Imply vs Infer: What’s the Difference?

Imply vs. infer? These are commonly confused words, often used interchangeably, but in reality, they mean two different things. The word “imply” means to suggest without explicitly saying it. On the other hand, infer means making an educated guess

In this article, you will find out more about “imply” and “infer” and what is the correct word to use, as well as a couple of examples of how you can use them in everyday speech and professional and academic writing. 

What Is Imply?

Imply means to suggest or hint at something without explicitly stating it. In other words, when you imply something, you allow the listener or reader to conclude based on what you said.

Here’s an example sentence: If you say, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” you’re not saying you’re going to eat a horse. You’re just suggesting that you’re starving. In essence, you are conveying an indirect message. 

Examples of Imply

  • The careful writer implies that the main character will die at the book’s end.
  • I didn’t mean to imply that you were lazy.
  • The way Sarah speaks to me implies that she is disappointed in me.
  • The remarks of the employee implied that he wasn’t telling the whole truth.
  • His body language implies that he does not know the answer.


  • Hint
  • Signify
  • Entail
  • Suggest

What Is Infer?

Infer is a verb that means to conclude or deduce from evidence or circumstances. When you “infer” something, you’re using the information to guess something else. 

If you see a customer in a store looking at a map that needs clarification, you might infer that they are lost. Or, if your friend says she’s going to the beach for vacation, you might “infer” that she’s going to relax and enjoy the sun. 

In many cases, when you infer something, you are using inductive reasoning. This is when you move from specific observations to a general conclusion. In other words, you are taking what you know and using it to guess what you don’t know. 

Fun Fact: Infer came from the Latin word inferre

Examples of Infer

  • From the data, you can infer that the company is doing well.
  • I inferred from her tone that she was angry with me.
  • You should infer a little from his comments.
  • Based on your level of training, you can infer the position you will finish in the competition.
  • By checking the speedometer, you can infer the speed at which he was cruising.


  • Surmise
  • Assume
  • Construe
  • Ascertain

What’s the Difference Between Imply and Infer

photo showing the definition of imply and infer

Though “imply” vs. “infer” may seem like similar words, there is a big difference between them. To avoid confusion, let’s take a closer look at their definitions and examples of how they’re used in sentences.

When you “imply” something, you are hinting or suggesting but without directly saying it. For instance, if you tell your friend that you’re “not feeling well” and then cancel your plans, you are implying that you don’t want to see them. 

Inferring occurs when you take information that is not directly stated and come to a conclusion about what it means. For instance, if your friend cancels plans with you and says they’re “not feeling well,” you might infer that they don’t want to see you. 

As you can see from these instances, when you imply something, the person receiving the information can usually guess what you mean. When you infer something, however, the person receiving the information might be unable to figure it out. In some cases, it can result in negative implications. 

Trick to Remembering the Difference

Remember that “inferring” requires you to use information to come to a conclusion. Another trick is to think of the letter “e” as “evidence.” So, when you can conclude based on the evidence, you can “infer.”

If you need more help, remember that there are a lot of synonyms in the English language that you can use. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to imply vs. infer, there is a clear distinction. To “imply” something is to suggest it or hint at it indirectly. To “infer” something is to arrive at a conclusion based on evidence or reasoning. In other words, when you imply something, it’s not a direct statement. 

When you “infer” something, you’re saying it directly due to your observations. So, when trying to understand whether someone implied or inferred something, ask yourself if they were being direct or indirect.

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