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Difference Between Hypothesis and Prediction

Hypothesis vs Prediction

If you have every studied science in English, you will probably know the words “hypothesis” and “prediction.” Many people think that these two words mean the same thing. However, they actually have some small but important differences. The following article will define “hypothesis” and “prediction” and use some examples to help you understand how they are different and how to use them in your daily life.

A “hypothesis” (pronounced /haɪˈpɑːθəsɪs/) is “an idea or explanation of something that is based on a few known facts but that has not yet been proved to be true or correct” (countable noun). A synonym for this meaning of “hypothesis” is “theory.” You can “formulate/make a hypothesis,” “confirm a hypothesis,” “[have] a hypothesis about [something],” and “support a hypothesis.”

In a science experiment, for example, you may know a few facts already, like how baking soda and vinegar react when put together. Based on the facts you know, you can make a hypothesis about the result of the experiment. Then you do the experiment to try and confirm your hypothesis.

A second definition of “hypothesis” is “guesses and ideas that are not based on certain knowledge” (uncountable noun). In this sense, “hypothesis” means the same thing as “speculation.” For example, someone has been murdered but you do not know anything about the case: you might “engage in hypothesis” or “speculate” by guessing what might have happened, even though you know no details.

The plural of “hypothesis” is “hypotheses” (/haɪˈpɑːθəsiːz/).

A “prediction” (pronounced /prɪˈdɪkʃn/) is “a statement that says what you think will happen; the act of making such a statement” (countable and uncountable noun). Use this word in collocations such as: “[to make] a prediction,” “[somebody’s] prediction,” and “[to confirm] a prediction.”

Predictions are often used to discuss trends or patterns. For example, economists that study the stock market can make a prediction, based on current trends and past evidence, that a company’s stock will rise or fall.

Use both “hypothesis” and “prediction” to talk about future events that have not yet happened. But a hypothesis is often someone’s opinion. This opinion is often based only on partial evidence rather than a complete set of facts. You can also test a hypothesis. A hypothesis must include a “because.” A sample hypothesis could be written, “[This] will happen in the experiment, because of [these things] that I already know.” To use a more concrete example, you could hypothesize that “Baking soda and vinegar will cause the model volcano to erupt because these two compounds react very strongly when combined.”

Unlike a hypothesis, a prediction is based on reason and uses logic to think about what might happen in the future. Predictions are formed from past and present patterns and observations. A prediction statement may say, “[This] will happen because of [these things] that usually lead to [this result].” In a more concrete way, you could predict that “There will be a rainbow because it is raining and the sun is shining at the same time.”

A hypothesis can be correct or incorrect. That is, in science you could make a hypothesis but have it proven wrong. It still remains a hypothesis. A prediction, on the other hand, must be correct for it to remain a prediction. A correct hypothesis could also be called a prediction. Another way to think about these two concepts is thinking about a prediction as a guess, and a hypothesis as an explanation.

As you can see, there are quite a few ways of thinking about hypotheses and predictions. Hypotheses are most often used only in science. Predictions are usually used outside of science. A hypothesis can also be called an “educated guess.” A prediction can also be called a “forecast,” like with weather: Weathermen make predictions about tomorrow’s weather based on current weather patterns in a specific region.

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