the difference between words: yes and sure


Today I’d like to go over something which seems very simple but can be quite confusing: when to use “yes” and when to use “sure” as a response.

We use “yes” as a response to a question about factual information. For example:

A: Are you coming to the party tomorrow night?

B: Yes. I’ll be there at about 7:00.


A: Do you like Mexican food?

B: Yes. I like it very much.


A: Have you ever been to Korea?

B: Yes. I’ve been there many times.

We use “sure” as a response to someone’s request. For example:

A: Can you help me with my project?

B: Sure. What do you need my help with?


A: Could you turn down the music please? It’s a little loud.

B: Sure. I’ll do that right now.


A: Would you pick up some milk at the supermarket before you come home tonight?

B: Sure, no problem.

The word “sure” is quite casual, so we don’t use it in formal business situations. In those situations, it’s better to use “certainly” or “of course”.

Sometimes in casual conversations people use “sure” or “of course” to respond to questions about factual information but, in these cases, it sounds stronger than simply saying “yes”. For example:

A: You’re coming to the party, aren’t you?

B: Of course! I wouldn’t miss it!


A: Do you like Mexican food?

B: Sure! I think it’s amazing!


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