“You’re welcome” is more than just the name of a song in the popular Disney movie Moana; it’s also a common idiom. And just like Disney movies, English idioms adapt with time.
It is correct to say “you are very welcome” as this phrase is a thoughtful way to respond to someone’s expression of gratitude, such as “thank you.” It expresses a greater degree of welcomeness than other customary and correct responses like “you are welcome” and “you’re welcome.” Since the latter options have become somewhat cliche, some people advocate adding “very.”
To learn more about how to use the phrase “You are very welcome,” keep reading.
What Does “You Are Very Welcome” Mean?
Sometimes, rather than simply responding to someone’s gratitude, you’ll also want to add emphasis. So how exactly does this alter the meaning of “You are welcome”?
The adverb “very” refers to a high degree of something or a given statement’s factual nature. When it functions as an adjective, it refers to something’s specific nature (source). Consider the below sentences:
- The frying pan was very hot.
- It was at that very moment I knew he was the love of my life.
The first sentence refers to the extreme heat of the frying pan. Therefore, in it, “very” indicates a high degree or an excess of that quality. In the second sentence example, the speaker uses the word “very” to stress the exact time (noun) of the event.
So, if we take the sentence “You are very welcome,” we understand it stresses the level of the quality of “welcomeness.”
What Is the Meaning of “You Are Welcome?”
The phrase “You are welcome” can be somewhat complicated with regard to differentiating between using it as an idiom versus a non-idiomatic phrase.
Understanding “You Are Welcome” as an Idiom
“You are welcome” is an idiom that you may regularly use in communication. Just remember that you’re more likely to use the contraction “You’re welcome” or “You’re very welcome.”
An idiom is a phrase or expression with a meaning that differs from the words that make it up (source). This indicates that the meaning is figurative rather than literal. It is often difficult to conclude the meaning based on the words that make up the expression.
“You are welcome” is an idiom when you use it to respond to someone thanking you. It is essentially a polite way to state you didn’t mind doing a favor for that person and that they’re under no obligation to you (source). Consider the conversation below:
Person 1: Thank you for letting me borrow your jacket.
Person 2: You are welcome.
Alternatively, Person 2 could have used “You’re welcome.” This is similar to “No stress” or “No problem.”
Using “You Are Very Welcome” as an Idiom
However, the word “very” also plays a different role based on whether you are using “You are welcome” idiomatically or not. For example, compare the two dialogues below.
Person 1: Thank you for picking up Aly from school.
Person 2: You are welcome.
Person 1: Thank you for dropping Aly at school.
Person 2: You are very welcome.
These two dialogues are nearly identical, but if you imagine it, the second one does seem more friendly or even more thankful than the first.
This is because “You’re welcome” has become a habitual response. We often expect it or and say it without much thought — and the recipient often does not give it much thought either.
However, by saying, “You are very welcome,” you are stressing that you were more than just happy to do what you did; it wasn’t too much effort, and you would surely do it again if they asked you.
Understanding the Non-Idiomatic Form
You may also come across “You are welcome” in sentences that aren’t responses to thanks, and we can take the words literally. When you use “You are welcome” as simply an expression or statement, it stands in place of the phrase, “It is acceptable for you to ____.”
Here are some examples:
- The school librarian told me, “You are welcome to come here when you’d like.”
- You are welcome to join us.
- “You’re welcome to visit and see Rover whenever,” my neighbor told me.
Unlike a response to thanks, the non-idiomatic form of the expression communicates that a person is able to or permitted to do something and do so in a way that is welcome to others.
Often, people will use the phrase in this way when they feel that another may be shy or uncertain in a situation. If you know that a friend, for example, is hesitant to join you for lunch, you might add the phrase “You are welcome” to emphasize your desire for your friend to attend.
“You Are Very Welcome” as a General Expression
“You are welcome” can also be part of a sentence without being an idiom. In these situations, “You are welcome” implies that something is permissible or acceptable.
- You are welcome to have some more.
