The meaning of "sure" regionally
May 30, 2016 5:23 PM   Subscribe

What does "sure" mean in response to a question? Yes, No, or "uh, kinda maybe"?

This is similar to this one about the meaning of really

My partner and I discussed the meaning of "Sure" :

I maintain that "sure" confers acceptance, but with some reluctance, and so I often find it somewhat noncommittal and passive, e.g. "Do you want pizza tonight? Sure." is not the same as "Do you want pizza tonight? Yes."

In my mind, I hear "Sure, I suppose...if you insist, I guess I could, if that's really what you want.." vs "Yes, that sounds delicious to me, nothing would make me happier!"

Obviously body language and tone matter a lot, but I'm wondering about regional differences? I'm of the Male of the West Coast and she is a Female of the East and Mid West (USA).

Is "sure" universally less committal and enthusiastic than "yes"?
posted by soylent00FF00 to Human Relations (71 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
East coast USA female. "Sure" means the same as "yes" to me. It's a less formal way of saying it, like "nah" instead of "no." I think of it like "sure will!" Or "sure do!"

The Midwestern male of the household says it means either "yes" or "I don't care."
posted by kimberussell at 5:28 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


East Coast female here. It literally means "that's fine with me." If I say "sure" to pizza, it doesn't mean I'm fine with Indian instead. THERE BEST BE PIZZA, in other words.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:30 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


East coast, male. It means "yes," but the level of enthusiasm can vary based on inflection and context. I'd say "Sure" when I really mean "I reluctantly consent and promise not to complain; please do not inquire further."
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:31 PM on May 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


Universally? No, there's no universal. Has "sure" been used ever to indicate lukewarm agreement? Yes. I've read it that way in books, seen it that way in TV and Movies, and I'm pretty sure (ha) it's one of those words that allegedly carries a passive aggressive note in British English.

I myself, a middle-aged woman from Texas, have used it many times with Texan enthusiasm as well as GenX sarcasm. Probably in the same day. It depends on the inflection.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:32 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Depends on inflection, kind of like "yeah." It can span the gamut from "yes, absolutely" to "I don't believe a word you're saying."
posted by Thorzdad at 5:34 PM on May 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


In the South you will hear "sure don't" which means no. "Sure" by itself means yes or a grudging yes.
posted by travertina at 5:35 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I live in Florida. It depends completely on tone of voice, context, and body language. I don't think it's universally or even generally less committal than "yes" or "yeah."
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:37 PM on May 30, 2016


"Sure" sounds like enthusiastic acceptance of pizza to me (midwestern female). The midwest, at least the bit of it in southeastern Michigan where I grew up, is really, really informal. Saying "Yes" to pizza, to my ears, sounds kind of stilted and formal. Yes answers would include "sure," "ok," "you bet," "uh-huh," and "yeah." I've lived in different areas of the country and I think midwestern speech patterns (laconic, informal) can get misinterpreted as lack of interest.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:38 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


In my experience in NJ and PA, it's functionally equivalent to "yes" most of the time.

That said, it could be inflected to mean sarcasm or incredulity. But I don't think I would ever use it to convey specifically "okay, but reluctantly so."
posted by Stacey at 5:40 PM on May 30, 2016


East coast USA female. "Sure" means the same as "yes" to me

Likewise. I'm familiar with the shruggy sense of "Sure, I guess...." formation but my feeling of it is that it's just a more casual way to say yes.
posted by jessamyn at 5:41 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


west coast female. Definitely varies with inflection, but I think you'd have to convey a lot of enthusiasm with your tone and body language to make it come across as a wholehearted yes. To me the default of "sure" is more like "ok, I'll acquiesce to that since you suggested it. Whatever."
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:42 PM on May 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's a spectrum of the middle ground. Including everything except for absolute yes or no.
posted by Vaike at 5:43 PM on May 30, 2016


Born and raised in the Midwest; college and grad school in the pacific NW, 7 years in PA, and now I live in Alaska.

