English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there any difference in expressing consent and assurance using adverbs "certainly" or "of course"? What would be more appropriate one in everyday conversation?

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

When it comes to expressing consent and assurance, I'd say the difference certainly isn't very big. :-) When faced with a question like

Can I have some more coffee?

..."Of course" would probably be a more typical reply. But there's nothing wrong with "Certainly" either (although it might sound a little more formal).

Oh, as you mention the context is everyday conversation, you should also consider something like:

Yeah, sure!


share|improve this answer
Thanks, especially for your remark about using "sure" in everyday conversation, +1 – rem Aug 11 '10 at 17:51

Certainly is used for emphasizing that something is definitely true or will definitely happen:

I certainly hope you’re right.
There certainly wasn’t any point in doing it now.

In this fashion, certainly is slightly different from of course.

When used for expressing agreement or giving permission in daily conversations, certainly and of course have the same meaning:

-We’d like you to explain your proposal to us in greater detail.
-Certainly. / Of course.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


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.