Imply vs Infer
What is the difference between imply and infer? Have this question ever crossed your mind. There are pairs of words in English language that have similar meanings but their usage is quite different that is they are used in totally different contexts. However, people take such words pairs as interchangeable and use them incorrectly. One such pair of words is imply and infer where imply means to suggest or to mean something whereas infer means to deduce or arrive at a solution. However, people think that both are same and make errors that can cost dearly especially for students appearing in exams such as TOEFL. Here is a brief explanation of correct usage of both these words taking into account the difference between imply and infer.
What does Imply mean?
Imply is a verb. In a communication, it is only the speaker or sender of a message who can imply or mean something. If I use a phrase, statement or sentence to suggest something, I am implying. When an army General says that he does not rule out war as an option, he implies that his army can go to war and all options are open.
What does Infer mean?
Infer is also a verb. While in a communication, it is only the speaker or sender of a message who can imply or mean something, it is the receiver of the message or the listener in a situation of communication who can infer or deduce a meaning from what has been sent or spoken. Moreover, when I am using a phrase, statement or sentence to suggest something, all those around me infer depending upon what they get out of what I said.
What is the difference between Imply and Infer?
If a person is taking part in a discussion and says or presents his point of view, he is implying something. All others who listen to his opinion infer depending upon their interpretation of what he said. Thus, it is clear that those who infer draw a conclusion from what has been said, and those who say, imply.
• Both imply and infer are verbs.
• Imply and infer are a pair of words often confused by people.
• In the case of message, it is the sender who implies or suggests a meaning whereas it is the receiver who can infer or deduce a meaning.
• The best way to remember the difference between imply and infer is to see who the speaker is and who the listener is. If imply has been used in the context of the speaker, it means what he wants to suggest. On the other hand, if infer is used in the context of the listener, it means what he concludes from the statement.
If someone gets an idea from your behavior that you are a fool, he is inferring that you are a fool. However, if he lets you know that he thinks you are a fool, he is implying that you are a fool according to him.