Adverbials of probability

We use adverbials of probability to show how certain we are about something. The most frequent adverbials of probability are:

certainly - definitely - maybe - possibly
clearly - obviously - perhaps - probably

maybe and perhaps usually come at the beginning of the clause:

Perhaps the weather will be fine.
Maybe it won’t rain.

Other adverbs of possibility usually come in front of the main verb:

He is certainly coming to the party.
Will they definitely be there?
We will possibly come to England next year.

but after am, is, are, was, were:

They are definitely at home.
She was obviously very surprised.

Exercise

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Comments

Hi
I have a question about the word "definitely"

In the conversation,
A: Why didn't you call me last night?
B: I definitely called you. You didn't answer.

Can I use the word "definitely" in the above sentence?
Is it a correct sentence grammatically?
Is it a natural sentence in English?

Hello Seongsoo,

Yes, it is fine to use 'definitely' here. We actually use the word quite often when we are talking about things we are sure that we remember.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good morning,

If we use the adverbs in sentences which have should, would or won´t, where would we place them? Before the action verb?
for example... "they should definetly come" or "they definetly should come"

and in the negative of the same sentence?
"They shouldn´t definetly come" or "they definetly shouldn´t come"

in questions I asume it would be "Should they definetly come?"

Am I right??

Thanks so much

Hello Angie,

The position of the adverbs in all of the phrases you propose except 'they shouldn't definitely come' is correct, and there is no difference in meaning between them. You can see some good explanations of this topic on this Cambridge Dictionary page and this BBC page. After you've read through them, if you have any other specific questions, please let us know and we'll do our best to help you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hello kirk. Achilleas here from Greece. My son have a question in English. ..
I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF THE PRICE.........
THAT'S MEAN - CERTAINLY - POSSIBILITY OR DOUBT
THANK U

Hello Achilleas,

If you say 'I wouldn't be surprised if the price is X', it means that you think the price is X but you're not sure. So I'd say 'possibility' is the best answer of the options you mention.

By the way, if he hasn't seen them already, your son might be interested in LearnEnglish Teens (for adolescents) or LearnEnglish Kids (for younger kids).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
I have a big problem with adverbs in English. If we say adverbs describe the way of action or verbs so we can't use the for adj. But, in contrast, I've seen many times in the books I've read that the author use adverb in a weird way. let me give you some example:
a sufficiently serious motive
(this is the full sentence: For one thing, he denies that mere fascination or curiosity is a sufficiently serious motive for doing history.)
now what is the diffrence in between in their meaning:
a sufficiently serious motive
and
a sufficient serious motive
thanks in advance for your help

Hi Chemist,

'A sufficient serious motive' isn't good English to my ears. It sounds like 'sufficient' and 'serious' are both trying to describe 'motive', but then you'd want a comma or 'and' between them.

Best wishes,

Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
Question 6 above: Maybe we should start again.
is again an an adverbial of time? if yes, is it frequency?

Hello grammar2015,

'Again' is an adverb of time, which includes adverbs of frequency. Strictly, 'again' tells us that something has been done before, but does not answer the question 'how often' and, therefore, does not describe frequency. However, please remember that these are semantic categories rather than grammatical categories, so they overlap and are quite subjective. I wouldn't worry overly about whether or not the name 'adverb of frequency' is appropriate; the important thing is that it is an adverb and that you are clear on the meaning.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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