Friday, October 21, 2016

When to Use Imply and Infer

When to Use Imply and Infer

Many people are uncertain when to use the word imply and when to use infer. It's easy.

To imply is to insinuate or suggest that something is one way or another. It's not usually something people say out loud; to imply is to make a subtle reference and hope that the other person catches it. "Jennifer asked if I was going to eat all my french fries. Was she implying that I needed to lose weight?"

To infer is to deduce or conclude something by what somebody else said. Inferring is not something that we say out loud either; it's usually something that we think to ourselves. "Jennifer noticed that I didn't eat all my french fries. She inferred that I was trying to lose weight." Note that Jennifer did not ask her friend for clarification. She just drew her own conclusion based on the evidence.

In both instances, it's easy for people to be wrong. If we think that a person is implying something, we are making a guess, which could be incorrect. Ditto for inferring a comment. But these words are not used interchangeably, and they do not mean the same thing, so double check to make sure that you are using each one in the right context.



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