from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

what does "thank you very much" mean there?

Does it mean that, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley have managed to make their friends get a realization, when something strange or mysterious happens, Dursley's friend would say

it definitely has nothing to do with Dursley's

2 Answers 2


Thank you very much is sarcastic when used like this.

The narrator is addressing the reader and actually means: the Dursley's were not normal at all. Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie knows that. The Dursley's never actually said they themselves were perfectly normal. It is a narrative device to describe how much they are really not normal or nice. It is also a use of irony.

The narrator shows they are not very nice people at all "Thank you very much" underlines that. They are very mean to Harry.

In English, this is used in speech, when talking to someone. And usually, it is used to say the opposite to a listener.

[It is not just British English.]

Person 1: Oh, they were a very warm family. Always bringing nice pastries to the neighbors and things like that.

Person 2: Is that right? All I saw was the rubbish they threw in the woods behind our houses, thank you very much.

Person 2 is disagreeing with Person 1 and using a sarcastic "thank you very much" to do so.


When two people meet, one might say "How are you?". The other person might reply "I'm well, thank you. How are you?", meaning "thank you for asking about my welfare."

The Dursleys are implied here to be talking to someone who has just asked how they are, maybe with a hint that they aren't quite normal. The answer claims that they are normal, followed by "thank you very much (for asking)."

The rest of the paragraph makes it clearer:
"They were the last people you'd expect to be involve in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

The Dursleys aren't talking to anyone, but the sentence is a clever way to represent their view of themselves as normal, and the politeness with which they would insist on it.
As pointed out in comments on this answer, "Thank you very much" is almost too polite, and shows that the Dursleys are probably offended at any suggestion that they aren't normal. This is all, of course, in the imaginary frame of them speaking to someone.

  • 1
    Hmm... personally, "thank you very much" seems to mean: "Why wouldn't we be normal?" It seems to suggest that they take offense to such a suggestion, rather than take it as a polite inquiry into their welfare. Maybe this is what you meant: I could have read too much into your first two lines.
    – Kman3
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 4:22
  • This is correct, but I think you could spell out more explicitly that ‘thank you very much’ is part of the rebuttal to the suggestion that they aren’t normal. Commented May 21, 2020 at 4:54
  • @Kman3 and Fivesideddice I think your comments are very much to the point. I have edited my answer to underline that aspect (the last two sentences). Commented May 21, 2020 at 5:00
  • 1
    'Thank you very much' is a British expression of indignation at a real or hypothetical suggestion. We live in Ruislip, but we don't go in for wife-swapping, thank you very much. Commented May 21, 2020 at 6:08
  • There is a distinct flavour of the working or lower middle class about that 'thank you very much' expression. Commented May 21, 2020 at 17:05

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