Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is the difference between “I guess” and “I think” and “I suppose” in English?

Find out in today’s episode plus get two bonus phrases that mean the same thing!

Here is a question from a listener:

I know there’s a lesson #442 about a word ‘guess’ and ‘reckon’.  I’d like to know more about a word ‘guess’ as when I’m unsure, I start a sentence with ‘I guess’.  I was told (by Englishman) that it’s better to say ‘I think’. Unfortunately I do not remember the whole sentence as this happened some years ago. Could you please clarify, if there’s any difference between words I guess, I think, I suppose, I’d say in American culture? Are these words synonyms or are there some subtle difference? Maybe a topic for another episode, maybe not. Thanks for your podcast!!!


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“I reckon”

I reckon is not really modern. In New York City and Boston we don’t hear it.

We have heard it being used a few times by Australians.

We have also heard it being used on Western TV sitcoms in American culture but it’s not used in a conversational way these days.


“I think”

This sounds more sure than “I guess.”

It can also be used to express your opinion.

“I think so but I’m not sure”

“I think the restaurant is open now. We should go this weekend!”

*This can have a negative form such as “I don’t think we should go this weekend.”


“I guess”

This phrase is more like, “don’t ask me, what do I know?”

It gives us a sense that the person is admitting defeat and being less sure.

“Ugh there are no cabs. I guess we should take the train.”


“I suppose”

This is more formal sounding. It’s a more formal version of “I guess.”

“I suppose we could catch the matinee at 1pm, but I enjoy the evening shows better.”


Additional phrases:

  • “I have a feeling”:  “I have a feeling that she will call later. She always calls me on Tuesdays!”
  • “I’m pretty sure that…”:  “I’m pretty sure that this is where he lives. I remember going there when I was younger.”


Today we have given you a bunch of new expressions that you can try using immediately.

Go out there and use these and then come back and let us know how it goes!

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