Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Imply" and "Infer"

Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question: What's the difference between "Imply" and "Infer"?

Answer: "I 'imply' that you are guilty" means I have not said so directly but that is my meaning. You "infer" from my remarks that you think I am guilty. You have not said so directly, but I think that is what you are suggesting. Both words mean "suggest indirectly." The speaker "implies." The listener "infers." The writer "implies." The reader "infers."

Some pretty well educated people confuse these two words.

Rating of Distractibility: (***). The confusion between these two words is another of the "scratching-nails-on-the-blackboard" mistakes. If you don't get these two words right, many an amateur language critic will be on your case.

By the way, I saw "can't help but" in a column by a respected columnist in the West Chester, PA., Daily Local News for Monday, June 23, 2008, p. A3. Tsk! RayS.

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