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When someone says

..., thanks.

Is it appropriate to respond with

sure

If so, in which situations it would be OK, and what exactly would it imply?

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    I think I can say confidently that I've never heard this usage (I live in the UK). I wouldn't consider it impolite, I'd just be quite confused; I might even interpret it as 'are you sure?' – Joe Aug 29 '20 at 5:37
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    @Joe - that's bizarre. It's a totally normal response in English, in all countries. – Fattie Aug 29 '20 at 17:01
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    Australian English here. I have also never heard “sure” as a response to “thanks” locally. It also sounds very strange to me (almost sarcastic). However, I’ve visited the USA a few times and have heard “sure” several times in response to “thanks”, which is odd to me, but not odd enough that I give it too much thought. I wouldn’t use the phrase, personally. – Jeremy Visser Aug 30 '20 at 12:53
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    As a Brit it makes me want to punch, kick, scream & bite if I hear someone say 'sure' to 'thanks'. It comes over as appallingly dismissive. "Thank you" "You're welcome" "Thanks" "Welcome" Abbreviate, but don't use 'sure' outside of the US. – gone fishin' again. Aug 30 '20 at 17:38
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    @Fattie - I'm really not sure where you picked up that opinion. It sounds a bit like there's a chip on a shoulder somewhere. How can you object to simple politeness? – gone fishin' again. Aug 30 '20 at 17:38
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Yes, this is a common, idiomatic response among English speakers where I live (California). It's casual, so it's mainly used for the kind of casual situation where people would say "Thanks" all by itself, like in the following:

"Could I have some of your sunscreen?"

"Sure, here you go."

"Thanks."

"Sure."

But in the following it would be out of place, because the context is not casual and the thank-you is a big deal:

"After my wife died, I was really lost. Your friendship meant a lot to me. I don't know what I would have done without you. Thanks."

"Sure."

Some people also have very strict ideas about manners, and might object to "sure" in all cases, even casual ones.

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    I could see myself saying "sure" even in response to your second example, if the speaker were a close friend — though I'd probably expand a little: "Sure. I'm here for you buddy." But that may be more of a cultural tendency to suppress strong emotions and appear unattached... – Chris Bouchard Aug 29 '20 at 2:33
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    It sounds very much an Americanism to me (Australian). I would be more likely to say "No problem" or "You're welcome". "Sure" seems a bit dismissive and ungrammatical to me. – David Waterworth Aug 29 '20 at 5:17
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    Definitely this is AmE and would sound odd to speakers of other varieties of English around the world. – J... Aug 29 '20 at 12:04
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    As a native BrE speaker, I would respond "no worries" in a casual context. IIRC, this was originally from Australia. "Sure" would sound American (casual context) and inappropriate in other contexts. – user7761803 Aug 29 '20 at 12:40
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    I think "Sure" in this context is often followed immediately by "no problem", or as Micah Windsor's answer suggests, it can be phrased, "Sure thing!" It's in the sense of "Of course," or "Happy to help." – V2Blast Aug 30 '20 at 1:39
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It depends on the person you are speaking to and the way you say it.

I don't think sure is a common way to respond to thanks, because it's potentially ambiguous. It could be interpreted as a shortened form of:

Sure thing!

, which is equivalent to Anytime! or You're welcome! It could also be interpreted as:

Sure you are...

, which is a sarcastic (read: rude) way of expressing your doubt that they are really thankful.

I would strongly suggest you only reply with Sure in a casual setting. You also want to make sure you say it with enthusiasm to avoid misinterpretation. Note the differing punctuation in my two examples.

Even better, respond in full: say Sure thing!. 'Fewer words' does not always mean 'preferable'.

