Implying and inferring are effective communication techniques that allow us to make subtle inferences without directly expressing our opinion. Implication involves making assumptions about what someone may be thinking or feeling, while inference involves using context clues to interpret the implied message of a conversation or text.

The definition of implying and inferring

(Amy from Pixabay)

Picture of man and woman dining out. Woman looking at menu to order

When we imply something, we are saying it indirectly. For example, if I tell my friend, “I’m hungry,” I am implying that I would like to eat something. When we infer something, we are deducing it from evidence or clues. For example, if my friend is looking at a menu and says, “I’m starved,” I can infer that she would like to order food.

Examples of implying and inferring

Here are some examples of implying and inferring:

(TitusStaunton from Pixabay)

Picture of man looking at his wristwatch impatiently.

Example 1:
User A: I’m so thirsty.
User B: You should have gotten a drink before you left the house.

In this example, User B is implying that User A did not get a drink before they left the house. They are deducing this based on the evidence that User A is thirsty.

Example 2:
User A: I’m so thirsty.
User B: Did you get a drink before you left the house?

In this example, User B is asking if User A got a drink before they left the house. They are not implying anything; they are simply asking a question.


– Saying “I’m hungry” when it’s dinner time
– Asking “Are you sure you want to do that?” when you think the person shouldn’t do something
– Saying “That dress looks great on you” when you want the person to buy it


– Observing that someone is tapping their foot impatiently and inferring that they are annoyed or angry
– Hearing someone say, “I’m so tired” and inferring that they had a long day
– Saying “I noticed that you haven’t called me in a while” and inferring that they are busy

When to use implying and inferring

When you are speaking or writing, you may want to imply something without directly stating it. For example, if you wanted to hint to your boss that you deserve a raise, you might say, “I’ve been working hard and putting in extra hours.” By saying this, you are implying that you deserve a raise without directly asking for one.

Similarly, if someone asks you “Are you mad at me?” You might reply “I’m not happy with what happened” which implies that you are indeed mad at them without directly saying so.

In contrast, when you infer something, you are drawing a conclusion based on evidence or clues. For example, if your friend cancels lunch plans with you last minute and then posts photos of themselves at the beach on social media, you might infer that they were never intending to have lunch with you in the first place and only used you as a backup plan.

Another example of inferring would be if your boss tells you to “close the door on your way out.” You might infer from this that your boss wants some privacy or does not want anyone else to overhear the conversation he is about to have.

Generally speaking, when we imply something, we do so intentionally whereas when we infer something, we do so based on evidence or clues.

Why do people confuse infer and imply?

There are a few reasons why people might confuse imply and infer. For one, they are both words that have to do with drawing conclusions based on evidence. Additionally, they are both often used in similar contexts. However, the main difference between the two terms is that implying is done by the speaker, while inferring is done by the listener.

When you imply something, you are hinting at it or suggesting it indirectly. You are not directly stating what you mean, but you are giving enough information for someone to make a guess. For example, if I said, “I’m so thirsty, I could really use a drink,” I am implying that I would like someone to get me a drink of water.

In contrast, when you infer something, you are using the evidence at hand to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, you are making an educated guess based on what you know. In our earlier example, if the listener inferred that I wanted a drink of water based on my statement about being thirsty, then they were correctly inferring from the evidence.

What is the meaning of inferring in reading?

Inferring is the process of drawing conclusions based on evidence and information that is available. When readers infer, they use clues from the text to make assumptions about what is not explicitly stated. This is a higher-level thinking skill that allows readers to go beyond the literal meaning of the text and understand its deeper implications.

Implied meanings are those that are not directly stated but can be understood by looking at the text as a whole. In other words, when you imply something, you are hinting at it or suggesting it indirectly. To determine what is being implied, readers need to make inferences based on their prior knowledge and experience, as well as on the context of the text.

What are 4 types of inferences?

An inference is a conclusion that can be drawn from evidence and reasoning. There are four main types of inferences:

1. Inductive inferences are based on specific evidence and lead to a general conclusion. For example, if you observe that all of the birds in your backyard are sparrows, you can infer that all birds are sparrows.

2. Deductive inferences are based on generalities and lead to a specific conclusion. For example, if you know that all mammals are warm-blooded, you can infer that a specific mammal, like a bat, is also warm-blooded.

3. Abductive inferences are based on best guesses and often involve creative thinking. For example, detectives might use abductive reasoning to infer who committed a crime based on clues at the scene of the crime.

4. Analogical inferences are based on comparisons between two similar things. For example, you might use an analogy to explain how a pump works by comparing it to a heart (which pumps blood).

Are infer and imply synonyms?

When it comes to English grammar, there is often a lot of confusion surrounding similar words. Two words that are often mixed up are “infer” and “imply.” Even though these two words have similar meanings, they are not interchangeable. In order to avoid making this common mistake, it is important to understand the difference between these two words.

“Infer” vs. “Imply”

The main difference between “infer” and “imply” is that “infer” is always used when you are drawing a conclusion based on evidence, whereas “imply” only suggests something without any evidence to back it up.

For example, if you see a person walking down the street with a suitcase in hand, you can infer that they are going on a trip. There is evidence (the suitcase) to support your conclusion. On the other hand, if someone implies that they are going on a trip, they might just be suggesting it or hinting at it without any actual plans or proof.

Another way to remember the difference between these two words is that “infer” always requires some sort of evidence or supporting information, whereas “imply” does not.


Featured Image By – Sander Sammy on Unsplash

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