The French sentence "Bien sûr" explained

You are in the right place to learn everything you want to know about the basic sentence “Bien sûr”.

It includes a detailed explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. And also the cool things we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

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French to English translation

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does bien sûr mean?


The literal meaning is:

  • Bien → Very
  • Sûr → Sure

Whenever you need to express “Of course” or “Certainly” in French, the best expression to use is “Bien sûr“. As you will see, many variations exist, but if you have only one to keep in mind, it’s: “Bien sûr“.

Depending on context, the translation can also be: “Sure” or “Yes indeed” or “How yes” or even “Sure I will“. In any case, this is a neutral register and so you can use it in any situation.

But now let’s deep dive into how you can use it!

How to use it

The simplest use is as an answer to a statement or question: for example someone asks you: “Pouvez-vous me donner votre ticket” (Can you pass me your ticket) you can say: “Bien sûr” (Sure / Of course).

If what you are going to answer is obvious, you can emphasize your response by saying “Bien sûr que oui” (Of course yes) or “Bien sûr que non” (Of course no). It implies that the question was a bit stupid / unnecessary, so be careful with this one.

Next, if you want to be more precise about what your “Of course” concerns, you can use the structure “Bien sûr que“. For example: “Bien sûr que je suis un homme” (Of course I’m a man). Once again be careful, this structure might be perceived as aggressive sometimes depending on context.

Now, if you want to be ironic, you can use it this way: “Je n’avais pas mon parapluie, et bien sûr, il s’est mis à pleuvoir !“. (I didn’t have my umbrella, and of course, it started to rain!)

Finally, you can also use it to enforce the link between two ideas, for example: “Aujourd’hui j’ai parlé à l’homme le plus rapide du monde, je parle bien sûr d’Usain Bolt.” (Today I spoke with the fastest man on earth, I’m talking of course about Usain Bolt).

Funny stuff

If you use the right tone, you can change its meaning to “Of course not” or “No way” or “Not even in your dreams“.

For example, if someone asks you if you can climb Mt Everest topless, you can say “Bien suuuuur” (Suuuuuure) while making enormous eyes to emphasize the craziness of the question to say “Of course not / No way“.

Be sure to use the right tone though, or you might end up in the next plane to Nepal…

Synonyms and similarities

  • Oui, bien sûr. (“Yes, of course“)
  • En effet. (“Indeed“)
  • Sûrement. (“Surely“)
  • Certes. (“Admittedly“)
  • Forcément. (“Inevitably“)
  • Assurément. (“Certainly“)
  • Bien entendu. (“Of course“)
  • Certainement. (“Certainly“)
  • Évidemment. (“Obviously“)
  • Naturellement. (“Naturally“)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
La check-list des vacances
The vacation checklist
Rémi:   Il est temps d’y aller.
It’s time to go.
Karine:   Oui, mais d’abord vérifions tout.
Yes, but first let’s check everything.
Rémi:   Karine, nous avons déjà tout vérifié mille fois.
Karine, we have already checked everything a thousand times.
Karine:   C’est important ! On part une semaine, alors on doit être sûr à 100%.
It’s important! We’re leaving for a week, so we have to be 100% sure.
Rémi:   D’accord…
Karine:   Tu as éteint l’électricité ?
Did you turn off the electricity?
Rémi:   Oui.
Karine:   Et le frigo ?
And the fridge?
Rémi:   Ouais.
Karine:   Ok… nous avons arrosé les plantes…
Ok… we watered the plants…
Rémi:   Oui.
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