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Likely vs. Probably: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
"Likely" suggests a strong probability of something happening or being true, while "probably" indicates that something is more likely to occur or be true than not, but with less certainty than "likely."
Likely vs. Probably

Key Differences

Likely is used to describe something that has a strong chance of happening or being true. It conveys a sense of high probability but is not absolute. Probably also indicates that something is more likely to happen than not, but it often implies a slightly lower degree of certainty compared to "likely".
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023
Likely can be used as both an adjective and an adverb, modifying nouns and verbs respectively, to indicate high probability. For instance, "a likely outcome" or "likely to occur." Probably, however, is primarily used as an adverb, as in "probably going to happen," and it typically modifies verbs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023
In everyday usage, likely often suggests a sense of expectation based on evidence or logical reasoning. It implies that, given the circumstances, the event or fact in question is expected to occur. Probably, while also used to indicate expectation, often conveys a slightly less certain stance, perhaps based more on intuition than on solid evidence.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023
The term likely can also imply suitability or appropriateness, such as in "a likely candidate." This usage is more about suitability than probability. Probably does not share this connotation and is exclusively used to discuss probability.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023
When choosing between likely and probably, the context often dictates usage. Likely is more formal and might be preferred in written or official communications. Probably is more colloquial and common in everyday speech.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Can be an adjective or adverb.
Primarily used as an adverb.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Degree of Certainty

Implies a higher degree of certainty.
Slightly lower degree of certainty.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Usage Context

More formal, often seen in written text.
More colloquial, common in spoken language.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Additional Connotations

Can imply suitability.
Lacks the connotation of suitability.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Typical Modifiers

Modifies nouns and verbs.
Primarily modifies verbs.
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Nov 12, 2023
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Likely and Probably Definitions

Likely

Having a high probability of occurring.
It is likely to rain tomorrow.
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Nov 12, 2023

Probably

More likely than not to occur or be true.
She will probably arrive late.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Seeming suitable or probable.
She is a likely candidate for the job.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Probably

Used to express a high degree of likelihood.
It will probably rain this afternoon.
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Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Suggesting something that is plausible.
A likely explanation for the delay is traffic.
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Nov 12, 2023
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Probably

Suggesting a greater than 50% chance.
You'll probably find him at the office.
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Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable
They are likely to become angry with him. See Usage Note at liable.
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Oct 19, 2023

Probably

Indicating something is very likely.
They will probably win the championship.
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Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Within the realm of credibility; plausible
Not a very likely excuse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Probably

Expressing belief that something is true.
He's probably the best choice for the role.
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Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Apparently appropriate or suitable
There were several likely candidates for the job.
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Oct 19, 2023

Probably

Most likely; presumably.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome; promising
A likely topic for investigation.
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Oct 19, 2023

Probably

In all likelihood.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Attractive; pleasant
Found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Probably

In a probable manner; in likelihood.
Distinguish between what may possibly and what will probably be done.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Probably
They'll likely buy a new car soon.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Probably

With considerable certainty; without much doubt;
He is probably out of the country
In all likelihood we are headed for war
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Probable; having a greater-than-even chance of occurring
Rain is likely later this afternoon.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Probably

Easy to believe on the basis of available evidence;
He talked plausibly before the committee
He will probably win the election
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Reasonably to be expected; apparently destined, probable
They are likely to become angry with him.
He is likely to succeed at anything he tries.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Appropriate, suitable; believable; having a good potential
Jones is a likely candidate for management.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Plausible; within the realm of credibility
Not a very likely excuse.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Promising; apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome
A likely topic for investigation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Attractive; pleasant
I found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

(obsolete) Similar; like; alike.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Something or somebody considered likely.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

(obsolete) Similarly.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Probably.
Likely he’ll win the election in this economy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Worthy of belief; probable; credible; as, a likely story.
It seems likely that he was in hope of being busy and conspicuous.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Having probability; having or giving reason to expect; - followed by the infinitive; as, it is likely to rain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Similar; like; alike.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Such as suits; good-looking; pleasing; agreeable; handsome.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Having such qualities as make success probable; well adapted to the place; promising; as, a likely young man; a likely servant.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Improbable; unlikely; - used ironically; as, a likely story.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

In all probability; probably.
While man was innocent he was likely ignorant of nothing that imported him to know.
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Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Has a good chance of being the case or of coming about;
These services are likely to be available to us all before long
She is likely to forget
A likely place for a restaurant
The broken limb is likely to fall
Rain is likely
A likely topic for investigation
Likely candidates for the job
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Likely but not certain to be or become true or real;
A likely result
He foresaw a probable loss
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Expected to become or be; in prospect;
Potential clients
Expected income
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Within the realm of credibility;
Not a very likely excuse
A plausible story
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

With considerable certainty; without much doubt;
He is probably out of the country
In all likelihood we are headed for war
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Likely

Having a good chance of being the case.
They are likely to win the game.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Likely

Appropriate or probable in a given situation.
He is the likely successor to the position.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does likely mean?

Likely means having a good chance of occurring or being true.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

How is probably different from likely?

Probably is similar but often implies a slightly lower degree of certainty compared to likely.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

What part of speech is probably?

Probably is primarily used as an adverb.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Does likely have different meanings?

Likely can mean probable or suitable, depending on the context.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Does likely only refer to probability?

Likely primarily refers to probability but can also imply suitability.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

How does probably modify a sentence?

Probably modifies verbs to indicate that something is more likely to happen than not.
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Nov 12, 2023

Can likely be used for people?

Yes, like in "a likely candidate."
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can likely be used as an adjective?

Yes, likely can function as both an adjective and an adverb.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is probably a formal term?

Probably is more colloquial and commonly used in spoken language.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is likely used in official contexts?

Likely is often used in more formal or written contexts.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is likely a common word in everyday speech?

Likely is common but more formal than probably.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Does probably have any other meanings?

Probably is used solely to indicate likelihood.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

How do context and tone affect the use of probably?

The use of probably can be influenced by the speaker's tone and the context of the conversation, affecting the implied degree of certainty.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can probably be used to express certainty?

Probably expresses a high degree of likelihood, but not absolute certainty.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can probably be used to make predictions?

Yes, probably is often used to make predictions about the future.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is probably less certain than definitely?

Yes, probably is less certain than definitely.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can likely indicate a high probability?

Yes, likely indicates a high probability of something happening.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is probably used in academic writing?

Probably can be used in academic writing but is less formal than likely.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Are likely and probably interchangeable?

They are often interchangeable, but likely is slightly more formal and certain.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Does the usage of likely vary in different English dialects?

The usage of likely can vary slightly but generally retains the same meaning.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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