These two words are actually quite different in their meanings and in the subject who commits the act itself. Yet despite their differences, they are regularly confused with one another. This is understandable, however. These words aren’t used too much in everyday conversation, and they are somewhat similar in their sound and function. They are both five letters, they both start with an “I,” and they both are verbs. So in today’s post I want to compare imply vs. infer, show you how they are different through examples, and give you a few ways to easily keep track of them for the future. After reading this post, you won’t ever confuse the two again.
The word imply originated from late Middle English: from Old French emplier, from Latin implicare, from in- ‘in’ + plicare ‘to fold’. The original sense was ‘entwine’; in the 16th and 17th centuries the word also meant ‘employ’. Compare with employ and implicate. The word infer originated in late 15th century (in the sense ‘bring about, inflict’): from Latin inferre ‘bring in, bring about’ (in medieval Latin ‘deduce’), from in- ‘into’ + ferre ‘bring’.
Imply as verb:
Infer as verb:
Imply or infer:
These two words can be used to describe the same event, but not the same action, so it’s important to use infer vs. imply carefully. Imply is to suggest something indirectly. Infer is to conclude something based on evidence or reasoning. Here are a few good ways to keep track of these two words. To imply something is similar to making an implicit statement, and both imply and implicit start with “im.” A reader is someone who infers, and both words have an “r” in them.