I use 'sure' to mean yes. To emphasize, maybe 'sure, that'd be great'. To be more equivocal, 'sure, I guess'. To make sure (!) someone means what they said, 'sure?' (Maybe with a quizzical eyebrow). To express skepticism, 'suuurrre' (ok, that doesn't look right, imagine a long drawn-out sure with a downward inflection at the end).

But in general, a cheerful 'sure' means yes.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:50 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


New England. My dad was up for anything. Out of the blue. No warning. He always said "sure".

Dad, wanna drive an hour to get fried clams? Sure!
Dad, wanna come for a ride to the beach? Sure!
Dad, wanna make a cake with me? Sure!
Dad, wanna come bail me out? Sure!

To me "sure" is yes in the sweetest and most enthusiastic way. Like anything you want to do with me is exactly what I want to do.
posted by ReluctantViking at 5:55 PM on May 30, 2016 [29 favorites]


Male, West Coast (WA, but from CA): it means "no contest", same as "that's fine." It's definitely not an enthusiastic agreement, but the suggestion is acceptable. That's sure (Mandarin 4th tone).

I also say that when someone's building up a multipart argument and I don't necessarily agree with the premise. It means "keep going, I'm going to accept this as true for a moment, but I reserve the right to come back to this." That's sure (Mandarin 3rd tone).
posted by ctmf at 5:57 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


East coast male. Sure means yes.
posted by fings at 6:00 PM on May 30, 2016


Female, West Coast (PNW). Depends on the tone. "Sure!" means yes (can be emphasized with "Yeah, sure!"), while "Sure..." means I guess that's okay, if we don't think of anything better...
posted by lovecrafty at 6:03 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


The word by itself just means "yes". Additional meaning comes from intonation and context.

It's a lot like "meow"; varying degrees of enthusiasm come from speed, volume, and pitch change. It's different from "meow" in that cats don't usually use sarcasm (although it might be possible).
posted by amtho at 6:05 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


The answers you provide, are they good?

Sure.

I'm really enjoying this: so far there seems like a definitely East coast / West coast split, with the East leaning towards "sure" meaning "neutral through yes" but with a much higher "yes" meaning, while the West coast folks are emphasizing the "Meh" aspect of "sure" which is what I presumed, but maybe this is confirmation bias?

Keep it coming: more data!
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:07 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


If it's said neutrally (or written), I assume it means you're fine with the idea but don't really care. Or that you're being passive-aggressive. But it could mean absolutely anything depending on intonation. (New Orleans, raised female.)
posted by sleepingcbw at 6:11 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


More data for you. I'm in Chicago.

I contend that "sure" alone communicates nothing. The intonation carries the meaning. For example, "Suuuuure," said sarcastically. There's also "sure," a quick affirmative to a simple question like "Can you pass me the butter?" Then there's the "...sure" which expresses doubt or lack of understanding, often said in an office culture context.
posted by deathpanels at 6:14 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I use "sure" in response to "thank you" for a very small issue. I usually tack on "no worries," for larger things.

16 years in the midwest, 2 years in England, 1 year in upstate New York, 12 years in Massachusetts, 13 years in the CA Bay Area and 1.5 years in Portland, OR. I think most of my speech patterns come from my last 5-10 years on the west coast.
posted by bendy at 6:19 PM on May 30, 2016


East Coast, DC/NYC. The "sure" spectrum for me runs from "I wouldn't have thought of it, but I'm into it" to "absolutely yes." I don't think I've ever used it in a begrudging way. I would use "sure, I guess" that way but never just "sure."
posted by babelfish at 6:20 PM on May 30, 2016


Transplanted West Coast native: I actually tend to use "sure" to denote a yes that's slightly more enthusiastic than just a "yeah" would be (the "!" is implied, I guess?), but now I wonder if I've inadvertently been coming off as very apathetic.
posted by eponym at 6:21 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Unbound from context, to me the word "sure" is pretty unquestionably affirmative. However, I would say the pragmatics of this word are particularly fluid-- if someone's searching for a sarcastic or hostile faux-yes, in my community of speakers they're a lot more likely to go with "sure" than "yes".
posted by threeants at 6:21 PM on May 30, 2016


it's one of those words that allegedly carries a passive aggressive note in British English.

