Imply vs. infer

imply vs infer

It’s easy to understand why people get imply and infer confused. Their meanings are related and similar. In this post, I will explain what these two words mean and show you how you can remember the difference between the two.

imply: to suggest or express something in an indirect way

For example, if you are talking to your friend, and you notice their breath reeks of garlic and onions, you may pull out a tin of mints and say “Want one?” as a way of expressing to them indirectly that their breath stinks. In this case, you are implying they have smelly breath.

infer: to conclude, especially from an indirect suggestion

For example, if you just ate garlic and onions for lunch, and your friend asks you if you want a mint, you could infer from their indirect suggestion that you have smelly breath.

Memory aid
When you infer, you are taking in information to analyze in order to come to a conclusion.

So taking in information = infer since they both use in.

You can just remember that imply means the opposite.

With imply, you are putting out suggestions.

With infer, you are taking in information.

Quiz:
Choose either imply or infer for the spaces below.

  1. Trixie yawned and yawned in order to _____ to her guests that it was late and she wanted them to leave.
  2. Trixie looked at her failing quiz grades and _____ed she needed to study really hard for the final.
  3. Trixie stopped answering Brad’s texts, trying to _____ that she didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
  4. Brad gave Trixie flowers and asked what she was doing Friday night, _____ing he wanted to go on a date with her.
  5. When her aunt asked whether she ever wanted kids, Trixie burst out laughing. Her aunt _____ed her answer was no.

1) imply; 2) inferred; 3) imply 4) implying; 5) inferred

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company helping women reach their publishing goals. To see whether her services are right for you, and to schedule your free five-page sample edit or thirty-minute coaching consultation, email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

 You can also read her blog about writing here: Dot and Dash blog

 Follow Erin on social media:

Twitter: @GrammarParty
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I.E. vs. E.G.

i.e. versus e.g.

I.e. and e.g. are abbreviations people use to give more information about a topic. In this post you will learn what i.e. and e.g. mean, their Latin root words, and how to tell them apart using a mnemonic device.

i.e. = in other words

The abbreviation i.e. comes from the Latin words id est, which means that is. We use it to give more details about something and to clarify.

Example: Liza has only one hobby (i.e., bowling).

Here we say that Liza has only one hobby, and we clarify that her one hobby is bowling. We could also say: Liza has only one hobby, in other words, bowling.

Note that the explanation that comes after i.e. can be the only answer.

e.g. = example

The abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means for the sake of example. We use it to give examples of something.

Example: Stacy saw many animals at the zoo, e.g., flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns.

Here we give examples of what animals Stacy saw at the zoo. She saw flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns, but those weren’t the only animals she saw. Those are examples of just some of the many animals she saw. Unlike with i.e., the explanation that comes after e.g. is only one or more of the possible answers.

Mnemonic Device

To remember what they mean, we’re going to say i.e. = in other words because they both start with the letter I, and e.g. = example because they both start with the letter E.

i.e. equals in other words; e.g. equals example

Quiz

Choose either i.e. or e.g. to fill in the spaces below. The answers are at the end.

  • The unicorn is skilled at hundreds of games, _____, poker, charades, and field hockey.
  • Unicorns are found in the wild in only one region, _____, the Philippines.
  • Unicorns can do many jobs (_____, accountant, glassblower, fitness coach, and talk show host).
  • Sal the unicorn has a favorite party trick (_____, blowing glitter from his horn).

 

Answers: 1) e.g. 2) i.e. 3) e.g. 4) i.e.

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company focused on helping women author-entrepreneurs reach their publishing goals. To learn more about how she can help you, no matter where you are on your writing adventure, check out her site: Dot and Dash LLC. There, you can also read her blog about writing: Dot and Dash blog.

Follow her on social media:
Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
Facebook: facebook.com/dotanddashllc

 

 

The Difference Between “Historic” and “Historical”

Photo of Big Ben at night
London’s Big Ben is a historic clock.

