A great deal can be ___ about the composer's state of mind

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Senior Member
Hi. I came across this multiple choice question.
A great deal can be ___ about the composer's state of mind from his work at this period.

A) inferred
B) deduced
C) implied
D) comprised
The answer key says "deduced", but aren't there two correct answers? I think "inferred" is okay here, too. I mean, don't they mean the same thing?
Or am I just flat-out wrong? Why doesn't "inferred" work here?

  • elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The sentence does say “from,” later. “Inferred from the composer’s state of mind” would change the meaning.

    While this word order may not be common with “inferred,” I can’t say that it would be flat-out incorrect here, so I understand xrn’s bewilderment.

    That said, I am skeptical about the validity of the question, since it uses “at this period,” which I find incorrect.
    I think inferred is not a bad choice, not a bad first choice, in fact. There is an established phrase "deductive inference." Inference is broader. From the work, strict deductions are limited. He wrote a letter headed, "Paris" in 1918. We deduce he was in Paris, in 1918.
    The letter is a jumble of thoughts: We infer he was drunk at the time; however later we learn he'd had a small stroke.

    The Dimensionality of Reasoning: Inductive and Deductive Inference ...

    by BK Hayes - ‎2018
    Feb 1, 2018 - The Dimensionality of Reasoning: Inductive and Deductive Inference can be Explained by a Single Process. Hayes BK, Stephens RG, Ngo J, ...
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    I would have immediately chosen A) 'inferred'. 'Deduce' is less common in my experience and has a more specialised meaning - to arrive at a conclusion by going from the general to the specific, the opposite of induce*, which is to arrive at a conclusion about the general based on a single fact, i.e. from the specific to the general. Or the other way round, I don't remember what our psychology teacher was telling us - always found the subject boring. :)

    *I have never seen 'induce' used that way, however.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    When I read the thread title before clicking on it I thought "I bet the word is 'inferred'; I wonder what the other options are".
    The word order is fine to me, with "about the composers mind" coming before "from his work" but, as others have said "at this period" is odd.

    I have no problems with "deduced"; it is used like this in everyday English, though it might be inappropriate in a scientific context. Alternatively, perhaps scientific deductions can be made about his mind from his work.


    Senior Member
    British English
    For me, "can be inferred" is more tentative than "can be deduced".

    In this context, I would use "can be inferred" - meaning that it is reasonable to believe something as highly likely based on the available evidence.

    I also dislike using "deduce" when referring to matters which are clearly EMPIRICAL, rather than based on logical reasoning from first principles.
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