Adverbs of Probability

Adverbs of probability indicate how certain we are about an action. In this lesson, we will learn about how and when to use them.

"Adverbs of Probability" in the English Grammar

What Are Adverbs of Probability?

Adverbs of probability are a type of adverb used to indicate the likelihood or probability of an event or situation occurring. They provide information about the speaker's or writer's degree of certainty or uncertainty about what is being discussed.

Most Common Adverbs of Probability

The most common adverbs of probability are:

  • definitely
  • certainly
  • maybe
  • possibly
  • perhaps
  • probably
  • likely
  • very likely
  • not likely

Adverbs of Probability: Structure

Many (but not all) adverbs of probability end with -ly. For example:

It will probably take place at midnight.

You should certainly consider it.

But of course, there are some exceptions. Some of them are flat adverbs (also called bare adverbs or simple adverbs) and some others are formed by a preposition + a noun phrase:

  • doubtless
  • for sure
  • for certain

Doubtless there would be lots of rumors.

adverbs of certainty

Adverbs of Probability: Placement

We usually place adverbs of probability before the main verb.

They did everything they possibly could to save his life.

You definitely need a break.

using an adverb of probability in a sentence

If the verb of the sentence is 'to be', adverbs of probability come after it.

This is certainly not mine.

Diana is probably right.

Usually, 'perhaps' and 'maybe' are placed at the beginning of the clause.

Maybe he'll come tomorrow.

Perhaps it will snow tomorrow.


'Perhaps' can be used at the end of the sentence, but only in spoken English.

We'll watch a movie, perhaps.

Adverbs of Probability: Uses

Here, you can see a list of the most common adverbs of probability arranged from the least likely to the most likely:

maybe the least likely
certainly the most likely


Adverbs of probability are used to express how certain we are about an event. They are used in different positions in the clause but mainly they are placed:

  • before the main verb
  • after the verb 'be'
  • sometimes at the beginning of the clause


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