Author Topic: “The same to you” not a catch-all reply to expressions of best wishes  (Read 23862 times)

Mwita Chacha

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
My country's president was being interviewed by a local radio presenter on the day he was celebrating his birthday. On that special show, the interviewer allowed listeners to make calls to the station to wish their head of state a happy birthday. As expected, virtually all listeners  uttered the common social expression ''Happy birthday to you,'' but it is the president's reply to the greeting that left me particulary puzzled. Indeed, I could hear him saying ''The same to you'' in response to each I-wish-you-a-happy-birthday greeting, which suggests it was not the slip of the tongue his replication. My question is whether we don't have limits concerning the use of the expression ''The same to you'' as a polite answering to those who wish us happy something.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 02:32:27 AM by Mwita Chacha »

Joe Carillo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4677
  • Karma: +210/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: ''The same to you''
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 09:32:09 PM »
The social expression “The same to you” is, of course, a polite reply by a greeted person to a wish or greeting that’s also applicable to the one who made the greeting at the first instance. When the greeting is “Have a nice day!” or “Have an enjoyable evening!”, it’s perfectly acceptable to reply “The same to you!” or “You, too!” But when the wish or greeting applies specifically and uniquely only to the person being greeted, as “Happy birthday to you!” to a birthday celebrator, the expression “The same to you” is obviously off-tangent and terribly inappropriate. The most common and suitable response to a birthday greeting is, of course, “Thank you!” or “Thank you very much!” The president of your country was therefore ill-advised in using “The same to you” to respond to his birthday well-wishers.

For nonnative English speakers, however, it takes time and adequate exposure to get conversant with the social graces in English. This is why it behooves those who are good in English, whether native or nonnative speakers of the language, to be tolerant and forgiving of people who make public conversation gaffes like this. We obviously can’t correct them to their face—certainly not those in power or in high places—when they make such social booboos, but indirectly educating them is obviously desirable and acceptable. This is why I think this feedback of yours about the inadequate social graces of your country’s president is a step in the right direction. Who knows, this feedback just might reach him without offending him and start doing wonders to his English-language social conversations.


  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Same with you has been a habbit of Filipinos. :)