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    Every single utterance in English can be delivered in a sarcastic manner. It's extremely common to reply "You're welcome" in a seething angry manner, if you are pissed off at the person and want them to not ask you for help next time. "Sure!" of course means "no problem" or "sure thing!". It's just confusing to point out that the utterance, like ANY utterance, can be delivered in a negative, reversing tone – Fattie Aug 29 '20 at 17:08
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    @Fattie yes, but ‘sure’ is more likely to be interpreted sarcastically than other, similar utterances in many places if the listener is on the fence about the message the speaker intends to send. – Fivesideddice Aug 30 '20 at 4:12
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    @Fattie 'It's extremely common to reply "You're welcome" in a seething angry manner' - What do you mean by "extremely common"? I've never heard someone say "You're welcome" angrily. Where do you live? I'm Canadian. – wjandrea Aug 31 '20 at 1:31
  • "Uttering" isn't the only form of communication; the point about sarcasm is very relevant to written forms. "Oh, sure!" is another variant that depends very much on tone but, like Micah's example, it is most likely to be read non-sarcastically. – Matthew Read Aug 31 '20 at 21:30
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in which situations it would be OK, and what exactly would it imply?

It would be okay in the USA.

If you said it in the UK, it would imply that you are using American English.


As has been said in comments, this may or may not be understood in other places than North America. If it is understood, then it is through watching American TV and cinema.

In Britain, I would expect, "You're welcome", "No problem", "Not a problem", "That's okay" or even just a smile or a nod of acknowledgement.

Depending on the exact context, some traditionally-minded people in Britain might say, "My pleasure" or "It was nothing", or (very old-fashioned) "Think nothing of it".

In Australia (I'm not an expert), I might expect, "No problem", "No worries", "You're welcome"


EDIT

See comment by @mdewey. In Britain the phrase "No worries" is increasingly used. If my memory serves, it came into use here after the release of the movie Crocodile Dundee where the phrase was used a lot by Australian characters.

You can search the script here http://www.allreadable.com/mv10758EEG8

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  • I hear "No worries" quite a lot in the UK from young people. – mdewey Aug 30 '20 at 10:55
  • @mdewey - Yes, you are absolutely correct. In fact that is the phrase that I almost always use myself (and I am not young). I'm sure I picked it up from hearing Australians say it and probably young UK people. I'll edit my answer. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '20 at 11:00
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    As an Australian, I'd sometimes say, "All good" as well as an alternative - as a shortened form of "It's all good" (which could also be used) to acknowledge the thanks. – Kayndarr Aug 31 '20 at 6:50
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    In the USA, "No worries" is the default response in chat (and conversation, for that matter) for most people in a youngish (<40 years old or so) age bracket in my experience. Definitely casual though. – Kirk Woll Aug 31 '20 at 15:58
  • @ Kirk Woll - Thanks. That accords well with my hypothesis that correlates usage with the Crocodile Dundee movie, release date December 12, 1986 – chasly - supports Monica Aug 31 '20 at 16:04
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It is a perfectly normal response that people will understand if you say it to them. I say of course when someone says Thank you, and I see that as a normal response also. The same with no problem, you're welcome, yes, etc. I see it is as a much better response than receiving no response at all.

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I'm American, born and raised, and even I wouldn't say "sure" unless I'm using it dismissively. Trying to get across that I don't care about their gratitude. This is just a product of my childhood though. When I was in Middle-school I had a teacher that would always send me out of class for responding with "sure" so to me (and her I guess) it has a negative annotation. Now I just respond with "anytime", using various levels of sarcasm to get my feelings across.

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It's only standard in parts of the USA, as far as I know. In Eastern Canada*, "sure" comes across as rude. We normally say "(You're) welcome" or "No problem" instead, or maybe "Don't mention it", "My pleasure", or "No worries". But if it's an American saying "sure", I think most Canadians will know what they mean, and not be offended.

For context, there's a cultural aspect to this: in general, Canadians and Americans are equally nice, but Canadians take a polite angle, while Americans take a modest angle, downplaying their generosity.

