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Imagine a situation where you clash someone on a footpath, and that person apologizes. Now how should you answer when such a trivial mistake has happened?

The only thing that comes to my mind is "no problem", but, I guess that's not good enough (it doesn't seem rude but it's not that much polite).

Is it right to just say "my fault"?!

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    You'll find many suitable (and unsuitable) answers here, here, here, .... . I don't think saying my fault is polite, unless it can actually be conceived as your fault. – Færd Mar 28 '16 at 19:34
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    What do you mean "clash" someone? Do you mean you bump into someone? Because "clash" suggests a more violent encounter. – Robusto Mar 28 '16 at 19:47
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    What dialect? I have an impression that a British speaker might say "Not at all", but this would sound a little unusual in American English. – Nate Eldredge Mar 28 '16 at 20:35
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    I don't think this is off-topic as primarily opinion-based. This question is not asking "what is the one best thing to say?" - it's asking for some guidance on how to be polite. I think we can help, even if there are some regional differences on the most commonly used phrase. – ColleenV Mar 28 '16 at 22:55
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    @mok Is the other person actually at fault in your scenario? If you were equally at fault then you would likely respond with a comment that apologizes in turn. If the other person was at fault (even though it's only a minor mistake) then a comment that forgives them would be best. – Jason Patterson Mar 28 '16 at 23:05
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Usually, when we bump into people or tread on each others toes or something like that, both people tend to say sorry. A normal exchange would be like this:

a: Sorry!

b: Sorry!

Don't say No problem or never mind or anything like that. The person is saying sorry to be polite. They probably don't feel that they have done anything wrong. They just want to be friendly and polite. Saying sorry is just a way to show that we are friendly. If you say never mind or no worries then there's a chance that you will annoy the other person. This is because you may sound as if you feel they should be sorry. They may not feel that they should be for such a trivial thing. So, just say: Sorry! And smile.

This is definitely the situation in the UK. I believe it is similar in the US.

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    Thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for, especially these parts "...They just want to be friendly and polite" and "... you may sound as if you feel they should be sorry." . – mok Mar 29 '16 at 15:47
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    +1. Good point; replying with No problem etc may sound snobbish. – Færd Mar 29 '16 at 18:03
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    You can also say "Excuse me" instead of "Sorry!" I use the Italian scusi sometimes and no-one blinks an eye at it (one of the advantages of speaking a language that steals from other languages). You can say almost anything brief and apologetic and your tone of voice and demeanor will make it OK. I haven't once encountered a person that got offended at "no worries" and I have seen someone get offended at "SORRY!" because of the tone. – ColleenV Mar 29 '16 at 19:12
  • @ColleenV Yes, agreed! It's the apologetic and friendly aspect that's important, not the exact words. – Araucaria Mar 29 '16 at 19:14
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I would say "No worries" or "No problem." or "No problem. Don't worry."

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    No worries would probably be my go to response in that situation. – Max Goodridge Mar 28 '16 at 19:21
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It's ok/all right

Don't worry about it.

No harm done

If you don't want to simply say everything is fine and want to show what the person did actually hurt alittle bit but still you want to be polite, I think you can go like this

I appreciate your apology.

I hear you.

I accept your apology.

'I hear you' can be used especially when you're in no mood to discuss it probably because what happened really was a bummer.

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