‘Imply’ vs ‘Infer’: What’s the difference? These two words might appear to overlap, but in reality, their uses are very different. Knowing when each word should be used and what they truly mean will help make your writing more sophisticated and accurate.
In a rush? Here’s a short overview of what you’ll learn:
Given these two words appear similar, it’s not uncommon that they get mixed up. They’re both verbs that have to deal with processing information that might appear in the same context. However, despite all this, their meanings are quite different, and knowing their true meanings could mean the difference between making and not making sense.
So how do we tell the difference? One key tool is going to the timing of the release of information. ‘Imply’ deals with information on the spot, while ‘Infer’ deals with information after the fact.
Another key tool that will help is the concreteness of information, in essence, how much do we actually know.
When something is:
While these tricks will help get you started, learning the definitions and seeing these new words in action is what’s going to help us go the distance. So, let’s take a closer look at ‘Imply’ vs ‘Infer.’
According to Oxford Languages, ‘Imply’ is a verb that means:
The word ‘Imply’ comes from the Latin ‘implicare,’ which means “entwined,” which helps us see how when a message is implied, our awareness of it is entwined with the truth. In short, by making a statement that ‘implies’ something, we assume others see the connection we are suggesting.
The word ‘Infer’ comes from the Latin word ‘inferre,’ which means to “bring out” or “bring about,” which makes sense when we think about how inferring information is us using the facts we’ve been given to “bring about” a conclusion.
Writing and knowing definitions is only half the battle when it comes to learning new words — you have to learn how to say them properly as well. Especially with words like ‘Imply’ vs ‘Infer’, which can often appear in more formal contexts, it’s good to know you’re pronouncing them right in more serious conversations and presentations.
Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Imply’ as a guide:
Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Infer’ as a guide:
As mentioned above, these words often appear in a more formal or academic context. But what exactly does that look like? Seeing these words in action in sample settings where they might appear is a great way to learn the definitions and the difference between when it is proper to use these words. You can use these example sentences as a guide, then try writing out some of your own to get more practice.
Learning new words that appear similar but, in fact, are very different can be difficult at first, but as we investigate definitions and examples, things become much more clear. Remember that while context is always helpful, knowing the timing of words can also be very useful. If you know when a word would be used within the situation, it can help you put the proper word in its place.
Want a review? Here’s a quick recap of what was covered:
Mastering new words can be daunting when they are more frequently used in formal contexts, but learning words like ‘Imply’ vs ‘Infer’ can help make your writing and conversations more sophisticated. Be sure to investigate other confusing words to continue to expand your vocabulary and help build confidence in any writing situation.