On its own, without heavy weight, "sure" is more often "yeah, that works". However, in that British way whereby repetition is not actually an intensifier, "sure sure" tends to mean going along with something out of obligation or because you can't think of anything better (even though you're sure there's a better option).
posted by holgate at 6:25 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


East Coast (but Australia). It means unreserved enthusiasm to me.
posted by b33j at 6:26 PM on May 30, 2016


I've lived a lot of places in the US between 30 and 35 degrees north, but mostly in the West. In a "do you want pizza" situation "sure" means as West coasters have said "no contest" "that's fine" "acceptable, open to other suggestions". It doesn't mean "meh" or "not really", it's not a passive-aggressive negative. It does usually mean "I don't care to debate it and don't ask me about 5 other alternatives". Even so, if you say "sure" the other person is going to ask "did you want something else instead?" And you will answer "No, that's fine". It's positive but never "fuck yeah I want pizza!"

In a work "can you do this by Friday?" situation it means "no problem" and is usually paired as so.
posted by bongo_x at 6:28 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


West Coast Canada Male

"Yes but I don't really care one way or another. "
posted by wats at 6:31 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I contend that "sure" alone communicates nothing. The intonation carries the meaning. For example, "Suuuuure," said sarcastically. There's also "sure," a quick affirmative to a simple question like "Can you pass me the butter?" Then there's the "...sure" which expresses doubt or lack of understanding, often said in an office culture context.

Also in the Chicago area. This is how I see it too.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:41 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


The longer the "sure" is drawn out, the less it means "yes".
posted by Automocar at 6:51 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Midwest, and specifically Madison for over a decade now. "Sure" is agreement, neutral ("I seriously don't care, please let this conversation be over now.") to enthusiastic ("Pizza would be awesome!"). There's nothing inherently grudging about it. That's its buddy "Sure, I guess." I assume that people who interpret "sure" to be shorthand for "sure, I guess" spend far too much time in passive-aggressive environments and I'd make an effort not to say it around them because there's nothing worse than trying increasingly hard to convince someone who's increasingly suspicious that you do actually mean what you say.
posted by teremala at 6:59 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Northern California: It depends on the enthusiasm with which it's said, but I take it to mean "I'm not opposed, but I haven't and may not ever put in enough effort to decide for sure." So, it's a "yes" with an opt-out.

However, I do two things: 1) Take it as a "yes," always. Face-value should always be safe; 2) Find out if it really means they want some things to be decided conversationally.
posted by rhizome at 7:10 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Sure thing, buddy" always means no.
posted by ctmf at 7:10 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Toronto Canadian (I'm not sure what you call that, it's not east or west coast, nor is it particularly central). Sure means yes. OK SURE you could use it to mean a spectrum from enthusiastic agreement to just not wanting to argue, but thats true of any word you could use in its place. "Sure" does come across as less formal than "yes" though, so maybe thats why it seems more prone to this kind of bending. But I'd say I've heard "ok" said resignedly a lot more than "sure".
posted by rodlymight at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2016


Where "sure" falls in my hierarchy of enthusiasm for your suggestion:

Meh. (not really, but I would for you without being mad)
Whatev. (that idea's not doing it for me, but I don't have a better one)
Ok/That's fine
Sure (I could be perfectly happy with that)
Sounds good! (I'm glad you suggested that)
Hell yeah, [suggestion]!
posted by ctmf at 7:28 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


West coast. I think "sure" sounds positive, like "sounds good". But when my husband says "I suppose" in a droopy voice, I hear a negative that sounds like "If you are hellbent on doing this to me, then I will roll with it and not fight you, but I won't enjoy it." He claims it counts as a positive answer, but he certainly seems less than lukewarm when he deploys this phrase.
posted by puddledork at 7:31 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I remember the first time I knew someone who said "sure" as yes. They were from PA and it took a little getting used to. For them it meant "yes" and for me (west coast) it sounded like "yes, maybe, I guess"
posted by aniola at 7:32 PM on May 30, 2016


West coast Canada, but grew up in the UK. It's hugely tone of voice dependent. In text form, I roughly interpret:

