Imply vs Infer : Stop Confusing These Two Words

Do you ever find yourself struggling to differentiate between “imply” and “infer”? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! These two words are often used interchangeably, causing confusion in both written and verbal communication. But fear not, because in this article we have got you covered the complete difference between both these terms.

When you imply something, you are suggesting it indirectly. When you infer something, you are arriving at a conclusion based on evidence.

Imply Vs Infer (Comparison Chart)

Imply refers to indirectly suggesting or hinting at a message, idea, or something without explicitly stating it.Infer refers to drawing a conclusion or understanding based on evidence or information provided.
The subject of “imply” is the person or entity making the statement.The subject of “infer” is the person or entity receiving or understanding a statement.
Implication requires no evidence as it is a suggestion or hint that is said.Inference requires evidence to draw a conclusion from the facts given.
“Imply” is used in active voice, indicating the perspective of the speaker who is conveying information or ideas.“Infer” is used in passive voice, indicating the perspective of the listener who is decoding and understanding the conveyed information or ideas.
The responsibility lies with the speaker, who chooses the words or hints to indirectly convey a message or idea.The responsibility lies with the listener, who analyzes the information and draws conclusions or meanings from it based on context and evidence.
When implying something, assumptions are often made about what the listener knows and understands.An inference is based on what the listener already knows and can deduce from new information.
For Example, If a teacher says “It would be wise to study for tomorrow’s test,” they are implying that it is important to prepare for the upcoming exam.For Example, If I say the sky looks grey, then you may infer that it might rain soon.

What Does Imply Mean?

When you imply something, you are suggesting it indirectly. You are not stating it outright, but you are hinting at it or making it clear through your words or actions. It is different from explicitly stating something. It means that you are providing an indication or hint of something without actually saying it.

For example, if you say “I’m thirsty” when someone offers you a drink, you are implying that you would like a drink. 

It is important to note that when you imply something, you are suggesting it to the person who is listening or observing.

What Does Infer Mean?

In contrast, inferring something means coming to a conclusion based on the evidence that is present. In other words, you are drawing a conclusion based on what you know. It requires using logical thinking and reasoning to deduce a conclusion.

Remember one thing that when you infer something, it is an educated guess that you are making and not a statement of fact.

For example, if your friend says they are tired, you might infer that they did not sleep well last night.

Examples of Imply and Infer

Examples of Infer:

  • For instance, if I say, “It’s raining outside,” and you respond by saying “I should grab an umbrella,” then you are inferring that it is likely going to be a wet day.
  • If your friend tells you they are feeling down and stressed out, then you may infer that they may need some comfort and support.
  • If I say the sky looks grey, then you may infer that it might rain soon.

Examples of Imply: 

  • If a teacher says “It would be wise to study for tomorrow’s test,” they are implying that it is important to prepare for the upcoming exam.
  • If someone says “I would prefer if you didn’t do that,” they are implying that they would rather have it done differently.

Infer Vs Imply: Using the Right Word Every Time

When it comes to writing, using the right word can make all the difference. When you’re trying to decide between imply and infer, however, it can be tricky to know which one to use.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two words:

Imply means to suggest or hint at something.

Infer means to deduce or conclude something.

So when you’re trying to decide which word to use, ask yourself whether you’re suggesting or hinting at something, or deducing or concluding something. If you’re suggesting or hinting, then you want to use imply. If you’re deducing or concluding, then you want to use infer.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. In some cases, either word could technically be used. But in general, if you remember this simple trick, you should be able to choose the right word every time.

Key Differences Between Imply and Infer

  • Understanding the Rule – Imply means to suggest or hint at something without explicitly saying it. On the other hand, infer means coming to a conclusion based on evidence.
  • The Direction of Language – To imply something usually requires an active voice with direct language, while inferring can be done passively and with indirect language.
  • Strength of Understanding – When someone implies something, it is usually more assumed than understood by the listener. On the other hand, when someone infers something, they are likely to have a stronger understanding of what was implied or suggested. 
  • Nature of Relationship – Implication often comes from authority figures such as teachers or parents and creates a sense of obligation in the listener. On the other hand, an inference can come from anyone and creates a sense of understanding between parties involved in communication.
  • Language Use – Implication typically requires a declarative sentence while inference requires more of an interrogative sentence.
comparison table comparing imply vs infer

Common Misconceptions About Imply and Infer

Here are the definitions for each word, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

Imply: to express or suggest (something) without saying it directly or to involve (something) as a necessary consequence 

Infer: to form an opinion or reach a conclusion by thinking about known facts or to draw a conclusion about something from the evidence that is not directly stated  

When it comes to imply and infer, there are a few common misconceptions. Here are a few of them:

  • Imply and infer have the same meaning.
  • Imply always takes an object, while infer doesn’t.
  • Infer can only be used when you’re drawing a conclusion from evidence.
  • If you’re not sure which word to use, go with infer.


Imply and infer are two words that are easily confused. We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between these two terms so that you can use them correctly in English language conversations and writing. Remember, implication is when something is suggested or implied by a statement, while inference is when someone draws their own conclusions based on evidence they have seen or heard. Keep these distinctions in mind to ensure proper usage of both words!

Basir Saboor

Basir Saboor is a dedicated writer with over 7 years of expertise in researching and disseminating information on technology, business, law, and politics. His passion lies in exploring the dynamic landscape of technology, tracking the latest trends, and delving into the intricacies of the ever-evolving business world. As a firm believer in the influential power of words, he crafts content that aims to inspire, inform, and influence.

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