You are more than welcome

“You are more than welcome” has the same meaning as “You are welcome”- Thank you for thanking me. But the addition of the “more than” is an implication that it’s meant with a higher level of impact.

Ever since we were children, we were taught that whenever someone said thank you to us, the correct way to respond is “You’re welcome”. But recently, some people have been trying to one-up “You’re welcome” with the new “You’re more than welcome”.

This phrase means more or less the same thing as “You’re welcome”- Thank you for thanking me. However, the addition of the term “more than” is an attempt to make it more impactful.
Unlike the classic “you’re welcome” when you say “more than welcome” you’re not just implying that you acknowledge someone’s gratitude, but you were happy to do the action that made them grateful.

Etymology

“You’re welcome” might seem like a bit of an old fashioned phrase, and that’s because it is. But it’s not always been used in the sense that we’re talking about today, a response to “thank you”.

In old English Wilcuma was a desired guest, you could say someone who was “welcome” into your house.
In the 15th century, “welcome” came to mean freely allowed, even encouraged.
“You’re welcome to join me on my hunting trip tomorrow”.

There is a bit of debate as to when “You’re welcome” was first used as a response to “thank you” but my favourite theory is that it came from Shakespeare.

Phatic Speech

Phrases such as “Thank You” and “You’re welcome” fall under a category of speech known as “Phatic Speech”. This are words and phrases that don’t mean anything, and we only say them to be polite, they don’t portray any relevant information.

However, this is not to say that there’s no need to say them. Manners are an essential part of a civilised society, they are what separates us from the savageness of our ancestors who lived in caves.

But I would disagree that “thank you” and “you’re welcome” don’t mean anything.
Thank You means “I acknowledge the effort you have put in for me.”
You’re welcome mean “I acknowledge your acknowledgement”.

Tense

The tense of manners is probably not something that most of us think about too often. However, nonetheless, it’s still interesting to consider and can help us to understand the English language better.

The use of the phrase “You are” is proof that it’s in the present tense. But we can go a bit further than that.

“You are” is referring to a general truth/ permanent state, making it present simple. Another good example would be “Cows eat grass”. Both phrases are talking about things which are true all the time, not just at this exact moment.

However, this could be seen as a problem; most times, our acknowledgement of gratitude is given at a specific moment in time.

What’s more than welcome?

The real linguistic issues come about when you throw in “more than”. Is it really possible to be “more than welcome”?

How can you do more than acknowledge someone’s gratitude?

It’s similar to the phrase “More than perfect”, something which people might say about their significant other or an attractive celebrity.
Perfect means cannot improve, therefore “more than perfect” is a nonsense.

Different meanings

“You’re welcome” and “You’re more than welcome” can be used as a way of giving permission for someone to do something, perhaps even trying to convince them to do it.

For example, if you have guests round, and one of them is looking hot, you might say “You’re more than welcome to help yourself to a drink”.
In this scenario “welcome” means allowed, and has nothing to do with the acknowledgement of gratitude.

However, that sentence has many of the same flaws that the phrase does when in response to “thank you”.
If welcome means allowed/encouraged, surely being more than welcome will mean they have to?

Generational divide

Another interesting point about “you’re welcome” is the generational divide.

The younger generation tends to use it when they wish to express frustration at the lack of a “thank you”. In these scenarios, it’s usually said at a higher volume and with a hint of anger.

It’s also often used sarcastically. When someone makes a complaint, a young person might respond with “You’re welcome”.
For example, when being told that her skirt is too short, and leaves nothing to the imagination, a young lady might respond with “You’re welcome”.

The older generation, however, likes to be told “you’re welcome” whenever they thank someone. A phrase that the younger generation says but, the older folk tend to dislike is “No problem”.

And I think the older folk do have a point.

You’re welcome is an acknowledgement of gratitude for effort, but “no problem” is a denial of effort.
If you have put effort into something, no matter how little, it’s better to realise that people are thankful than it is to say words to convince yourself and others that they shouldn’t be grateful.

The issue with “You’re welcome”

The phrase itself is actually a bit of a strange one, the words within would not automatically imply that it has the meaning which people often use it for.

To be welcome to something means to be allowed it. So when you say to someone “you’re welcome” what exactly are they welcome to? You’re not offering them to enter anywhere, and you’re not giving them permission to take something from you.

But the thing with the English language is that it’s not dictated by logic, it’s dictated by tradition. And “you’re welcome” means “thank you for thanking me” just because we say it is.

Conclusion

For a very long time now we have used “You are welcome” as a way of saying “thank you for thanking me”. But the phrase has been in our language long before it can to mean that.

Recently, the phrase has gone through a bit of controversy with the younger generation, and it’s replacement “No problem” has similar issues with the older generation.
Another spanner has been thrown into the works with the introduction of the phrase “You are more than welcome”. This phrase is supposed to be just an exaggerated version of “You are welcome”, but when you look at it, it’s really just a bit of a nothing phrase.