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I have wanted to point this out for some time, because I find it interesting and I want to get credit for noticing it, not because it is an amazing revelation or something. 

Have you ever noticed that these two phrases mean something different in normal parlance than they do when taken literally?

(A) I’m sure

(B) I guess 

These two pairs of words, at face value, mean quite different things, but the way we uses them when in normal conversation, they mean what the other phrase does when taken literally. 

So taken literally, “I’m sure” means “I am certain” and “I guess” means “I think this is true, but I am not certain” 

But look how they are normally used: “Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure Jerry will be here on time” You see? The speaker is not, in fact, certain that it is true, but thinks and hopes it will be true. 

“Nope, Jerry isn’t going to be here this evening <Jerry walks in> I guess he is” Here, when he says “I guess” the speaker is certain, despite the literal meaning of the words used.  

Isn’t that interesting, nay fascinating? 

Pointing out Linguistic Oddities – yet another function of the Responsible Puppet.

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  • Dads, as you communicate with your kids, have you considered your positive word to negative word ratio yet? You should probably do that. 5 days ago
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