Adverbials of probability

Level: beginner

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

certainly definitely maybe possibly
clearly obviously  perhaps probably
Adverbials of probability 1


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.

or after the present simple or past simple of be

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

But these adverbs sometimes come at the beginning of a clause for emphasis:

Obviously she was very surprised.
Possibly we will come to England next year.

Adverbials of probability 2


Adverbials of probability 3


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Elma 提交于 周四, 14/05/2020 - 11:54

Hi. I want to know if there's a difference or not in these two sentences below: A. The eggs are almost all white. B. All the eggs are almost white.

Peter M. 提交于 周五, 15/05/2020 - 07:05

Elma 回复


Hello Elma,

There is a difference:


> The eggs are almost all white - there are one or two eggs which are brown OR the eggs are white with brown spots or marks.


> The eggs are almost white - their colour is not quite white, but is very similar to white.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir Please let me know whether this sentence is right or wrong. Where did you go to yesterday? I write it without 'to' e.g. Where did you go yesterday ? Are both correct or only the second? please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

The first sentence is not correct; the second one is.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir I have seen on your website this: 'Maybe we should start again.' My question: Is it all right to write may and be together or 'may be' with a gap or both are correct ? Please let me know. thank you. Regards

Hello Lal,

The word maybe means the same as the word perhaps. It is used to describe something which is uncertain but possible.

The phrase may be is a modal verb with the infinitive be. Other infinitives can be used: may go, may need, may want, may win, may lose etc. In this use may has a range of possible meanings. You can read about those on our pages about modal verbs.



The LearnEnglish Team

Seongsoo 提交于 周六, 30/09/2017 - 15:41

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?

Peter M. 提交于 周日, 01/10/2017 - 08:19

Seongsoo 回复


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,


The LearnEnglish Team


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Angie9 提交于 周四, 19/01/2017 - 11:06

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,
The LearnEnglish Team


chemist1990 提交于 周日, 02/08/2015 - 12:26

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

AdamJK 提交于 周一, 03/08/2015 - 00:37

chemist1990 回复

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

grammar2015 提交于 周五, 12/06/2015 - 04:57

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

Peter M. 提交于 周日, 14/06/2015 - 07:26

grammar2015 回复


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,


The LearnEnglish Team

nicoll.velastegui 提交于 周日, 24/05/2015 - 23:56

Hi.. I don't Understand what you mean with. " but in after am, is, are, was, were" Please, could you explain it to me.

Kirk 提交于 周一, 25/05/2015 - 08:15

nicoll.velastegui 回复


Hello nicoll.velastegui,

This was a mistake on our part – the word 'in' should not have been there. We're sorry if that caused you any confusion. It has now been corrected thanks to you!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

elis quinn 提交于 周六, 08/12/2012 - 13:44


Hi.. I'm a new member and glad to join. I want to practice my grammar. I click to the  grammar exercise but i can't fill in the blank. It has an instructions then i click start, but it won't start. Teacher pls help me.

Thank You. 

Hello elis!


I'm sorry you're having a problem with this exercise. The grammar task works OK for me, so can you help me to find out what the problem is?


  • What computer or smartphone are you using? (Windows, Mac, HTC...)
  • Which web browser are you using? (Firefox, Internet Explorer...?)
  • Have you tried any other web pages or tasks on LearnEnglish?
  • Do you still have the same problem if you use a different computer?


Let me know the answers, and we'll try to solve the problem!




Jeremy Bee
The Learn English Team