Sure! = enthusiastic agreement
Sure = unenthusiastic agreement
Sure. = begrudging agreement

I don't even know if the second two are accurate, but I have a hell of a time interpreting them as anything else and will often seek clarification.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:33 PM on May 30, 2016


West coast female here. Sure is more "meh" than "yes" unless accompanied by extra words such as "yeah," or "absolutely" and an emphasis on a positive tone, in which case it means yes.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:34 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


They would draw it out, yet it distinctively meant "yes"
posted by aniola at 7:35 PM on May 30, 2016


LA, CA. Differs wildly based on delivery but I'm used to encountering it in spoken as a dismissal. Like, if someone says, "Sure" to acknowledge your part in a discussion, it almost certainly means, "You are completely wrong, ignorant, and full of shit, but I'm not going to waste time fighting you." If someone says, "Sure!" to agree with plans, that's probably earnest, though.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:41 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


West coast female. It totally depends on how it's said. "…sure." is different from "Sure!"
posted by Lexica at 7:42 PM on May 30, 2016


This is fascinating!

Philly native here. "Sure" ranges from meaning "yes" (maybe a bit of a laid-back "yes"? but definitely "yes") to an enthusiastic affirmative.
posted by bearette at 7:42 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Uh, sure = yeah, I guess
Yeah, sure = yeah, whatever
Sure do = enthusiastic yes

37 years in RI, but I think the last one comes from spending summers in the Southern US, because I pronounce that differently, more like shore.
posted by Ruki at 8:24 PM on May 30, 2016


West coast female. Generally means "meh" but inflection can change the meaning dramatically, as many report above.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:10 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


My East Coast mother raised me to hear "sure" as an acquiescence, even if it is enthusiastic. It implies you are going along with what the other person wants. Therefore, in my house growing up, using "sure" to accept an offer was rude. My dad, also from the east coast (but a first generation American) thinks of "sure" as "yes." Variations of this conversation happened all the time at home:
Mom: Do you want a glass of water?
Dad: Sure.
Mom: Say yes please or no thank you! Don't act like you are doing me a favor letting me get you water.
posted by alligatorpear at 9:30 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yikes.

I'm pretty sure it's usually "Meh," unless enthusiasm is unmistakable. I also think it's rude in most contexts, a way to subtly let someone know you don't hold much respect for them.
posted by jbenben at 9:51 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


West coast, read female - I think Sure is one of those words that is heavily influenced by the context.

"Sure, I can totally do that!"
"Sure, that sounds okay, maybe we'll get around to it."
"Sure, but have you considered this?"

Saying sure as a single word sentence is going to rile up some real anxiety! In response to a question, unless it is like OMG SUUUURE!! that sounds great! it's usually like, "oh okay, yeah, that sounds good." Which can also be chill in itself, if you know your friends/partner as a chill person.
posted by yueliang at 10:39 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think "sure" has the added nuance of, "The thought hadn't entered my mind until you brought it up just now, but ok!"

As opposed to an outright "yes," which is what I would say if I'd been thinking the exact same thing. Like, "Want to get some pizza?" "Yes, you read my mind!" vs "Sure, sounds good!"

In general, sure = yes, but it depends highly on context and tone (Canada, west coast).
posted by paperback version at 12:09 AM on May 31, 2016 [7 favorites]


British person's perspective (Southern England): Sure is only used to express scepticism like "Suuuuuure you did" or when doing a corny US accent like "Sure thang, buckaroo!". I would not use it as an affirmative and certainly not an enthusiastic one. This has caused problems with partners whose English was non-native and US-inflected. I.e I thought they were blowing me off.
posted by mymbleth at 12:14 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Another British person's perspective (albeit one living on the West Coast), "sure" = apathetic yes. As in "I'd prefer Thai, but I know you don't like Thai that much, so as long as you don't get us a pizza with pepperoni on it, because you know I hate pepperoni, then we're good. Really, we're good. I'm okay with pizza. Not ecstatic about pizza, but I'm still gonna eat it and enjoy it! But we're getting Thai takeout next time, right?
posted by finding.perdita at 12:43 AM on May 31, 2016


Rarely would I use "sure" as an enthusiastic affirmative unless I followed it up with, "That sounds great!"

