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Both "claro" (or "claro que sí") and "por supuesto" appear to be used to say 'of course' in one way or another.

Are there any differences in how they are used? Is one formal and the other informal? Or are they interchangeable?

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I think "Claro" is most used in Mexican, while "Por supuesto" is more commonly used in traditional Spanish. –  David Sun Aug 28 at 4:26
    
"Claro" is like "sure!", while "por supuesto" is more like "of course" –  Bardo Sep 4 at 12:42
    
Desde luego hay una diferencia. –  Michael Wolf Sep 4 at 18:58

6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Claro and por supuesto are synonyms, but por supuesto is a little more formal.

Imagine the Pope is at your home and asks for permission to use the bathroom. You would not say ¡claro!, you would say ¡por supuesto!

Por supuesto is “of course”. Claro could be translated as “sure”.

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As far as I know there is not much to say here. They mean exactly the same and are both interchangeable in both formal and informal situations.

As a side note, "claro" can also mean "clear" when used as an adjective, of course in a completely different context.

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Haha thanks for the quick response. Perhaps my question is really 'is there a difference...' not 'what is the difference...' –  stevvve Jun 14 '12 at 14:59

"por supuesto" could be more emphathised in some situations, but they are interchangeable 99% of times.

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They are interchangeable, however, there is always a small difference.

Claro:

"It's clear" (I understand)

Claro que si:

"Of course" (It's obvious, and I am very sure)

Not everyone is sensitive to these subtle differences, but it doesn't mean they are not there.

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'Claro' is used more in conversation, such as, when someone is telling you a story, the listener often peppers his responses with 'claro' and 'claro que si', in order to express the listener's affirmation and understanding of the story. But 'por su puesto' is used more in declaring something true or obvious, such as, "you are of course the idiot in this situation," or "this is of course the way of doing it."

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"Claro", in that context, is used as short of "Claro que si" (or even "Claro que no", depending on what's clear/obvious that is going to be your answer). 'Its clear that my answer would be "yes"'.

Apart from clarifying that, what you have already being told about both being synonyms and "por supuesto" being more formal is correct.

Also, although I don't know if it is offtopic to this question, "claro" could be used as a question ("Claro?", "Queda claro?") to make sure that what you just said is "crystal clear" to the listener.

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