* I can't speak for anything west of Quebec

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  • The first part reads like Eastern Canada is one of those parts of the USA where it's not standard. – mcalex Aug 31 '20 at 9:49
  • @mcalex I'm not following. Canada isn't part of the USA. – wjandrea Aug 31 '20 at 14:44
  • Yes, but you need to know that fact Consider the similar structure in: "Oregon is blue, but support for Dems is only standard in part of the state (as far as I know). In Linn County 60% voted for Republicans." – mcalex Sep 2 '20 at 4:38
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While I would not consider replying with "Sure" to be polite, I have noticed that it is extremely common among Indian English speakers to reply with "Sure" in this context as a normal reply. Here is an example:

"Thanks, I appreciate the explanation you gave."

"Sure."

For a frame of reference, I am a traditional fellow from the deep South and hearing "Sure" in response to an expression of gratitude in formal or business contexts comes across as shockingly improper at best, and dismissive or sarcastic at worst, depending on tone. I personally would not ever say it.

In a very informal context with close friends and among the younger generations, saying "Sure, no problem," or "Sure, anytime," are more common. I cannot think of a time I have heard "Sure" by itself without it being deliberately sarcastic or dismissive, however.

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I don't even get the "sure thing" example, actually. You think it's a sure thing that I'm thankful? I'm not sure what that would mean but I don't think it's flattering. If the OP finds themselves in a group for which this seems to be convention, then, fine, go with it. If there's any chance that that the conversation partner is actually going to try to process its meaning, I'd avoid it...for sure.

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    It's not "sure thing [that you are welcome]" but "sure thing [that I'm helping you there]" in the sense of "no problem" – ljrk Aug 29 '20 at 7:33
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    "You can be sure that it was no problem". – Asteroids With Wings Aug 29 '20 at 18:22
  • Yeah, I'm not feeling it. And if I'm not feeling it, there are others not feeling it too. I think the best advice for the OP is that if someone says this to him, by all means, take it as well-intentioned. But I wouldn't use it myself, or advise anyone else to use it unless they knew it was part of the idiom of the person they were talking to. – CCTO Aug 30 '20 at 19:42
  • @ljrk I don't see a meaningful distinction. "You are welcome" means "you are welcome to my help," so both expressions say that help is readily available. – phoog Aug 31 '20 at 17:07
  • I've seen (mostly unpleasant) people become irate over "no problem" even, despite the meaning being pretty clear, just because it differs from the convention they're used to. There's certainly always reason to be aware of your audience, and some will just expect a certain level of formality. – Matthew Read Aug 31 '20 at 21:37
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Depends what they're responding to thanking you for but usually it means you messed up if they respond to you with sure or they wronged you.

Like if I asked for a cigarette and said thanks and you said sure I'd probably offer you the cig back because your welcome is the standard response. It doesn't hurt to ask why but your judgement could get you hurt.

Usually everything's kosher to speak about, your reaction should be too.

If your having a bad day or series of days it doesn't grant you the right to take it out on others. many people don't get the help they need. So they behave inapropriatly and I've seen it from many others so they assume a story or idea of a person, some kind of fictional perception aka a stereotype and make false judgements and daring Gamble's of a person's life experience without any credibility to their claims as we see in most hateful people regardless of race gender, name or most experience, knowing every minute second detail is too much for a man or woman today to be able to accomplish. Theirs details about us we don't know if and other and sometimes some details were unsure of.

The person (in my case) would say sure prior to giving you the reason to say thanks because if weighed my gift. So sure. Lol.

But sometimes gift giving is boastful to thyself. So we determine how we feel of our brag. Sometimes the boasting is seen as "cocky" but I agree. Boasting is being cocky. It doesn't look good to hate.

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    I'm having some trouble understanding what you're trying to say here. What do you mean by 'It doesn't hurt to ask why but your judgement could get you hurt'? What would you even ask 'Why' about? And to be honest... if I saw the exchange you described with the cigarette, I think I'd feel like you're the inpolite one, not the other person. The entire big paragraph in the center seems to have nothing to do with the answer... or maybe I'm missing something? I also don't see what being boastful has to do with anything. Are you saying if I use 'sure' it means I'm boasting? – Mark Aug 31 '20 at 13:25

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