How to Use the Very Common French Expression 'Bien Sûr' ('Of Course')

'Bien sûr' is both an adverb and a conjunction, a response and a link

Of course, we also do it my way...
Of course, we also do it my way... John Wildgoose/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Bien sûr, pronounced byeh(n) soor, is an adverb that means literally "very sure," but in everyday use, this French phrase has come to mean "of course" and "certainly." It is one of the most common idiomatic expressions in the French language, and other European speakers have informally adopted it as well.

There are also more colloquial translations of bien sûr that reveal its versatility. These include:

  • Oh yes 
  • Sure I will 
  • Of course, we do 
  • Sure 
  • Sure thing 
  • By all means
  • Yes indeed 
  • I sure will

Bien Sûr as a Response

The French expression bien sûr is most often used as a stand-alone response to a question or statement:

  • Est-ce que tu viens à la fête ? > Are you coming to the party?
    Bien sûr ! > Of course!
  • Un moment, s'il vous plaît. > Just a moment, please.
    Bien sûr. > Of course.
  • Tu me donnes mon stylo ? > Can you give me my pen? 
    Bien sûr, voici. > Sure, here it is.

'Bien Sûr' as a Link

Bien sûr can link clauses and ideas:

  • J'ai besoin de ton assistance, et bien sûr je te payerai. > I need your help, and of course I'll pay you.
  • Nous allons visiter le monument français le plus célèbre, je parle bien sûr de la tour Eiffel. > We're going to visit the most famous French monument; I'm speaking of course about the Eiffel Tower.

The Ironic 'Bien Sûr'

The phrase can also be used ironically:

  • Je meurs de faim, et bien sûr j'ai oublié mon portefeuille. > I'm starving and of course I forgot my wallet.
  • Nous sommes pressés, et Lise est en retard, bien sûr. > We in a hurry, and Lise, of course, is running late.

'Bien Sûr Que Oui' / 'Bien Sûr Que Non'

Bien sûr can be followed by que oui to be even more emphatic ("of course yes") or que non ("of course not"):

  • Tu le veux ? > Do you want it?
    Bien sûr que oui. > I certainly do. / Of course I do.
  • Ne vas-tu pas y aller ? > Aren't you going to go? 
    Bien sûr que non. > Of course not.

The Conjunctive  'Bien Sûr Que'

Bien sûr can also be followed by que plus a subordinate clauseBien sûr que functions as a conjunction:

  • Bien sûr qu'il va à l'université. > Of course he's going to college.
  • Bien sûr que nous mangerons ensemble. > Of course we'll eat together.
  • Bien sûr qu'elle n'avait rien compris ! > Of course, she hadn't understood a thing!

Synonyms of 'Bien Sûr'

  • bien entendu > of course, certainly
  • mais oui, bien sûr  > yes, of course
  • certainement > certainly
  • certes > certainly, admittedly, of course
  • évidemment > obviously
  • forcément > necessarily, inevitably
  • naturellement > naturally, of course 

Additional Resources

Expressions with bien
Synonyms of oui
Synonyms of non
Most common French phrases

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ThoughtCo. "How to Use the Very Common French Expression 'Bien Sûr' ('Of Course')." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, thoughtco.com/bien-sur-1371116. ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). How to Use the Very Common French Expression 'Bien Sûr' ('Of Course'). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/bien-sur-1371116 ThoughtCo. "How to Use the Very Common French Expression 'Bien Sûr' ('Of Course')." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/bien-sur-1371116 (accessed May 24, 2018).