Monday, January 18, 2010

Should I Just Give Up?

Two unrelated matters. One is a matter of usage. I have been noticing that many educated speakers and writers mistake imply and infer. They use infer to mean imply. I don't know if the distinction between them is another one of those things I should just give up on, or if it is salvageable. To imply means the speaker says something indirectly, making an implication. To infer means the hearer 'gets the message' or, to be less colloquial, the hearer makes an inference. In short, the producer of the utterance or sentence implies. The recipient infers.

17 comments:

The Voice said...

Am I to infer that you are implying that people who intend to imply wrongly infer when they refer to their implications as inferences?

It begs the question, when one does so unintentionally might they be considered impudent by someone who actually considers such an egregious error because the offender is careless in word choice rather than ignorant as to the difference between 'imply' and 'infer?'

Impishly yours,
The inferential implicator
J

smarthotoldlady said...

Gulp! (Infer what you will if you perceive this to be an implication)

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