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Supposably

Supposably is usually wrong; supposedly is usually the word you want. Find out which one you need.

By
Mignon Fogarty,

 

It would be much easier if I could tell you that supposably isn't a word, but I can't. It is a word, but the problem is that supposably doesn't mean the same thing as supposedly and most people use it incorrectly.

The word you usually want is supposedly, which means roughly "assumed to be true" and almost always includes a hint of sarcasm or disbelief:

  • Supposedly, he canceled our date because of a family emergency.

  • She supposedly sent the check, but it was lost in the mail.

Supposably means "supposable," "conceivable," or "arguably." It is only a valid word in American English; the British wisely refuse to accept it.

 

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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