This post will explain the difference between imply and infer. People often misuse them because they look and sound similar—but they actually have opposite meanings. Here’s a brief rundown of the difference between these two words and how they should be used.
Imply: to suggest or insinuate something not expressly stated
This word is used when a speaker may have another intended meaning. For example, someone could say, “He was involved in the past four business deals; the deals weren’t successful,” and could be implying that he was the reason the deals were unsuccessful. Implying is something a speaker does.
Infer: to deduce or conclude something based on evidence or context clues
This word is used when the listener is taking extra meaning from what someone else says. In the above example, the speaker is implying something, while any listeners could infer the speaker’s meaning. Inference is something a listener does.
So if we look at the earlier example, if someone said, “He was involved in the past four business deals; the deals weren’t successful,” the listener could infer that the speaker means the person being discussed isn’t the best at making business deals.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this clears up the confusion between imply vs. infer. We are, of course, not implying that you mix these words up a lot. But if you think that’s what I’m trying to say, well, that’s just inference on your part.
Till next time!