A sure bet

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In today's Independent, a British broadsheet newsapaper, Adrian Hamilton wrote the following sentences:

But I do know that if I were Tony Blair, I'd take these intimations of mortality as the occasion to get out of the job. Indeed I'm willing to bet that by Easter he may well have done so.

This is an interesting mixture of emphasis and hedging. On the one hand, we have 'indeed' as an intensifier and 'well' to add to the modal. However, bets are made on outcomes, not possibilities. If Mr Hamilton were to enter a betting office and try to place money on his belief that Mr Blair may well have done something by a certain date in the future, he would find that few bookmakers would accept the bet. A bet would be on whether he will have done something or not.

Mr Hamilton is an interesting journalist and writes well, but here the caution and hedging that comes with writing about politics has created a bizarre sentence.

Categories: General


I wonder what odds you might get.

"Indeed I'm willing to bet that by Easter he may well have done so."

This is the same as saying, "I believe there is a good chance he will have done so."

good chance he will have done so = willing to bet he may well have done so

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