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Adverbs of certainty

Adverbs of certainty : 


Adverbs of certainty express how certain or sure we feel about an action or event.

Common adverbs of certainty:

  • definitely – 100% sure
  • probably – pretty sure; 70-90% sure
  • maybe – 50% sure
  • probably not – 70-90% sure of something not happening or being true
  • definitely not – 100% sure of something not happening or being true


  • He definitely left the house this morning.
  • He surely won't forget.
  • He is probably in the park.
  • He is certainly a smart man.


Adverbs of certainty usually go in mid position.

1. Adverbs of certainty go before the main verb but after the verb 'to be':

  • He is undoubtedly a great leader. (is/am/are/was/were + adverb)
  • certainly feel better today. (adverb + main verb)
  • He definitely left the house this morning.
  • He is probably in the park.

2. With other auxiliary verb, these adverbs go between the auxiliary and the main verb:

  • She will probably come. (auxiliary verb + adverb + main verb)
  • It will certainly rain this evening. (auxiliary verb + adverb + main verb)
  • He has certainly forgotten the meeting.
  • He will probably remember tomorrow.

3. When there are two or more auxiliaries, the adverb goes after the first.

  • You have definitely been working too hard. (first auxiliary + adverb + second auxiliary + other verb)

4. Sometimes these adverbs can be placed at the beginning of the sentence:

  • Undoubtedly, Winston Churchill was a great politician.
  • Perhaps she will come.
  • May be you are right.

BE CAREFUL! with surely. When it is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it means the speaker thinks something is true, but is looking for confirmation:

  • Surely you've got a bicycle?
  • Surely you're not going to wear that to the party.