The words \u2018imply\u2019 and \u2018infer\u2019 are basically opposite terms related to speaking and listening: a speaker can \u2018imply\u2019 something without stating it directly, whereupon a listener would have to \u2018infer\u2019 the meaning of their words.\n\nHowever, despite being opposites, these words are often confused. Needless to say, this isn\u2019t ideal if you want to communicate your ideas clearly in your written work. To make sure you avoid this common error in the future, simply follow the guidelines below.\nImply (Hint)\nThe verb \u2018imply\u2019 means to hint at something or express it indirectly (something implied is an \u2018implication\u2019):\nJim spoke vaguely of being tired, implying that he wanted to go home.\nAlthough she didn\u2019t say it out loud, Tara\u2019s body language implied she was fed up.\nAnother meaning of \u2018imply\u2019 is to suggest that something is a necessary or expected consequence of something else:\nThe dark clouds implied that it would be another stormy evening.\nIn both cases, however, the word \u2018imply\u2019 refers to the idea of something being suggested or indicated indirectly.\nInfer (Deduce)\nSo how about \u2018infer\u2019? Another verb, \u2018infer\u2019 means to come to a conclusion deductively (i.e., to identify something as plausible by reasoning from evidence). We call something concluded on this basis an \u2018inference\u2019.\n\nIn academic writing, it\u2019s common to see \u2018infer\u2019 used to describe reaching a conclusion based upon limited information:\nFrom the data available, I inferred that the experiment was sound.\nMore generally, we \u2018infer\u2019 something when we reach a conclusion based upon evidence or observation, rather than an explicit statement. It\u2019s primarily in this sense that \u2018infer\u2019 can be thought of as the opposite of \u2018imply\u2019:\nTara never said anything, but I inferred she was annoyed from her body language.\nIn the above, we see one of the examples used for \u2018imply\u2019 turned around; instead of describing how Tara\u2019s body language implied her emotions, we have an observer \u2018inferring\u2019 her emotional state.\nImply or Infer?\nHopefully, the definitions above have clarified things. If you\u2019re still confused, it can help to remember the distinction set out in the opening paragraph:\nA speaker implies; a listener infers.\nThis is a simplification (you can imply something without speaking, just as you can infer something based upon non-verbal information). But it does explain the relationship between the two words insofar as \u2018implying\u2019 suggests communicating something indirectly, while \u2018inferring\u2019 involves reaching a conclusion on the basis of what has been said.