In short – ‘te nada’ isn’t “correct” Spanish … the phrase you’re probably looking for is ‘de nada’. The two are commonly confused by learners of Spanish because, to the untrained ear, the ‘t’ and ‘d’ sounds in Spanish are VERY similar.
‘De nada’ literally translates as ‘of nothing’, but it’s actually the most common way of saying ‘you’re welcome’ in Spanish.
Let’s find out more!
‘De nada’ or ‘te nada’
As I mentioned above, ‘te nada’ isn’t “correct” Spanish, although you may encounter these two words rather close to each other in certain sentences –
Alfonso – ¿Qué tienes?
Carla – Te digo que nada; no te preocupes.
Alfonso – What’s wrong?
Carla – Nothing, I’m telling you; don’t worry.
‘De nada’, on the other hand, is the most common response to ‘gracias’ (or ‘thank you’ in English).
The confusion arises from the fact that both the ‘d’ and ‘t’ in Spanish are so-called dental consonants, which means that in order to produce them you have to position your tongue between your teeth.
Also, the ‘t’ in Spanish is much softer than in English, so it may be difficult to recognize at times!
Anyway, if you’ve made this mistake in the past, don’t worry! It’s a common error and an easy one to fix at that!
Uses / Meanings of ‘de nada’
‘De nada’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a response to ‘gracias’
- As an expression used to minimize a situation’s importance or seriousness
- In a literal way, to mean ‘of nothing’
As a response to ‘gracias’
Your definite go-to phrase when responding to ‘gracias’ (‘thank you’ ) is ‘de nada’!
Juan Carlos – Muchas gracias por los consejos; me fue increíble en la entrevista de trabajo.
Luz – De nada, me alegra que fueran útiles.
Juan Carlos – Thank you so much for the advice; the job interview went really well.
Luz – You’re welcome, I’m glad it helped.
Erika’s note – even though ‘de nada’ is the most common way to reply to ‘gracias’, there are LOADS of other ways to respond!
As an expression to minimize a situation’s importance or seriousness
‘De nada’ is also used when explaining that something isn’t as serious as it might first seem –
Lilia – Pero, ¿por qué se pelearon?
Nico – Ay, por una cosa de nada. Ni yo entiendo por qué.
Lilia – But why did you guys fight?
Nico – Oh, it was over nothing. I don’t even understand why.
Heriberto – ¡Tengo mucho qué leer de tarea!
Janine – No manches, wey, es un librito de nada.
Heriberto – I have a lot to read for homework!
Janine – Come on, dude, it’s just a little book.
In a literal way, to mean ‘of nothing’
You may also come across sentences or ideas in which ‘de nada’ is used in a more literal sense (i.e., ‘of nothing’) –
¿Cómo puedes ser tan valiente? Es como si no tuvieras miedo de nada.
How can you be so brave? It’s like you’re not afraid of anything.
No sabía de nada de esto que me platicas. ¿Cómo es que no me enteré antes?
I literally didn’t know anything about the thing you were telling me about. How come I didn’t find out before?
Traté de animar a mi hermano, pero siento que lo que dije no sirvió de nada.
I tried to cheer my brother up, but I feel like I didn’t help at all.
‘De nada’ pronunciation
To say this phrase like a native, make sure you’re pronouncing the Spanish vowel sounds correctly.
Open your mouth and let the lower lip hang down slightly to produce the ‘a’ and position your mouth as you would when smiling to produce the ‘e’.
‘De nada’ has two words and three syllables:
- ‘De’ sounds like ‘deh’
- ‘Na’ is said like ‘nah’, and ‘da’ sounds like ‘dah’
/ deh nah-dah /
Similar phrases to ‘de nada’
‘Por nada’ means ‘for nothing’ in English, and although it can be used in a literal sense (just like ‘de nada’), it’s normally just another way of saying ‘you’re welcome’ –
Hija – Papá, te quedó delicioso el desayuno, ¡mil gracias!
Padre – Por nada*, corazón. Qué bueno que te gustara.
Daughter – Dad, your breakfast was delicious, thank you!
Father – You’re welcome, sweetheart. I’m glad you liked it.
*Erika’s top tip – if you visit Spain, it’s advisable to use ‘de nada’ instead of ‘por nada’. Find out more about these two expression in our ‘por nada’ vs ‘de nada’ showdown!
‘Para’ means ‘for’ in English, and when preceding ‘nada’, it forms a common expression akin to ‘not at all’, ‘in the least’ (and the likes) or ‘come to nothing’ –
Wanda – ¿Estás molesta?
Karina – No, para nada. ¿Por qué lo dices?
Wanda – Are you upset?
Karina – No, not at all. Why do you ask?
A pesar de haber entrenado tres horas, no estoy para nada cansado.
Despite having trained for three hours, I’m not tired at all.
La masa que hice se echó a perder. Todo mi trabajo no sirvió para nada.
The dough I made went bad. All that work came to nothing.
Even though ‘de nada’ might sound like ‘te nada’ to the untrained ear, only the former is correct! So, make sure to always say/write it with a ‘d’ instead of a ‘t’.
Ready for your next Spanish challenge? Then head on over to our article on the differences between ‘su’ and ‘tu’!