Monday, 23 November 2015

This is likely an Americanism

One other thing I've noticed in student essays much more this time than previously is the use of likely. Here is the relevant use:
This is likely a result of X. 
I understand what this means, it's not ungrammatical, but it's not in my idiolect (=the variety of English specific to me). I'd have to write one of the following:
This is likely to be a result of X.
This is probably a result of X.
Because the first type isn't in my idiolect, I can't tell whether it's proper 'academese'. It sounded informal to me, until I asked Twitter and was directed to this blog post by Lynne Murphy. It is apparently a UK/US difference. Why my students are using it, I don't know: presumably this usage is spreading to this country.

1 comment:

  1. This use of 'likely' wasn't originally in my (Irish English) idiolect, but after becoming habituated to it in AmE I consciously adopted it and use it occasionally when I deem it especially suitable or convenient. I'm slightly surprised at how naturally it can occur in my speech now.