Expressing Probability

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Expressing probability or improbability

See the difference between probability and possibility.

There are many ways to say that something will probably or improbably happen.

Probability / improbability

may
might
can
could
… will probably
It’s probable
improbable
likely
unlikely
that …

 

 

I doubt
suppose
guess
… will…
‘d be surprised if….

 

Perhaps
May be
… will …

Examples of probability:

  • It is probable that my grandfather repairs my bike.
  • May be / perhaps the problem won’t be serious.
  • It will probably rain this evening.
  • I’m likely to do the work myself.

Examples of improbability:

  • No, probably not.
  • I don’t suppose my grandfather will repair the bike.
  • I doubt my father will buy me a new computer, either.
  • She is unlikely to return home early this evening.
  • I’d be surprised if he got the best score.
  • It’s unlikely he will find his lost keys.

Expressing probability in the past

may
might
can
could
have Past Participle

Examples of probability in the past:

  • He may have robbed your computer while you were out.
  • The criminal might have threatened That’s why, she was afraid of him.
  • The author might have carrieda deep research on the subject. That’s why his book is so interesting.

Examples of improbability in the past:

  • He may have not lived in this town. Nobody seems to know him.
  • She can’t have helped him in his crime as they have never met before.