What are you implying (or inferring)?

Reading time:
infer vs imply

The words imply and infer both concern information that is suggested, but not explicitly communicated.

When you imply, you hint at something without directly stating it.  You can imply something when you are speaking, writing, or relaying information in another fashion.   To imply is to suggest something without stating it outright.

When you infer, you pick up on a hint, or what you imagine to be a hint (it is possible to infer something that was not implied).  You can infer something from information someone else has communicated.    To infer is to read between the lines, so to speak.

Here are some sentence examples for this tricky pair of words:


“The apples trees are beautiful, but their fruit isn’t exactly tasty,” said Tim.
“Are you implying that my apple pie will be less-than-delicious?”  asked Terri.
“Are you implying that we shouldn’t bother picking apples this weekend?” asked Sally.
“I’m just saying I don’t like Granny Smiths,” said Tim.


Tim said, “I’m not a fan of music.”
Sally inferred that she shouldn’t buy Tim a record for his birthday.
Terri inferred that Tim is a snobby bore.

When you IMply, you are sending information.  Remember that imply begins with I M, as in I’M SPEAKING.  When I state that Ruby Receptionists is more than an answering service, I’m implying that our service exceeds expectations.

When you INfer, you are receiving information, and finding meaning IN what someone else has relayed.  After perusing Ruby’s website, you’ll likely infer that our virtual receptionist service is an ideal fit for your business.

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