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How do you know when "наверное" means "probably" and not "certainly"?

0 votes

My dictionary says that наверное means two opposite things:

  1. probably, most likely
  2. for sure, certainly, for certain

You don't say "probably" when you are "certain" about something. So how do you know when it's translated one way and not another? Any examples would be helpful. Thanks!

asked Jan 16, 2013 by strochka (530 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
Best answer

"наверное" means "probably" when it's inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it (that's called parenthesis). For example:

Наверное, ты прав. = Perhaps, you are right. ("You are right." is complete without "наверное")
Ты, наверное, шутишь. = You are probably joking. ("Ты шутишь." is complete)

In most other situations, "наверное" is used to show certainty. But it often loses the last letter and turns into наверно. For example:

Я это знаю наверно. = I know this for sure.

answered Jan 16, 2013 by Alex (13,670 points)
selected Jan 16, 2013 by strochka