But of course!

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,296 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 2019 in Vocabulary

'Of course' is a common expression in English. But what does it mean?

Students will often hear English speakers saying, 'Of course', or 'But of course'. 

This expression means 'yes, obviously, without a doubt.', and is often used at the beginning of a response to something someone has said that is clearly obvious.

For example, when at a restaurant, a customer sees a waiter and asks:

Customer: "Could you please help me with my order?"

Waiter: "Of course. What would you like?"

The waiter responds with 'Of course' because everyone clearly and obviously knows (even a small child) that a waiter's job in a restaurant is to help people with their order.  So, that's why the waiter responds with 'of course' (and usually with a smile on his face, too!). 

Consider another example:

Tom: "I was born in Australia.  I went to Australian primary and high schools.  I studied at university in the USA."  

Student: "Can you speak English?"

Tom: "Of course."  Because everyone knows (even a small child) that people who live in Australia and the USA speak English.

However, consider this incorrect example:

Student: "Did you enjoy living in the USA?"

Tom: "Of course."

What's wrong here?  Well, the problem is that not everyone knows that Tom enjoyed living in the USA.  To answer with 'of course' can be like saying 'you're stupid' - because you did/didn't know that Tom enjoyed living in the USA.  Put another way: be careful when using the expression "Of course", as it is telling the listener that he or she should not doubt the information.  

Consider the next example:

Dental assistant: "What time is your booking with Dr Scarpari?"

Student: "10:30 of course."

What's wrong here?  Click below for the answer...

The problem is that it was not clear and obvious what the time was.  When 'of course' was used in this example, it's as though the student was telling the dental assistant that she was stupid for not knowing the time.  Be very careful with your use of 'of course'!

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