If you´ve come across the expressions ‘de nada’ and ‘por nada’ when learning Spanish, you might be wondering if there’s any difference between them …
… and, well, you’re in luck, because in this article I´m going to explore ALL the little nuances of these two common phrases!
Here’s a preview:
In short – ‘de nada’ and ‘por nada’ both translate to ‘you’re welcome’ in English. ‘Por nada’, however, is considered an Americanism by the Royal Academy of Spanish Language (i.e., an expression used exclusively on the American continent).
‘Por nada’ vs ‘de nada’
First, it’s dissection time!
- ‘De nada’ means ‘of nothing’ in English.
- ‘Por nada’ means ‘for nothing’.
And, well, they’re both used as synonyms of ‘you’re welcome’; the main difference between them being that ‘por nada’ is considered an Americanism …
… but what exactly does that mean?
In the particular case of ‘por nada’, it refers to a phrase that belongs to the Spanish language but is used – specifically – in the Americas.
This means that although you may hear ‘de nada’ being uttered all across the Spanish-speaking world, it’s far less probable that you’ll hear ‘por nada’ used in Spain.
Now, is one better than the other? The answer is no. Both are polite ways to respond to ‘gracias’ or ‘thank you’ in English.
Luisa – Pues ya me voy. ¡Muchas gracias por el aventón, chicos!
Gibrán – ¡De nada, Luisa!
Ángela – Por nada; fue un placer para nosotros.
Luisa – Well, I’m off. Thanks for the ride, guys!
Gibrán – You’re welcome, Luisa!
Ángela – It’s nothing; it was our pleasure.
Erika’s note – if you want to find out even more ways of saying ‘por nada’ and ‘de nada’, check out our article on all the different ways to respond to ‘gracias’.
Other uses of ‘de nada’ and ‘por nada’
Outside the context of expressing gratitude, both phrases are used in a more literal way.
‘De nada’ is used to mean ‘of no use’, ‘unimportant’ or ‘of anything’ –
Las luces de bengala no sirvieron de nada; los rescatistas nunca llegaron.
The flares were useless; rescuers never arrived.
¡Pareciera que no tienes miedo de nada!
It seems that you’re not afraid of anything!
And ‘por nada’ is mostly used to mean ‘not at all’, or ‘without a reason’.
No me perdería del concierto por nada en el mundo.
I wouldn’t miss the concert for anything in the world.
Te estás preocupando por nada.
You’re worrying for no reason.
Are ‘por nada’ / ‘de nada’ rude?
As I mentioned earlier, both phrases are polite ways of responding to ‘gracias’ (or ‘thank you’ in English).
However (yes, there’s an exception!), they can also be used in a sarcastic way …
… especially ‘por nada’, as is the case with the expression ‘gracias por nada’, which means ‘thank you for nothing’ in English (and shares the same sentiment).
En una llamada de atención a clientes
Asesor – Es imposible darle un reembolso.
Cliente – Pues muy bien. Gracias por nada.
In a customer service phone call
Call center agent – I can’t give you a refund.
Customer – Awesome. Thanks for nothing.
In these cases, intonation is your ally, so pay close attention to it!
Similar expressions to ‘por nada’ / ‘de nada’
No es nada
This means ‘it’s nothing’ in English, and it’s another polite way to respond to ‘gracias’.
¡Gracias por el pastel!
Oh, no es nada.
Thanks for the cake!
Oh, it’s nothing.
Mixing up ‘para nada’ with ‘de nada’ is a really common mistake as they both translate to ‘for nothing’.
However, ‘para nada’ is NEVER used as a response to ‘gracias’; it only works in a literal sense.
¡Es un bueno para nada!
He’s a good for nothing!
And that’s all, folks!
Just remember to pay close attention to intonation and context and you’ll never be left dumbfounded by either ‘por nada’ or ‘de nada’ again!
And before you move on to pastures new, be sure to give our article on ‘se gusta’ vs ‘le gusta’ a quick once over! They’re another pair of phrases that often confound learners of Spanish.