What are the differences between response and answer?



I have to mail-back someone and I wonder if I should rather say "Thanks for your quick answer" or "Thanks for your quick response".

Can you tell me what are the differences between answer and response? Which one is the right for me and when am I supposed to use the other one?


Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

Reputation: 279

4I think it will depend upon whether that response you got solves/answers the problem or question you had. Every answer is a response but not every response is an answer. – Mohit – 2013-07-31T07:15:35.200



Anytime a person returns communication it can be called a response or a reply, while an answer is a form of response which is a solution to a problem or question. So response and reply are generic and can be used in any situation, while answer is more specific in its usage.

So if you asked a question or asked for a solution to a problem, and the person gave it to you, then you can say "Thanks for your quick answer". If it was not in one of these categories, then use response or reply since these are both generic.

And if you are still in doubt, remember that because response is generic you can use it in any situation.


Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

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An unsolicited answer is not a response. Though it's hard to imagine thanking someone for something unsolicited. – David Schwartz – 2013-07-31T10:27:58.600

1It's not hard to imagine for me. – snailplane – 2013-07-31T13:41:31.167

5As an example of the difference, if I ask "Where's the left-handed brobdingnag?", then "it's in the bottom drawer" is an answer, while "Find it yourself!" is a response. – Hellion – 2013-07-31T14:16:19.013

@DavidSchwartz If it's unsolicited then is it truly an answer, or is it a statement? – Walter – 2013-07-31T14:43:12.987

@Walter: If it happens to answer some question, it's an answer even if it wasn't solicited in response to the question. – David Schwartz – 2013-07-31T15:04:18.577

1@DavidSchwartz I'm sorry but I fail to see how a question/problem could be made known without soliciting an answer. Can you give an example of an "unsolicited" answer? Maybe it's just me, but (with the obvious exception of rhetorical questions) the mere existence of a question or problem seems to imply that an answer is desired. Maybe I just need sleep, but an unsolicited answer just doesn't make sense to me right now. – Walter – 2013-07-31T15:25:52.700

@Walter: "Four" is the answer to "What is two plus two?". But it's not a "response" to "What is two plus two?" unless someone provides it specifically as an answer to that question. – David Schwartz – 2013-07-31T15:30:47.720

1@DavidSchwartz "Four" is the answer to an infinite number of math equations... But it's not the answer to anything if no question was asked. If I didn't ask you "What is two plus two" and you simply sent me an email saying "Four" my response would be "Sorry, what?" not "Thanks for the answer." I don't see the distinction you're making here. Walter, +1! – WendiKidd – 2013-07-31T15:43:23.850

@WendiKidd "Four" is the answer to an infinite number of math questions whether anyone asks those questions or not. An "answer" is only a "reply" if it is provided in response to a question. – David Schwartz – 2013-07-31T15:58:31.090

@DavidSchwartz Yes, absolutely. But it's not an answer either if no question was asked. Take any statement in the world, and you can come up with a question that might have been asked that it could be a valid answer to. That doesn't mean that everything everyone says is an answer, just because it could possibly answer a question that wasn't asked. – WendiKidd – 2013-07-31T16:02:42.683

@WendiKidd: Yes, it does mean that everything everyone says is an answer. One definition of "answer" is "a solution to a problem". In principle, everything anyone says can be the solution to a problem, and hence can be an answer. If we happen to actually have a problem it solves, then it is even useful to describe it as an answer. For example, if I read an article online about how to fix leaky faucets, I might well write a letter to the author thanking them for giving me the answer to my problem, even though they had no idea what my problems were and weren't responding to anything. – David Schwartz – 2013-07-31T16:57:20.137

@Walter Person A asks Person B, but Person C overhears and decides to give an answer without being asked. Their answer is unsolicited. – snailplane – 2013-08-01T00:47:03.880

@snailboat Thanks, I didn't think about the possibility of a third party. – Walter – 2013-08-02T07:42:29.260


A "response" doesn't always have to be to a question. It could also be to a direct statement.

In such an instance you could agree with an expressed opinion or show that you differ.

An answer is a response to a question.

But based on context, it may be better to thank the individual for the act of responding quickly and then you can move on to discuss elements of the answer given.

Does it suffice? Do need more clarity around certain things? etc.


Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

Reputation: 156


In a letter, it would be better to use , "Thank you for your response." However in most situations they are synonyms. However in the US we use answer more than response. All of his answers were incorrect on the test. Please answer me when I ask you a question.

Judy Friedkin

Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

Reputation: 11


A "response" is in my book more referring to the act of responding while an "answer" refers more to the content of a response to a question. So when being thankful, I'd lean towards thanking for the speed of a response and the helpfulness of an answer.


Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

Reputation: 11


A response seems to be an acknowledgement of a question. For example, a woman may give a response to the question "what is your name?" by sneering at the person asking the question. The sneer does not answer the question but it acknowledges its existence. It is a response.

However, an answer addresses the "concerns" raised by a question. The same example above will only be answered by the giving the name to the person who asked.


Posted 2013-07-31T07:01:32.957

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