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Most commentators consider the adverb sure to be something less than completely standard; surely is usually recommended as a substitute. Our current evidence shows, however, that sure and surely have become differentiated in use. Sure is used in much more informal contexts than surely. It is used as a simple intensive
and, because it connotes strong affirmation, it is used when the speaker or writer expects to be agreed with.
Surely, like sure, is used as a simple intensive
but it occurs in more formal contexts than sure. Unlike sure it may be used neutrally—the reader or hearer may or may not agree
and it is often used when the writer is trying to persuade.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surely.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.