- “You are welcome to leave if you’re bored,” the teacher remarked sarcastically.
When you put “very” before “welcome” in this context, you are just stressing that the action is acceptable and that you’re happy with it.
- When we open the sugar, you are very welcome to take as much as you need.
- You are very welcome to join us during the next recess.
You Are Welcome as Sarcasm
Bear in mind that people sometimes use “You are welcome” or “You’re welcome” sarcastically. Sarcasm is when a person uses words that are essentially the opposite of what they are actually saying.
This is evident in the example below:
- You’re welcome to shop elsewhere if you consider our service so horrendous.
You can also use the phrase sarcastically as an idiom too. You’ll often see scenarios where someone offers something or has something taken from them without thanks, and they respond with “You’re welcome.”
You do this to:
- Indicate annoyance at a lack of thanks/remind someone to show gratitude.
- Tell someone they didn’t have permission to take what they took in the first place.
Remember that you don’t want to communicate sarcasm in formal writing or in situations where you do not know a person well, as sarcasm often hurts another’s feelings, quite the opposite of the phrase’s original purpose.
Which Is Which: Idiom or General Phrase?
So how do you know whether “You are welcome” functions as an idiom rather than a group of words?
The idiom “You are welcome” usually has a message of gratitude before it. Sometimes, especially when sarcasm is involved, it does not. But in that case, the speaker is using it to point out a lack of gratitude.
If it’s a literal phrase, there will not be an expression of gratitude before it. In these situations, “You are welcome” simply gives permission and/or states that something is acceptable.
Understanding the Phrase “You Are Welcome”
You’re far more likely to hear “You are welcome” or “You’re welcome” than “You are very welcome.” This is because “you’re welcome” is the most basic way to respond to someone’s gratitude.
Note: Remember that most people write and say “you are” as a contraction. So “you are” becomes “you’re.” However, formal, academic, and legal writing strongly discourage the use of contractions.
When speaking and writing informally, “you’re” is more common as it saves time and, when writing, space. You’ll see and hear “you’re” far more often than “you are.”
Also, make sure not to confuse “you’re” with the pronoun “your.” It’s a common mistake due to the words being homophones — words with different meanings that sound similar. While “you’re” is a contraction, “your” is a word that shows possession, such as your book or your phone.
Subject and Linking Verb: “You Are”
The first word, “you” in “you are welcome,” is a second-person pronoun that refers to the person you are addressing.
If you’d like a refresher course on pronouns, make sure to look over the article “You and I or You and Me: Understanding the Correct Use of these Pronouns.” It offers a helpful guide on the different types of pronouns and how to use them.
The second word in the phrase is the linking verb “are,” which is a present tense form of the verb “to be.” In this phrase, “are” is also in the second-person singular present if you’re referring to one person and the second-person plural present if you’re referring to more than one person.
A linking verb differs from a conventional verb; rather than indicating an action, it connects the subject to the predicate, meaning information about the subject (source). Other common linking verbs are “is,” “am,” and “become.”
Meaning and Usage of “Welcome”
The last word, “welcome,” is where a lot of the confusion comes into play.
“Welcome” is something you might associate with greetings. This is mainly because “welcome” is a type of greeting, similar to “hi” or “hello.” It is also a way to refer to the manner of greeting someone.
“Welcome” has three forms; it can either function as a noun, verb, or adjective.
- He bid me welcome as soon as I walked in.
- The other singers welcomed me to the choir.
- No one came to their house without a warm welcome.
Think, as well, of the object we know as a “welcome mat.” A welcome mat is a small rug that people put outside their houses. They usually have text that says “welcome,” “come in,” or, at times, a more creative or humorous greeting, such as “You shall not pass.”
The verb or adjective form of “welcome” also refers to accepting something happily:
- She was always someone who welcomed a challenge.
- I was welcome to come and go at my leisure.
When it comes to the phrase “You are welcome,” the meaning relates mainly to the second definition, to accept something with joy or happiness.
