Expressing probability

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Here are some ideas and expressions to express different degrees of probability in English

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Expressing probability

  1. 1. Expressing PROBABILITY José Antonio Alcalde When talking about the future we can express different things with different degrees of probability. Look at the following sequence from something impossible to something certain: IMPOSSIBILITY > IMPROBABILITY > PROBABILITY > POSSIBILITY > CERTAINTY We can express these degress with the help of modal verbs, adverbs and some typical expressions. IMPOSSIBILITY: We are sure that something is not going to happen. • • • • Subject + WON'T + verb (base form) Subject + WON'T BE ABLE TO + verb (base form) [CAN has no future form] It is impossible (that)... There is no chance... IMPROBABILITY: We think something is improbable to happen. • • • • • • It is not probable (that) … = It is improbable (that) … It is unlikely (that)... It is very doubtful (that)... You can't tell for sure... I doubt (that)... = It is doubtful (that)... I don't think... PROBABILITY: Now there is a probability that something happens. • • • • • • • Subject + MAY + verb (base form) Subject + MIGHT + verb (base form) [weaker possibility than MAY] Subject + COULD + verb (base form) I believe... It looks as if... There is a little chance... Presumably POSSIBILITY: Here we can express that something is possible if some circunstances occur. • • • • • • • • • Conditional senteces type 1 Subject + CAN + verb (base form) Maybe.... = Perhaps... It is possible (that)... Possibly... = Apparently... I suppose... = I guess... (informal and typical in conversations) There is a chance... = There is good chance... There is possibility (that)... It is more than likely (that)... CERTAINTY: Now we are sure that something is going to happen. • Surely... = It is for sure (that)... • I am absolutely sure (that)... = I am certain (that)... = I am positive... • Definitely... = Certainly... = Clearly... = Of course... = No doubt.... = Undeniably.... = Absolutely...

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