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probably and possibly

English translation: likely to be and might be

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08:35 Sep 5, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Science - Mathematics & Statistics
English term or phrase: probably and possibly
One of my lecturers in the university has always told us "there are not any synonym words in any language; if you begin to use one word instead of another due to similiar meaning, it means that you begin to "kill" one of these two words...".

Now i see how right he is, i always thought that "possibly and probably" had the same meaning but in a "postmarketing surveillance study" of a drug i saw that these words had two slightly different meaning. What i need to know is this difference. In this study, authors report their ideas about the relationship between the drug and the adverse events and they consider some of these events as "definitely, probably or possibly related to treatment". So i need to know what other words i can use instead of probaby or possibly or the extent of their "power" in order to give the difference in the degree of relationship.
Tuncay Kurt
Turkey
English translation:likely to be and might be
Explanation:
"probably related to the treatment" means that the Investigator thinks that the treatment is likely to be the cause of the event.

"possibly" means that it might be the cause, but the Investigator doesn't necessarily think it's likely.

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Note added at 8 mins (2006-09-05 08:44:25 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

By the way, "probably" and "possibly" are not synonyms in any context.
Selected response from:

Marie-Hélène Hayles
Local time: 20:45
Grading comment
I think it is not easy to find a Turkish "meaning" for such a difference in one word. Thank You!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +12likely to be and might be
Marie-Hélène Hayles
4 +3another two bitsKen Cox
5very likely and feasible/practicablezax
5likely and potentially
Ioanna Karamanou
5 -2"there is a great cahance/risk of it" and "eventually it happens"Lingua Danica


  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +12
likely to be and might be


Explanation:
"probably related to the treatment" means that the Investigator thinks that the treatment is likely to be the cause of the event.

"possibly" means that it might be the cause, but the Investigator doesn't necessarily think it's likely.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 8 mins (2006-09-05 08:44:25 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

By the way, "probably" and "possibly" are not synonyms in any context.

Marie-Hélène Hayles
Local time: 20:45
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
I think it is not easy to find a Turkish "meaning" for such a difference in one word. Thank You!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Jack Doughty: Yes, I don't see how you could ever consider them synonyms.
27 mins

agree  Ken Cox: see also my answer
31 mins

agree  Lesley Clayton
1 hr

agree  Alison Jenner
1 hr

agree  Armorel Young: the words are hugely different - compare "you've probably got cancer" (it's very likely) with "you've possibly got cancer" (the likelihood may in fact be very small).
1 hr

agree  Alexander Demyanov
4 hrs

agree  Sophia Finos
4 hrs

agree  TRANZsmart
4 hrs

agree  RHELLER: and with Jack and Armorel :-)
5 hrs

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
7 hrs

agree  Lori Utecht/Vívian M Alves
12 hrs

agree  Dave Calderhead
15 hrs
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7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
likely and potentially


Explanation:
I think these two words well illustrate the difference between probably and possibly, respectively.

Ioanna Karamanou
United States
Local time: 14:45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GreekGreek
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12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -2
"there is a great cahance/risk of it" and "eventually it happens"


Explanation:
1. definitely: Unquestionably. It is so.
2. probably: There is a great chance/risk that it will be so. It is likely to be so.
3. possibly: It may be so. Eventually it happens. It can be so, but not necissarily.

Lingua Danica
Denmark
Local time: 20:45
Native speaker of: Danish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Marie-Hélène Hayles: "eventually" is not a synonym of "possibly" - it means "finally" or "after a long time"
4 mins
  -> Thank you :-)

disagree  Richard Benham: I agree with MHH: "eventually" has nothing to do with it (it is a "faux ami" for speakers of German and French, and, just possibly, Danish!) "Probably", to my mind, means "more likely than not" (i.e. probability>.5).
4 hrs
  -> Very enlightening. Thank you.

disagree  Dave Calderhead: and agree with Richard and MHH
15 hrs
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23 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
very likely and feasible/practicable


Explanation:
probably = in all likelihood
possibly = perhaps, maybe, conceivably

zax
Local time: 14:45
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
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37 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
another two bits


Explanation:
Besides the advice to consult a good English dictionary, I can suggest an analogy with Kudoz confidence ratings: definitely = 5, probably = 3 or 4, possibly = 1 or 2.

As others have noted, in this context 'definitely' means 'there is certainly a relationship', 'probably' means that a relationship is likely but not certain, and 'possibly' means 'there may be a relationship, but not necessarily' (i.e., any signs of a relationship may be only coincidental).

Ken Cox
Local time: 20:45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Lesley Clayton: nice explanation
32 mins

agree  RHELLER: good point :-)
5 hrs

agree  Lingua Danica: :-)
6 hrs
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