I have started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I was way too excited for my first English book reading. But after I started reading it, I got stuck and can’t go onward.

The question is why they put “Thank you very much” in a very strange place:

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

“Thank you very much” – what does it mean here?


3 Answers 3


To add 'thank you very much' at the end of a statement can be a sarcastic way of dismissing someone or something, or of implying indifference or lack of interest. It expresses the opposite of gratitude. It is a little old-fashioned, and can be suggestive of a closed mind not open to new possibilities, and proud of being so.

All these avocado latte and bubble tea bars! We like our good old cup of tea, thank you very much!

All this New Age hocus-pocus! We're Church of England, thank you very much.

All this talk about mindfulness and mental health! We're perfectly normal, thank you very much.

You should cook sometimes!
I cook almost every night, thank you very much.

Thank you very much

  • 2
    I like the examples used. Did you come up with these on your own sir?
    – DialFrost
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 10:21
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    @DialFrost He came up with those all on his own, thank you very much.
    – Thierry
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 20:51
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    Perhaps also worth pointing out that you wouldn't normally expect to find this phrase in the middle of prose, but because of it being a children's book first and foremost, the early books especially have a much more conversational tone than ordinary prose. This is an old tradition for children's books, they're often written as if the narrator is talking to the reader.
    – Muzer
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:47
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    I'm not sure I agree with "and can be suggestive of a closed mind not open to new possibilities". It certainly can be used for that, but I don't think it implies that itself. In your example sentences, it's the first part (rather than "thank you very much") that implies close-mindedness. Joachim's answer is more accurate.
    – Omegastick
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 11:42
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    whilst I agree that all of these examples are of the same use, I think the explanation given here is wrong. It doesn't imply indifference or lack of interest at all. As said in Joachim's answer it expresses indignation at the suggestion that they might be otherwise. I.e. in the sentence in the OP, the Dursleys are expressing their indignation that they might be thought not to be normal
    – Tristan
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 12:42

It emphasizes how perfectly normal they insist they are (thank you, John :).

I was wondering if I would be able to find this specific definition of the phrase, but Wiktionary actually has an entry for this use:

Expressing indignation that anyone could doubt the preceding statement.

So it means something like "they were perfectly normal, and if you don't believe that, shame on you".
'Indignation' could be defined as feeling hurt by or being angry because something that is perfectly true or logical is not believed by someone.

  • 20
    I'd say it emphasizes how perfectly normal they insist that they are, even if it's not quite true. Indignance at any suggestion to the contrary is exactly the right implication. And of course, in Harry Potter, this sets the conflict between the Dursleys and Harry that runs throughout the series. Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 19:02
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    I agree with this and I think that the point being made, in the book's context, is that Mr and Mrs Dursley consider themselves to be exceptionally "normal" and are indignant at the thought that someone else might assume otherwise, giving the implication that there must be some reason why someone might question it, in the first place. Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 0:05
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    I agree and I think there is an overtone meaning "and it's none of your business."
    – Wastrel
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 13:05
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    @Khale_Kitha exceptionally "normal" is a beautiful oxymoron ;)
    – Stef
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 14:37
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    @MichaelHarvey The writing he explicitly complained about--"...said Snape maliciously," "... said Harry furiously", " ... he said glumly", "... said Hermione severely", "... said Ron indignantly", " ... said Hermione loftily"--is probably far easier to read for an English learner or beginning reader to read than anything the Guardian author would consider to be from "the world's greatest writer".
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 16:33

“Thank you very much,” is a phrase often used to end a conversation politely. In this context, the phrase would tell someone that the Dursleys don’t want to discuss the topic any further. You might also hear, “Thank you for your concern,” or “Thank you for asking,” which makes it more explicit what the other person is being thanked for. It’s a formality, and doesn’t mean someone is truly grateful. If whoever says this doesn’t ask for help or advice, that communicates that the person they’re talking to should not offer.

Unlike, for example, “Have a nice day,” this doesn’t necessarily mean the person saying it wants to end the conversation, only change the topic.

So, we’re being asked to imagine that people sometimes wondered or suggested that there was something a little different about the Dursleys. Whenever that happened, they would insist that, no, they were “perfectly normal,” and immediately halt that line of conversation. They might even have said they were “perfectly normal” themselves, without being asked, and then said “Thank you very much,” to tell other people not to suggest otherwise. That would be very strange behavior (suggesting that there really is something not-so-normal about them that they want to hide), but the Dursleys are the kind of slapstick characters who might do that.

  • 3
    Absolutely an underrated answer! Michael's and Joachims answer hit the nail on the head when it comes to the feelings that motivate the use of the phrase (dismissal / indignation), but your first paragraph describes the function of the phrase perfectly: A polite but assertive means of signaling that a topic is not open to further discussion.
    – MvZ
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 8:54
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    No, this is the wrong answer to the OP's example, where the phrase is being used in an indignant, almost sarcastic way.
    – MikeB
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:24
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    @MikeBrockington That’s one theory. It’s not very realistic, but the Dursleys are cartoonish buffoons. But look at one of the few times they’re not, their final appearance in chapter 3 of The Deathly Hallows, when Dudley and Harry get some reconciliation. Vernon and Petunia keep trying to end the conversation politely: “Well, this is goodbye, then, boy,” “Ready, Duddy?” “There you are. Now come on. We’re off,” et cetera. None of that is said indignantly or sarcastically. They’re just trying to avoid the Wizarding World and anything that reminds them of it. It makes them uncomfortable.
    – Davislor
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 11:22
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    The Dursleys wouldn't be saying it sarcastically, but the narrator certainly is!
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 13:26
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    @Mike, I think that even when used sarcastically, it still indicates that the matter isn't open to further discussion (and is still pretty polite), so this answer does have value in addition to the other ones (which I feel are a little more on-target). Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 17:59

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