Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've noticed that in most cases, the sentence "of course", is used when someone is trying to sound superior, in a sardonic way. In constranst they use "naturally" when they are patronising someone, for instance like parents would do.

Is it true for everyday spoken and written english?

I mean, should one avoid "of course" and "naturally" in colloquial conversations.

share|improve this question
3  
Naturally, of course. –  Oldcat Feb 25 at 19:55
    
What's the difference between "superior" and "patronising" in this context? It all depends on the thing you are assuming your audience will agree with: if the assumption is felt to justified, they will be fine with it. –  Cerberus Feb 25 at 20:05
    
I have heard it in some older movies, but I have almost never heard these words used condescendingly in real life. 'I needed bread for my butter; naturally, I went to the bakery.' '"Do you love me?" I asked, to which she replied "of course I love you!"' –  Anonym Feb 25 at 20:06
    
@Oldcat That should balance things out, ha ha. –  rraallvv Feb 25 at 20:13
    
@user61979 Maybe what I mean by normal conversation, is more like slang. –  rraallvv Feb 25 at 20:23
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It all depends upon the context and intonation.

Neither phrase is inherently conceited or pedantic.

For instance:

A delicious smell was wafting through an open door. Naturally, I stepped inside to find the source of the heavenly aroma.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that statement. It doesn't carry any sort of negative connotation toward the listener.

And, you can always say of course without being haughty.

I always stop on my way home from work to buy fresh bread. Of course I usually feel guilty afterwards for the extra calories and carbs, but it has never stopped me.

It is the usage where you are adding it in front of a piece of information to barb your listener that sounds more obnoxious.

Naturally you would say that!
Of course Bill thought you should be the one to pay for the damages.
Naturally, people who buy red cars are just trying to be ostentatious.
Of course, if you eat tuna you are a dolphin killer.

So, of course you can. Just make sure you use it naturally to avoid alienating your listener.

share|improve this answer
    
Highly agreed that it's situational. The primary area where I'd automatically read it as being condescending or patronizing is if it's in direct response to a question containing that answer, for example: "Should I take the parkway?" "Of course you should take the parkway." To me, that phrasing indicates that the answer should have been obvious to the querent. –  Sean Duggan Feb 25 at 20:14
    
@SeanDuggan That is absolutely correct. There is a particular poster on this forum who uses Of course in that way for a majority of his answers. –  David M Feb 25 at 20:15
    
@SeanDuggan Thanks. I've edited to show the counterpoint. –  David M Feb 25 at 20:20
    
So, in short - if the phrase is already (slightly) condescending then these words will reinforce that; and if it isn't, then it doesn't change it? –  Peteris Feb 25 at 23:08
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.