Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Liable" and "Likely"

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

Question: "Don't 'liable' and 'likely' mean the same thing?

Answer: Not exactly. They both mean "probable." However, "liable" is for an unpleasant probability and implies responsibility: "If he writes that, he is liable to be sued."

"Likely" means that something is simply probably going to happen: "I think we are likely to see the sun sometime today."

"Liable," therefore, has a negative connotation and implies both probability and responsibility. "Likely" is neutral.

Rating of distractibility: (**) People misuse these term often and often other people don't notice, especially in conversation. Of course, in writing, you want to be more precise. And "liable" has a very distinctive and special meaning. RayS.

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