I often use it in paperback version's sense of, "The thought hadn't entered my mind until you brought it up just now, but ok!" Otherwise I'd say, "Yes!" if I'd been thinking along the same lines already.

Usually when I say "sure," it is a neutral yes. Sometimes it means "I'm okay with that and don't need a discussion about further options."

Female, West Coast (Canada).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:58 AM on May 31, 2016


Midwest female:

Agree that context is required to accurately interpret on a per-person basis but overall it means "yes."

When spoken, I use it most to if it's said with a big smile combined with a nod or several quick nods, and raised eyebrows, it is a very enthusiastic "YES!" and is shorthand for "I SURE DO!!"

When written, I always follow with an exclamation point and sometimes a smiley emoji or :-) to make sure readers get that it's a positive affirmation. I hardly ever use "Sure" in written context to mean non-yes because there is no way to ensure the right interpretation.

When spoken, and I mean to convey sarcasm or otherwise the opposite of the usual positive, I add a big eye-roll and faux-incredulous expression and head-jiggles to make the sarcasm very obvious.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:09 AM on May 31, 2016


Northeast US: "sure" is a stronger yes than "yeah" and possibly "yes", which to my ear sounds a little testy in this context.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:18 AM on May 31, 2016


Also what alligatorpear said. In retrospect I can see myself using "sure" to respond in a way that is more about saying "I agree with your decision and my response indicates agreement without expressing an actual preference in either direction."

Whew. That's pretty passive-aggressive and until reading all this, I honestly did not realize I was doing it. The More You Know.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:18 AM on May 31, 2016


This is such an interesting thread. I'm female in Minnesota.

I kind of despise "sure" because I too hear an unenthusiastic "that's fine, I guess, whatever" undertone whenever it's used, and whenever I say it, I often hasten to soften it with "sounds good" or similar. I have an (also Midwestern) friend who uses it in a rather flat tone a LOT, both in response to "should we get pizza"-type questions but also as a "go on, I'm listening" device in, and ugh, it always comes across as really dismissive and uninterested in the conversation.

On the other hand, "Sure!" where the exclamation point at the end is clearly inflected says to me, "Wow, that idea had not occurred to me, but what an unexpected and delightful one it is! I'm IN!"

I had no idea I had so many Feelings about "sure" until just now.
posted by anderjen at 5:43 AM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


East coast female raised by a Brit and a New Yorker. I have a terrible time deciding what to do/eat and generally say sure to anything I don't hate the idea of because it could take me HOURS to choose something. Please choose something for me. But if you suggest a thing that I am excited about I will say yes! Perfect! Yes please! At work, though, my sure means no problem! Happy to! No skin off my nose! Happy to help!

Unsure if this helps, but then again, I'm unsure about sure.
posted by pammeke at 6:05 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


my data point: "sure" means "okay" (with everything 'okay' implies). Ontario, Canada.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2016


Is "sure" universally less committal and enthusiastic than "yes"?

Texas here, and for me, using "Sure" (as a single-word answer) means that I am just as committed but less enthusiastic than if I had said "Yes" (as a single-word answer). "Sure" sounds like there is implied "but" about something that differentiates it from "Yes" to me.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:17 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


East Coast female.

In the case of
"Do you want pizza tonight?"
"Sure."

This "sure" probably means, "I hadn't thought of what I wanted for dinner, and pizza is certainly an acceptable option. I will eat pizza tonight, happily." It could also mean, "I was thinking Mexican food, but it sounds like you prefer pizza. I like pizza so that is also acceptable to me. I'll have Mexican for lunch tomorrow." It's neutral acceptance, not enthusiastic, not disdainful.

It's easier to tell when speaking with someone, especially face-to-face, but written with a neutral punctuation (period or comma or none), it's harder to parse.

Or what 23skiddo said!
posted by serenity_now at 9:50 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


East coast US male.

