Words: welcome

Come si dice “prego” in inglese? Dopo un “thanks” vanno benissimo “welcome”, “it’s a pleasure”, ma per dire “prego, dopo di lei” ci sono altre espressioni: tutte da imparare perché in inglese è molto più importante essere educati che sapere la grammatica!

Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

Italians often ask: “How do you say prego in English?” And that is an interesting and rather (1) good question. If you are graciously replying to somebody’s thanks, then you can say, “You’re welcome” or “Don’t mention it” or, if you want to be particularly gracious and eloquent, you can say, “It’s a pleasure.” More modern expressions include, “No problem,” which is often abbreviated to “No probs,” although (2) that is rather informal, and then there’s the Australian expression (Australian accent) “No worries, mate (3),” which is now used often in Britain and America and most English-speaking countries as “No worries.” All of those are fine and all of those are effective (4)… are effective methods of expressing… of expressing  your… your acknowledgement (5) of somebody’s thanks. However, prego has a different meaning (6)  when, for example, you are standing in a lift (7) and you want to let somebody else go in front of you, you can’t say, “You’re welcome” or anything like that, that would sound rather strange. You can say, “Please, after you.” Those are probably the best ways to deal with that particular linguistic challenge (8). However, I can just add here that – this is a personal favourite point of mine – that Italians are very worried about making grammatical mistakes in English, but the point is the English won’t notice if you make a grammatical mistake, that’s not really a problem: they will appreciate the fact that you are attempting (9) to speak their language. What you should really concentrate on the fact is being polite (10) and using words like this but particularly “Please,” “Sorry” and “Thank you.” If you want to start communication with English people, these words… your politeness is far more important than your grammatical knowledge (11), and unfortunately Italians, who are raised in a grammar-obsessed education system, it really doesn’t matter: it’s far more important to concentrate on politeness than grammatical correctness. I know I say this a lot but it’s a very important  message!


1    rather: piuttosto
2    although: anche se
3    mate: amico
4    effective: efficaci
5    acknowledgement: riconoscimento
6    meaning: significato
7    lift: ascensore
8   challenge: sfida
9   you are attempting: stai cercando
10  polite: educato
11    knowledge: conoscenza



What you should really concentrate on the fact is being polite. C’è una certa ironia nel fatto che il presentatore fa un errore durante un discorso sul fatto che gli errori in inglese non siano così importanti! Avrebbe dovuto dire what you should really concentrate on is being polite. L’inclusione delle parole the fact si chiama slip of the tongue (letteralmente “scivolata della lingua”, cioè svista): è abbastanza comune nell’inglese parlato.


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