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How come in Italian the same word is used to express the action of offering/inviting and afterwards to respond to the person who thanked you. What's the origin of it and how come the verb "to pray" is used for this?

  • As far as I can tell sequence you cited doesn't exist. In fact if you use 'prego' the other person responds 'grazie', and you cannot further adding anything, not even 'prego' again. – Kyriakos Kyritsis Dec 17 '13 at 21:09
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    @KyriakosKyritsis That is not true. I heard it numerous times used as the English equivalent of "with welcome", French equivalent "avec plaisir" etc. – symbiotech Dec 17 '13 at 22:42
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    @KyriakosKyritsis he's referring to the two different meanings and usages of the word prego: the first is "here it is/here you are/please", the second is "you're welcome" – martina Dec 18 '13 at 11:35
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I don't have any official reference for this, but from a logic perspective it means "la prego", it being a warm and polite invitation to accept an offer (a door held open, for instance).

In the same way, when someone says "Grazie", "Prego" is an invitation to stop thanking - again, polite - because the gratitude has been acknowledged.

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  • @clabacchio, that is not true, the second prego is 'with welcome' 'you're welcome' – rano Dec 18 '13 at 22:22
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    @rano I know ;) but when it comes to the ethimology, that's my answer – clabacchio Dec 19 '13 at 8:05

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