers to multiple people without being specific — it can be one person or many.
The same rule applies to “everyone” versus “anyone.” “Everyone” refers to a group of people and includes all of them in the statement, while “anyone” refers to one unidentified person in that group.
- Everybody is going out shopping on Black Friday.
- Does anybody know where the best Black Friday sales are taking place?
- Everyone is a suspect.
- Anyone could have walked in here and killed him.
The difference between “anyone” and “anybody” is that “anyone” is singular, while “anybody” is plural, despite both referring to one person.
Let’s examine the previous sentence: “Anyone could have walked in here and killed him.” This sentence refers to one person only. In this case, the speaker assumes there is only one murderer.
Now, let’s look at the other sentence: “Does anybody know where the best Black Friday sales are taking place?” In this one, the speaker is questioning a group of people. While they may only get an answer from one person, they are asking for as many answers as possible.
“Some” and “Any”
“Some” and “Any” are both examples of indefinite pronouns. You would generally use “some” in a positive sense to refer to the existence of something, while you would usually use “any” in context with a negative connotation to indicate the absence of something.
You can use both “some” and “any” for plural and uncountable nouns. “Some,” like “any,” can also function as an adverb.
- I can give you some chocolate if you want. (Positive count noun)
- I don’t have any chocolate for you. (Negative count noun)
- Do you have some time to meet up today? (Positive uncountable noun)
- No, I don’t have any time to meet up. (Negative uncountable noun)
Can I Say “You’re Welcome Anytime”?
You can say “You’re welcome anytime,” but the meaning is significantly different. In this case, you are not using “you’re welcome” as phatic communication. “You’re welcome” refers to the act of greeting or inviting someone.
- You’re welcome to visit anytime.
- You are very welcome to our home anytime.
- You’re welcome to eat with us anytime.
With the addition of “anytime,” you are saying that the person is always invited to your home or business.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
If you use “you’re welcome anytime” as a response to “thank you,” this comes across as redundant since you are repeating the same response twice. You may find this response in everyday speech, but it is not technically accurate.
You can use “anytime” as a response similar to “you’re welcome,” but its meaning is not the same. “You’re welcome” indicates pleasure to the thanker, while “anytime” puts the thanker at ease, assuring them that the task or favor was not of any trouble.
However, when using synonyms for “you’re welcome,” you should be careful of your audience and purpose. Even though all the phrases show some level of gratitude, some are more appropriate than others.