Hi everybody! I've already posted another thread. I'm a student and i'm supposed to understand the difference and the different context of use of the following verbs: apt, liable, likely, prone. I've already looked up in the dictionary but some examples aren't clear.
Thank you in advance for your help!

  • theangler

    England, English
    Apt means appropriate to the circumstances.
    eg. an apt decision

    Looking at your other words, though, I think they mean apt in the sense of having a tendency to do something.
    eg. he was apt to muddling up his verb endings (i.e. he had that tendency)

    Liable and likely I would suggest mean a very similar thing, though liable tends to imply something negative.
    eg. I am likely to win this bet
    He is liable to crash if he drives without his glasses

    Prone is like liable (i.e. meaning 'likely to do something), but nearly always suggests something regrettable or unwelcome.
    eg. man is prone to err


    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    There is quite a lot of overlap between these terms. I'll try and give an example sentence for each wherein the other words would be less correct. Please bear in mind that used in other contexts the same words have different connotations.

    Having had to fend for himself from a young age, Jeremy was apt to learn things quickly.

    I had lived in the country for seven months of the year and was thus liable to pay income tax on the majority of my earnings.

    Henrietta was likely to show up at any minute.

    Poor old Martha was prone to saying the most unfortunate things at the worst of times.


    Sorry but I still don't understand. I'm sorry but I have no context and no examples. The question on my exam was what's the difference between likely and the other ones...but from the previous examples i really can't understand. Sorry :(


    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I'm afraid your exam question wasn't clear in that case. The best you can do is point out a situation where likely is the only word that fits. You could say for example that "A positive outcome is likely". This use of likely can't be replaced by any of the others.


    New Member
    English - American
    Apt generally has a more positive connotation. If you study hard, you are apt to get good grades.

    Liable has a more negative feel. If you play video games instead of studying, you are liable to fail your test tomorrow.

    Likely can be used the same way, but it implies an even greater probability or immediacy. If I tried to ride a skateboard, I would likely break my arm. It is very cloudy, rain is likely

    Prone indicates a weakness or predisposition. A clumsy man is prone to falling down. A romantic is prone to falling in love.

    Inclined indicates a bias or predilection but can be noncommittal. If you upped the salary, I might be inclined to accept your job offer.

    If someone says they are inclined to something, they either haven't completely made up their mind, or they wish to give the impression that they haven't while still voicing an opinion in a specific direction.

    While I am inclined to vote for candidate X in the upcoming election; I still want to hear what the other candidates have to say before making up my mind.
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