Wrong Word Wednesday #21

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television

Infer / Imply

Again, similar but different words though the differences are perhaps slightly more subtle than some of those I have featured The only real difference is between the person carrying out the act. Imply is an active act when a person says or does something whereas infer is passive – it is the act of somebody else’s reaction. Let me explain.

If a solicitor presents evidence about a defendant to a jury, he is implying guilt.
If a jury member comes to his/her own conclusion about the guilt of the defendant based on the evidence, then he/she is inferring guilt. To imply is an action, to infer is a reaction.


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