Georgia NeSmith
3 min readDec 5, 2020


I have a correction.

Whether in scientific or non-scientific language, imply & Infer mean two different things. The difference is in the subject reading or writing the information. Example:

You imply that "imply" and "infer" have similar meanings, but one is more ambiguous. However, your example below, while correct, is correct for a reason different from what you suggest. (I say "suggest" here instead of "imply" because you don't just imply it, you say it outright.)

"Imply" indicates that you have not stated something directly. You didn't "imply" the two words are similar but rather stated that directly.

"Infer" is something else. It changes the subject of the action.

"I infer from your statement about 'imply' and 'infer' that youi don't actually know the difference between the two words."

"I infer from" the data xyz "that...[yada yada]"

"You imply that I am wrong..."

YOU can imply [that is, state indirectly]...But if you INFER something it is always from something SOME ONE ELSE said or from direct observation.

YOU say [not imply, but SAY) "In scientific writing, infer is less ambiguous. An implication is denotatively less certain.

When writing to express a sense of certainty, consider using infer."

Infer vs imply has nothing to do with certainty. It's all about who is the subject of the statement.

"I infer from your statement that you imply I am wrong."

Your example:

Avoid: The dataset our team asked us to review included extensive missing data, which implies user error. It is a better sentence because it is shorter and precise.

YOU the reviewer have assessed the data and from that data you infer that the missing data is in fact due to user error.

Correct use of infer. The missing data IMPLIES user error.


Our team asked us to review a data set. We found missing data in the data set. Based on our review of the missing data, we infer user error.

YOU infer your conclusion from what your interpretation of the data implies.

Yes, "implication" does imply less certainty. However, while "implication" is from the same root word as imply, it is not a verb and therefore has no application to the differences between these two verbs.

The only difference is who is IMPLYING TO whom. And who is INFERRING FROM whom.

There are several perhaps better explanations than mine here of the difference. One simple one: "imply" involves GIVING information while "INFER" involves RECEIVING information.

Another example:

President trump has *inferred* from the constitution that the constitution *implies* he does not have to leave office unless and until he accepts the results of the election.

It does no such thing, of course, but that's neither here nor there. However, the words "imply" and "infer" are used correctly here.

For reinforcement and more examples, google

imply vs infer

and you will find many grammarians explaining it...and many other things.

Whenever I'm not sure if I am using a word or phrase correctly [I do forget, or, more likely, become uncertain] I just google it. Today's hard drives have pretty much every answer to any question most people might ask.

I think we should call the upcoming generation the "blessed by the internet" generation. Crazy thing is, a whole lot of people have no idea how much is there.



Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.