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Expressing Future Probability in English

Hi dear English learners! Here is another lesson to help you understand English better. Today, we will look at some words, phrases and modal verbs for expressing future probability in English. It means that we are going to talk about how probable things are to happen in the future. This is the vocabulary covered in this lesson:

  • Probably
  • Likely / unlikely
  • It looks like  / it looks as if / (so) it seems
  • Certainly / definitely / undoubtedly
  • There is no doubt / without a (any) doubt
  • Bound to / inevitable 
  • No chance / fat chance
  • Opinion verbs and phrases: I’m sure, I don’t doubt that, I expect, I think, I don’t think, I doubt it,  I would say/think, etc.
  • Modal verbs: could, may, might, will

Expressing Future Probability in English

Probably

Probably is an adverb used to say that something is likely to happen.

  • Look at those clouds. It’s probably going to rain during the night.
  • After her parents had died, she knew she would probably never visit her home town again.
  • I haven’t studied much. I will probably fail the exam.

Likely / unlikely

Adjective likely is a synonymous word to probably. We use it to say that things are probably going to happen, and unlikely to state the opposite.

  • His latest novel is likely to become a best seller.
  • It is most likely that we won’t be able to arrive on time for dinner. We have a lot of work to do.
  • Children who don’t have pets are often unlikely to feel sympathy for animals’ suffering in their adult lives.

It looks like / it looks as if / (so) it seems

We use the phrases it looks like, it looks as if and (so) it seems when the present situation shows what will happen in the future.

  • It looks like the bus is not coming soon; do you think we should call a taxi?
  • It looks as if we have to cancel the concert because the singer is ill.
  • He’s found a better job, so it seems he’s not coming back.

Expressing Future Probability in English

Certainly / definitely

Use certainly and definitely to say that something is most likely to happen.

  • If you cut carbohydrates, you’ll certainly lose a lot of weight.
  • The opinion polls show that this candidate is certainly going to win.
  • Don’t worry, I’m definitely coming to your birthday party.

There is no doubt / undoubtedly / without a (any) doubt

Use these phrases to express a high level of certainty.

  • There is no doubt that Chelsea is going to win the match.
  • His theory will undoubtedly be accepted by mainstream scientists.
  • We can state, without any doubt, that globalisation is here to stay. 

Expressing Future Probability in English

Bound to / inevitable

If something is bound or inevitable to happen, then it most certainly will.

  • The new situation between the two countries is bound to change their relationship.
  • I’m sure that Michael is bound to keep his promise.
  • It is inevitable that you will make mistakes when you start working.

Expressing Future Probability in English

No chance / fat chance

These are the phrases that express an extremely low level of probability.

  • Without any help, we have no chance of succeeding.
  • There is no chance she’ll ever go on a date with him, so stop thinking about it.
  • ‘Do you think you’ll be able to join us for dinner?’  ‘Fat chance! I’ve got a lot of work to do.’

Opinion verbs and phrases: I’m sure, I doubt it, I don’t doubt that, I expect, I think, I don’t think,  I would say/think, etc.

  • I’m sure that your son will become a great pianist.
  • We all expect the weather to change soon.
  • I doubt there will be any changes in our timetable in the next period.

Expressing Future Probability in English

We use modal verbs could, may, might, will + infinitive to express future probability.

  • Jack is coming to town. He could visit us tomorrow. I’d better prepare a nice dinner.
  • Sally called to say that she may be late for the meeting.
  • We haven’t decided yet, but we might go on holiday to Spain.
  • If things continue to happen at this pace, the company will make a big profit.

In conclusion

To sum up, we discussed words and phrases you can use to express future probability in English. The vocabulary we looked at is:

  • Probably
  • Likely / unlikely
  • It looks like / it looks as if / (so) it seems
  • Certainly / definitely / undoubtedly
  • There is no doubt / without a (any) doubt
  • Bound to / inevitable
  • No chance / fat chance
  • Opinion verbs and phrases: I’m sure, I don’t doubt that, I expect, I think, I don’t think, I doubt it, I would say/think, etc.
  • Modal verbs: could, may, might, will
Expressing Future Probability in English
Expressing Future Probability in English
Expressing Future Probability in English
Expressing Future Probability in English

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