“Welcome” in our main phrase functions as a predicate adjective. This means that it describes the subject of the sentence (i.e., “you”) (source).
Breaking Down the Grammar of “You Are Welcome”
“You are welcome” as a complete thought or phrase is an example of an independent clause. An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence (source).
Remember that a complete sentence must contain a subject, a verb, and a full idea (source). “You are welcome” consists of a subject (the pronoun “you”), a verb (“are”), and a predicate completing the idea, which is why it can stand alone.
You can also add “You are welcome” to one or more phrases or clauses to produce a more complex sentence, such as “You are welcome, and I was glad to help.”
How Do You Say, “You Are Very Welcome”?
Finally, we will cover the pronunciation and the common usage of the expression “You are very welcome,” as well as provide a few alternatives.
Below, we’ve provided a table listing the pronunciation respellings from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD), and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (MWCD) (source):
|IPA||/ju:/||/ɑː/ or /ə/||/ˈvɛri/||/ˈwɛlkəm/|
|NOAD||/yo͞o/||/är/ or /ɑr/||/ˈverē/ or /ˈvɛri/||/ˈwelkəm/ or /ˈwɛlkəm/|
|MWCD||\ˈyü , yə also yē\||\ˈer or ˈär\||\ˈver-ē or ˈve-rē\||\ˈwel-kəm\|
We pronounce the first word, “you,” as essentially the long vowel sound for “u.”
The second word, “are,” sounds like /är/ or /ɑr/ — not to be confused with the “Arrrr” sound associated with pirates. Both “a” and “e” in this word are short vowel sounds.
The first two words are reasonably easy to pronounce because they consist only of a single syllable.
The third word, “very,” consists of two syllables and a short and long “e” vowel sound (in place of the “y”).
“Very” has a pronunciation nearly identical to another English word, “vary.” The two words are homophones, so their meanings differ.
“Welcome” may seem more complicated due to how many letters are a part of it. However, this word has only two syllables as well. Every vowel in this word uses a short vowel sound.
Examples: How to Use “You Are Very Welcome”
Think of it in this way: if someone thanks you for something, there are multiple responses you can give. Look at the sentence below and consider any possible responses:
- Thank you for fetching Aly from school yesterday.
While talking, “You’re welcome” is the most straightforward response. Therefore, you can also use “You are very welcome.”
There are also more complex responses you can use, such as:
- It’s no problem; you are very welcome.
- You are very welcome. She was en route, so it was no trouble at all.
When “You are very welcome” is not an idiom, you’ll find it doesn’t stand on its own for the most part. This is because it gives permission and states that something is acceptable. Because of this, you need to elaborate on what that “thing” is.
For example, it might stand alone if someone asks a question:
- Question: Can I borrow your book?
- Response: You are very welcome to it.
However, it may include attachments even in these situations:
- Question: Can I borrow your book?
- Response: You are very welcome to borrow it.
- OR: You are very welcome to borrow my book.
Additionally, clarity is necessary for other situations because, often, someone may not ask for something, but the speaker still gives permission.
My aunt caught me staring at the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. “You’re very welcome to have some,” she said.
“You’re welcome to go to the restroom when necessary,” Mrs. Smith said, “Just make sure to tell me beforehand.”
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Other Ways To Say “You Are Very Welcome”
There are many ways you can respond to a simple thank you:
- You are (formal)/You’re(informal) very welcome.
- No problem.
- It’s my pleasure.
- No stress/worries.
- That’s alright.
- (It’s) No problem.
- Glad/Happy to help.
- Don’t mention it.
- It’s the least I could do.
English is a complicated language, and, at times, you may hesitate to use words and phrases that seem too “basic.”
However, the truth is that in English, common words and phrases get the point across in the most convenient way, as is evident in the case of “You are welcome.”
If you wish to mix it up with minimal effort, it is correct to insert “very” after “are.” Otherwise, when it comes to English, you have many choices when it comes to how to respond to a simple “Thank you.”