The phrase “of course” is already well-established in English. Most speakers and learners know what it means. The phrase “but of course” is a completely different problem. This article will look at what it means and how to use it.
What Does “But Of Course” Mean?
“But of course” means “naturally” or “certainly.” We use it when the question or answer is already clear. It’s typically a demeaning or insulting way to say “I already knew that” (i.e., “I need help with this homework.” “But of course you do, you’re only a child!”).
The definition of “of course,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “used to show that what you are saying is obvious or already known.” We can apply this meaning with the inclusion of the word “but.”
As we’ve mentioned, “but of course” is generally more condescending than the typical “of course.” Many people might be insulted if you say this to them, as it reminds them of how adults would speak to them as a child.
However, sometimes, it’s regarded as a posh way of saying “of course.” Many upper-class English speakers would say “but of course” synonymously with “of course.”
How do you use “But of course” in a sentence?
To help you understand when it works best, we will include some examples. From there, you can start to use it yourself (or know what it means when other people use it when talking to you).
- But of course, I don’t have to tell you the answer to your silly question.
- But of course, you should already be in bed, my child.
- I don’t like you, but of course, you already know that.
- I’m not keen on chocolate, but of course, that’s a well-known fact.
- Don’t talk to me like I’m a child, but of course, I am one.
- You’re not going to eat that, but of course, you’ll act like you will.
- But of course, you can’t make me cry no matter how hard you try.
- But of course, I’ll take your finest cakes!
- But of course, we must reconvene when it suits our schedules.
- You have many issues, but of course, your therapist has made that clear.
- I’d like to discuss terms with you, but of course, you will turn me down.
- But of course, I’m happy to hear what you have to say!
“But of course” is used at the start or in the middle of a sentence to indicate that the following clause was obvious. Whether the person already knows the answer or we’re belittling their intelligence, we use “but of course” to show that an answer was clear.
It’s similar to trying to use a phrase to indicate that you’re smarter than somebody else (like if you were patronizing them). By using “but of course,” you’re showing that you and they should already be familiar with the context or answer you’ve provided.
Can you start a sentence with “But of course”?
You can start a sentence with “but of course.” Grammar rules allow us to start sentences with coordinating conjunctions like “but.” It’s a common myth that you’re not allowed to start a sentence with “but.”
You’ll find that you’ll start a sentence with “but of course” more often than you’ll use it in the middle. It works best when you’re conversing with somebody, as follows;
- I’ll take your finest wine, sir!
- But of course! I expect no less!
- Could you put it on my tab?
- But of course, anything for a loyal customer!
As you can see, these situations apply to conversations we might have with people we’re familiar with. Incidentally, neither of these cases of using “but of course” are meant in a cruel way. We’re simply saying that we know somebody so well; their previous statement was obvious.
Both of the above examples are grammatically correct, even though they both start the sentence with “but of course.”
Synonyms for “But of course”
If you’re not comfortable with what the phrase means or how it works, you might have more luck with one of the following alternatives:
- But as we know
- Needless to say
- Without doubt
All of the above words and phrases are great synonyms for “but of course.” The idea is that we’re saying something is obvious or clear from the previous clause or statement.
How is “But of course” different from “Of course”?
“But of course” is different from “of course” because it’s often ruder and implies something was obvious. “Of course” is used as more of a reassurance, to confirm that something is the case rather than insulting somebody for not knowing about it.
- Of course, it would help if we knew where we were.
- But of course, you’d be silly to not know where we are!
The above examples both follow a similar theme. However, “of course” is more reassuring, telling someone that something might “help” if they knew about it.
Using “but of course” is more aggressive. It shows that you’re not happy that somebody doesn’t know something, and you’re belittling their intelligence for that reason.
Should there be a comma in “But of course”?
There should be a comma before and after, “but of course.” If you use it at the start of a sentence, you should use a comma after the phrase.
The commas act as a way to include the phrase without taking away from the flow of the overall sentence. Theoretically, you could remove “but of course” from any sentence and it would still make sense.
- I don’t want that, but of course, that should be clear.
- I don’t want that. That should be clear.
We use the commas to combine two sentences together with “but of course” in the middle.
Why do people say “Why of course”?
“Why of course” is similar in meaning to “of course” but is most commonly used when responding to a request. We use “why of course” to show that something won’t be a problem for us to complete, even if it takes a little bit of time.
You might also like: “Of Course” – Easy Comma Guide + Examples (All Variations)