Adverb placement and probability

Just a weird and somehow illuminating syntactic trip-up:  per the odds of the moment at 538, it is correct to say both that

England, the United States, and Slovenia will all probably advance

and

England, the United States, and Slovenia will definitely not all advance.

There’s no paradox here, just a reminder to take care about the ambiguity in English-language descriptions of probabilities.

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One thought on “Adverb placement and probability

  1. Anon says:

    While I agree with what you say, I would never use the former in such a way that it does not contradict the later. To say what you mean by the former, I would replace all with each: “each of … will probably …” I read the former as “The probability that all will advance is >1/2,” which is contradicted by the later.

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