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Difference Between Imply and Infer

Imply vs Infer

The differences between the verbs “imply” and “infer” are so subtle. It comes as no surprise that many use the two words interchangeably when in reality it is not the case. Nevertheless, the best way to distinguish the two is by familiarizing the communication model that is composed of two personas, namely, the sender and the receiver.

In the communication model, it is the sender who sends the message to the receiver. The latter will be the one to reply to the message of the former by sending out his feedback. So the first point of comparison is who does the implication and who makes the inference. Well, the implication is made by the sender. This means that he is the one responsible for implying something. By contrast, it is the receiver of the message who makes the inference. As such, he is the one who makes an inference.

By definition, “infer” is a verb that means “concluding something based on premises or evidence.” By inferring, you also try to reason and surmise. In other words, it means that you deduce. So when the receiver infers, he guesses. But he uses evidence to make that guess. He also draws out a conclusion from something that has not been said explicitly. The only confusion may spring from other references’ secondary definition of “to infer” which is “to imply.” This may sound true, but in its most ordinary sense it isn’t. In most instances, it is the word “infer” that is usually wrongly used in the place of “imply.”

“Imply,” on the other hand, means “suggest indirectly.” Thus, the sender of the message is suggesting a thought or idea to the receiver without actually stating the said idea outright or word for word. An example of using “imply” is reflected in the sentence “When his girlfriend gave him a wristwatch on his birthday, she implied to him that he should never be late again for their dates.” On the other hand, “He inferred that he has been given a wristwatch to signify that he should not be late again for their dates.”


1.It is the sender of the message who implies.
2.It is the receiver of the message who infers.
3.“Infer” is deducing something from premises or evidence.
4.“Imply” is suggesting something in an indirect manner to the receiver without explicitly saying it.

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