"Sure" means "yes," and can be anywhere from neutral-yes to enthusiastic-yes. There are circumstances where it means unenthusiastic-yes, but these are typically easy to spot based on context and/or tone.

"OK" is sort of the negative twin of "sure," in that its meaning shades from neutral-yes to what Faint of Butt called "I reluctantly consent and promise not to complain; please do not inquire further."
posted by breakin' the law at 1:35 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


East coast male. I use sure when asked a question for which the other person has created the majority of the context/premise. To me it implies consenting without feeling the need to modify the terms of the question.

A text message from someone I know, asking me if I want to do something, and I'm fine with it, would get a sure. If I'm more collaborative or present in the discussion, I'll use more engaging language. If they want to get a burger and I want pizza, I'd use other words to explain the change to the premise.
posted by jynn at 2:11 PM on May 31, 2016


Well, my (west coast) husband and I (east coast/midwest) just discovered that this pattern holds for us as well, and has led to many a confused upset because we were unaware of the different meanings. Neat.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 6:34 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have strong memories of being corrected by a British person when I was a teenage (I'm an American).

Man: Would you like some lamb?
Me: Sure.
British woman: You mean, 'yes.' She means, 'yes.'

Puzzled me thinking, 'of course I meant yes. I said sure.' It took me years to understand that conversation.
posted by oryelle at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Man: Would you like some lamb?
Me: Sure.
British woman: You mean, 'yes.' She means, 'yes.'


Yeah, that would come across as really rude to me. "Sure" is far too casual for people you don't know well, and that sounds like "whatever, I just don't want to tell you your lamb isn't very good".
posted by bongo_x at 7:44 PM on May 31, 2016


Midwest US native... I agree with paperback version that there can be an aspect of agreeing to an unexpected request. Like if you're hanging out with a friend in the summer and they ask if you want to get ice cream, "Sure!" means, "hell, I hadn't thought of that, but yeah!"

There's also "Sure!" that's off-hand and conveys that yes you'll do it and it's no big deal, something you do without a second thought. Like if your mom asks you to go down to the freezer and get a new loaf of bread.

Besides those specific examples, I would agree with the consensus that it's typically a less enthusiastic alternative to yes.
posted by switcheroo at 9:26 PM on May 31, 2016


British person here, and for us "Sure" is American slang. I suspect the person above who was correcting bongo_x meant to correct the use of slang rather than the apparent lack of enthusiasm. Slangy talking is a class marker over here, so a lot of adults will be careful to teach kids to speak "properly".

For me, I'd hear the word as conveying lack of strong feelings either way, like it clearly doesn't mean "this is the best idea ever!" but I wouldn't expect it to mean "if we MUST" either. Just like "OK" or "fine" or any other boring monosyllabic affirmation.
posted by emilyw at 6:19 AM on June 1, 2016


Midwest white male here. When I first started my job, "sure" seemed a little sarcastic to me in chat or emails. But my Indian colleagues use it to mean "yes" with no passive-aggressiveness implied. Unless 50+ people are being rude to me.
posted by AFABulous at 1:51 PM on June 1, 2016


West coast, born n raised (n most of my life since)

A couple years ago someone told me that "Sure" doesn't mean "yes", it means "eh, I guess so," and the realization made so much sense to me.

Since then, I consider "Sure" to be lukewarm acceptance and have tried to remove it from my vocabulary (unless I really feel lukewarm, but even then I don't expect the other person to pick up on the nuance of my reply). If someone replies to me with "sure" and doesn't have obvious enthusiasm (exclamation points or tone of voice), I'll keep asking questions until one of us is enthusiastic.

I'm especially aware of people saying "sure" when agreeing to do favors, and I definitely use it when agreeing to do something that I don't particularly want to do.
posted by itesser at 4:44 PM on June 1, 2016


British person here, and for us "Sure" is American slang. I suspect the person above who was correcting bongo_x meant to correct the use of slang

Wow, interesting. I'm a (U.S.) West Coast-native male, and if someone "corrected" me for replying in that manner, I would find it rude as fucking hell. As expressed above, what matters here is the intonation (agreeable) and body language (open), not the word itself.
posted by psoas at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2016


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