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  1. #1
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    Question "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Can someone tell me the difference between two verbs: "to insinuate" vs "to imply": difference in their meaning, application, contextual use. Can someone also give me examples in which it would be appropriate to use the verbs, and example in which the verbs would be used by mistake ("to imply" in cases where "to insinuate" should have been used and vice versa).
    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Insinuate- always has a negative connotation, which 'imply' does not- 'imply' can be positive or negative.

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    Question Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Thank you for your prompt reply, although I still do not fully understand the distinction. I know of several instances when people were corrected in their use of one the two verbs in which the negative and positive aspects were not an issue. Rather it was the context, structure of statement, and contents.
    I apologize for requesting more information (English is not my first language), I am just trying to get to the bottom of the issue in order for me to know in which instances it would be appropriate to use each of the two verbs (especially since people around me get corrected in their use of the verbs).
    Thank you.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    The structure is the same- insinuate/imply that... I imagine the inappropriateness would come from the use iof 'insinuate' with a positive context:
    Are you insinuating that he's honest?

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    Question Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Are you saying that in a negative context these two verbs can be used interchangeably? "Are you implying he is dishonest?" or "Are you insinuating he is dishonest?" Are both these statements correct in their use of the two verbs?
    Thanks

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    I can imply or insinuate that someone is dishonest- imply can go either way, so, yes:
    Imply- positive or negative
    Insinuate- negative
    Therefore, the mistaken usage is likely to be with 'insinuate' rather than 'imply'. Another common mistake is to confuse 'imply' and 'infer'- people use 'infer' wrongly- the speaker implies and the listener infers. This is a common error amongst native speakers too.

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    Question Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Thank you for your explanation. Now that you mentioned the verb "to infer", can you, please, give me a couple of examples of correct use of the verb and a couple of examples of incorrect use of it.
    Sorry to bother you with all these questions, but I really want to learn. I know 3 languages and I love English more than all of them (except, of course, my first language). I am trying to learn as much as possible about English. So if you have time, please explain the correct and incorrect uses of the verb "to infer".
    Respectfully,
    ATDM

  8. #8
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    Default Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    'You've got to watch your step with him.'
    'What are you inferring?'
    This is a typical error- the second speaker should use 'implying' as the first speaker is trying to say something about the man. The first speaker is implying that there's something dangerous, etc, about the man. The second speaker, who is receiving and processing the information, is inferring.:
    'You've got to watch your step with him.'
    'What are you implying?'

  9. #9
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    Default Re: "To insinuate" vs "to imply"

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    'You've got to watch your step with him.'
    'What are you inferring?'
    This is a typical error- the second speaker should use 'implying' as the first speaker is trying to say something about the man. The first speaker is implying that there's something dangerous, etc, about the man. The second speaker, who is receiving and processing the information, is inferring.:
    'You've got to watch your step with him.'
    'What are you implying?'
    Hello,
    May I add a little to this discussion?
    I used to have a bit of difficulty between infer and imply, myself . I do not now. Your succinct explanation is great tdol! I wish someone had put it so nicely for me in the beginning.
    Let's put this in dialog fashion w/names to further illustrate the usages:
    Dad: "You've got to watch your step with him."
    Son: "Have you had previous dealings with him?"
    Dad: "Indeed, I have. They were none too pleasant."
    Son: "So, am I to infer, then, that he is dishonest?" (the son infers or makes a conclusion based on the facts that his father stated)
    Dad: "That is exactly what I'm implying."

    I hope this helps to clarify the situation some, too.

    Smiles,
    Sweet Momma Sue

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