TESOL/Belief

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How do you say you believe something 80% in English?

English has several ways to express our subjective belief in an event. They include I think that or I doubt that. (For more information about expressing the objective chance of an event, such as It's likely that, see Probability in English.)

Part of Speech 0% 10% 30% 50% 80% 90% 100%
Verb
  • can't imagine
  • can't believe
  • can't accept
  • really doubt
  • very much doubt
  • doubt
  • can imagine
  • think
  • guess
  • suppose
  • expect
  • suspect
  • really think
  • know
  • believe
Adjective
  • almost certain
  • sure (I was sure. It was sure.)
  • convinced
  • certain
Phrase
  • under the impression
  • of the opinion

Usage[edit]

Under the impression[edit]

We use under the impression if someone believes something, but in reality, they were wrong.

  • I was under the impression that it would rain today. (It was sunny.)
  • She was under the impression that he was coming at 5 PM. (He came at 6 PM.)

Suspect[edit]

We use suspect when we believe something about 80%, but we do not have much or any evidence. Often it is used to talk about negative things.

  • I suspect you are lying. (I think so but I can't prove it.)
  • I suspect she is coming. (I think so but she has not called me yet.)
  • So far my boss doesn't suspect anything. (My boss doesn't think I did anything, and he or she doesn't have any evidence to believe so.)

Disagreeing[edit]

We can use words indicating belief under 50% to disagree.

Doubt[edit]

We use doubt to disagree.

  • Will they finish on time? - I doubt it. (They will be early or late.)
  • Bill Clinton was the best president ever. - I doubt it. (I disagree.)

I don't know, I'm not sure[edit]

We can use I don't know (about it/that), I'm not sure (about it/that), or similar expressions to politely disagree. The real meaning is "I know and I don't think so," not "I don't know."

  • When you eat at a restaurant in Japan, you should pay a tip. - I don't know about that. I think tips are considered insulting in Japan.
  • I'm going to go swimming after eating a big meal. - I'm not sure that's a good idea. You might get sick.
  • Do you think you will get the job? - I don't know about it. It was a week ago and they haven't called me back.

Ellipsis[edit]

Often "I doubt it" undergoes ellipsis and becomes "doubt it" which is a short response that means we disagree.

  • Are you going back home this year? - Doubt it. (I don't think so.)

The same thing happens with "I don't know" and "I'm not sure."

  • Has the meeting finished? - Dunno. Nobody is back yet.
  • Is it going to rain? - Not sure. There's not a cloud in the sky.

In the extreme, "I don't know" becomes "uh-uh-uh" where each "uh" only retains the intonation of its origin in the phrase "I don't know."

Mechanics[edit]

Usually we express belief in English using verbs. If we are talking about probability, we usually do not use verbs.

Quiz[edit]

1 30%

I

that she is coming.

2 100%

I am

that you are correct.

3 80%

I

it will rain tomorrow.