This post will teach you the difference between historic and historical. These two words have similar meanings and get confused a lot, so don’t feel bad that you haven’t memorized their definitions.

Historic describes an important and momentous event, person, place, or thing in history.

  • The Revolutionary War was a historic event in the United States.
  • Marie Curie is a historic figure in scientific history.
  • Big Ben is a historic clock.

Historical describes anything that belonged to an earlier time period and relates to history.

  • Grandma found historical dinner plates at the yard sale.
  • The farmhouse from the 1800s is historical.
  • We looked at a historical map of our town to learn its original design.

To remember the difference, think about historic as being something big (meaningful to many) and historical as something small (meaningful to a few).

For instance, the first flight of the Wright brothers is big. It’s meaningful to many people. So choose historic.

Meanwhile, your first plane ride is small. It’s meaningful to a few people. So choose historical.

I hope this clears up any confusion. If you enjoy reading about writing and literary topics, too, check out my other blog, Dot and Dash.

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach focusing on women author-entrepreneurs. She can help you succeed and make progress on your goals no matter where you are in the writing process. To learn more about her skills, check out her business’s website: Dot and Dash LLC.

Follow Erin on social media.
Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dotanddashllc
 

What is the past tense of “lead”?

 

the past tense of the verb lead is led

One of the most common errors I see as a copy editor is when people write the verb lead in the past tense incorrectly. It gets confusing because the past tense of lead is led, and led is pronounced the same way as the noun lead (the metal). And so people end up writing lead instead of led for the verb’s past tense.

Are you confused yet? Let me show you how you can remember the difference.

In the past tense, the verb lead sounds exactly like the verb bleed, just without the B. Bleed becomes bled, and lead becomes led.

Examples
He bled on his new shirt.
He led the race.

He cut himself shaving and bled.
He led the senator’s campaign.

Remember: If you find yourself questioning your spelling of lead in the past tense, recall that it’s the same as bleed in the past tense. Bleed becomes bled, and lead becomes led.

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach who helps authors at all stages of the writing process. If you have finished your book, or you are struggling to finish your book, get in touch to learn how she can help you. You can check out her website or email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

Fewer vs Less

colorful cookies with fruit on top

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Learning the difference between fewer and less is actually easier than you may think. The key is whether you can count the object or thing you are talking about.

Use fewer with objects you can count.
Use less with objects you can’t count.

For example, if you have a plate of six cookies in front of you, and then you eat one, you would say, “I have fewer than six cookies on my plate.” You use fewer because you can count the cookies individually.

However, if you have a full glass of milk with your cookies, and then you drink some milk, you would say, “I have less than a full glass of milk.” You use less because milk is a mass noun, which means you can’t count it. (For a refresher on mass nouns, check out this Grammar Party post.)

However—no big surprise here—there is an exception to this rule. When you’re talking about time, money, or distance, you are allowed to use less, even though you can count their specific units.

Time: If you start watching a one-hour television show, and then your friend asks you fifteen minutes later when it will be over, you would say, “The show will end in less than one hour.”

Money: If you start off with fifty dollars, but then you spend some, you’d say, “I have less than fifty dollars now.”

Distance: If the cookie store is one mile away from your house, and you have walked three blocks already, you would have less than one mile to go.

Quiz
To test your skills, fill in the blank with less or fewer. The answers are at the bottom.

  1. There is ____ than one mile left on the jogging route.
  2. Shelley is a smart kid. She got no _____ than four As on her report card.
  3. The world would be a better place if _____ violence existed.
  4. After that shopping spree, Shelley has _____ than twenty dollars left.
  5.  _____ than five people finished the cookie-eating contest.

Answers: 1. less 2. fewer 3. less 4. less 5. fewer

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach serving women author-entrepreneurs. To learn how she can help you with your next project, check out her website: Dot and Dash LLC. You can read her blog about fiction writing here: Dot and Dash blog.