Adverbs of Probability (+ an English Idiom)

3 Adverbs of Probability – Learn FAST w/video (2021)

definitely
“If you buy a cheap computer, you will definitely have problems after a year or two. Cheap electronics never last.”
100%
probably
“If you pay a high price, the thing you buy will probably be high quality.”
70-80%
maybe
A: “Will you join us for a drink on Friday?”
B: “Maybe. I’m not sure if my boss wants us to work overtime or not. I’ll call you tomorrow at 5:00 and let you know.”
50%

Teaching Adverbs of Probability to my private student

In this English blog post, I want to teach you some helpful English that I taught to one of my private students here in Japan. The content of this post is from a real lesson, a natural conversation with some useful English grammar and expressions. Natural English, from a native-speaking teacher, is the best way to learn.

My student and I were talking about clothes that are very cheap. I said it feels good to get a sweater for a few dollars, but you get what you pay for.

I explained:

If you pay a high price, the thing you buy will probably be high quality. If you pay a low price, the thing that you buy will be of lower quality. It won’t last very long or it will damage easily.

My student understood the feeling, but he wasn’t sure about the word probably.

“the thing you bought will probably be high quality”

Probably

Probably is an adverb used to show how likely something is to happen or be true.

*Quick pronunciation note! 

The word probably has 3 syllables – PRAW-BAB-LEE  but a native speaker, talking at natural speed will often reduce the word to 2 syllables – (I do this all the time!)

PRAW-BLEE

“I’ll probably be late for dinner tonight, I have a meeting after work.”

Probably pronunciation
Adverbs of Probability

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3 common adverbs of probability

An easy way to understand probability is with a simple chart. This is what I showed my student with 3 common adverbs of probability.

definitely 100% I’m very confident that this is true
probably 70-80% I’m confident that this is true
maybe 50% This could be true or not true

Adverb examples

If we say definitely
We are very confident that something will happen or something is true. Our confidence is 100%.

“If you buy a cheap computer, you will definitely have problems after a year or two. Cheap electronics never last.” 

A: “Do you think Toyota makes quality cars?”
B: “Definitely. That company has a long history of making cars that perform well and last a long time.”


If we say maybe
We feel something may happen or may be true. Our confidence is around the middle. 50%

A: “Will you join us for a drink on Friday?”
B: “Maybe. I’m not sure if my boss wants us to work overtime or not. I’ll call you tomorrow at 5:00 and let you know.”

What is the difference between probably and maybe?
Adverbs of Probability

What is the difference between probably and maybe?

Probably is somewhere between Definitely and Maybe. Our confidence level is more than 50%, but not quite 100%.

“If you pay a high price, the thing you buy will probably be high quality.”

Probably shows a higher level of confidence than maybe.

Idiom – You get what you pay for

Here is the definition of “You get what you pay for” From Wiktionary.org
– In commercial transactions, the quality of goods and services increases as the prices increase, i.e., the more one pays, the better the merchandise. 

Very simply this means the price you pay relates to the quality of the goods.

If you buy something from the Dollar store, the quality of whatever you bought will not be very good because the price is so low.

Idiom - You get what you pay for

Learn even MORE English Idioms – 10 Idioms with PIG

 4 MORE examples with You get what you pay for


Frank: “This coffee tastes awful!”
Leon: “It was 75 cents, what do you expect! You get what you pay for.”


“I don’t mind paying a little more for organic vegetables, they are healthy and they don’t use dangerous chemicals. They’re expensive but you get what you pay for.”


“I was happy to find these shoes for such a low price, but they fell apart after 3 weeks. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. You get what you pay for.”


“Your computer always crashes because it’s junk. You should have spent more money and got a good brand, you get what you pay for.”

Adverbs of Probability VIDEO

Watch the video to improve your English listening skills as you review this grammar.

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