English for Intermediate Students - CEFR B2 - Lesson 25 of 25

Possibility and Likelihood

Read and listen to four conversations using the grammar.


Conversation 1

Man: So, have you heard any news about the Tokyo Olympics?
Woman: Yes, now it seems highly likely that it will take place.
Man: Will tourists be allowed in the country?
Woman: That is unlikely, but some people might get access.
Man: Where will the athletes stay?
Woman: Well, there is a slight possibility there will be an Olympic village.
Man: Oh, what is the likelihood of that?
Woman: It's highly unlikely, but the organizers are leaving the possibility open.
Man: I see. How likely is it that local residents can attend the games?
Woman: There is a strong possibility that can happen, but protocols must be met.
Man: Well, it's a given that the games will be on TV. So at least we have that.
Woman: Yes, fingers crossed it all goes well.

Conversation 2

Man: So, did you hear the news?
Woman: No, what did you hear?
Man: The company is going to merge with our biggest competitor.
Woman: What does that mean for the company? How will that affect us?
Man: Well, it is unlikely that anyone will lose their job, but it is very likely we will move offices.
Woman: Oh, no. I quite like it here.
Man: Well, I hear there is a slight possibility that some people will be able to work from home.
Woman: How likely is that? I would love to work from home.
Man: Well, it's fairly likely but don't quote me on it.
Woman: What is the likelihood that we change the company name?
Man: It is a slight possibility but I don't see that happening ... yet.
Woman: It would be foolish to do that. We have a well-known brand name and a catchy logo.
Man: I agree. Anyway, it is highly unlikely there will be any changes anytime soon.
Woman: Change is good I guess. That's what they say.
Man: Yes, only time will tell.

Conversation 3

Woman: So professor, when do you think we will have face-to-face classes again?
Man: I'm not sure, but it seems very likely things will be back to normal in the fall semester.
Woman: What about next semester?
Man: Well, anything is possible, but it seems unlikely to go back to being back to face-to-face.
Woman: And what about the campus? What is the likelihood that the campus is open once again?
Man: Again, I don't know for sure, but I think there is a strong possibility that it will be open.
Woman: And what about you, professor? Will you be teaching on campus or at home?
Man: Again, I just don't know. Everything is still up in the air.
Woman: OK, professor. Thanks for answering my questions.

Conversation 4

Man: So, who is going to be at the party tonight?
Woman: Well, it's likely that most people will be there.
Man: Are we expecting any no-shows?
Woman: Well, it's unlikely that Susan and her family will be there.
Man: What about Tom and his family? Can they make it?
Woman: Well, they have a new baby, but they said there is a slight chance they will come. It all depends on the baby.
Man: In other words, it is highly unlikely.
Woman: Yes, that's probably true.

Expressing Likelihood an Doubt

Point 1: Speakers can hedge their statements by adding a clause to express probability. The pronoun 'it' becomes the subject,
  • We probably will not finish on time.
    It is unlikely that we will finish on time.
  • We will probably reach our goal.
    It's highly likely that we will reach out goal.
Point 2: If something is probable, then it is likely.
  • The company will probably go bankrupt.
    It is highly likely the company will go bankrupt.
  • Most students should pass the class.
    It is very likely that most students will pass the class.
Point 3: If something is not probable, then use unlikely or not likely.
  • The event is in winter, so it probably not be warm outside.
    The event is in winter, so it is unlikely it will be warm outside.
  • By the end of the money, most of my money will probably be spent.
    By the end of the month, it is unlikely that I will have any money left.
Point 4: Something adverbs highly (strong) and fairly (medium) add intensity.
  1. It is highly unlikely that we finish by tomorrow. (low chance)
  2. It is highly likely that the two companies merge. (strong chance)
  3. It is fairly likely that the event will be canceled. (might happen)
  4. It is fairly unlikely that that will happen. (probably not)
Point 5: Likelihood is also expressed with the nouns chance, possibility, and doubt.
  1. There is a good chance it will rain.
  2. There is a strong possibility that we can work from home.
  3. There is a slight possibility that I get transferred
  4. There is no doubt that people want to travel again.
Answer these questions about the interview.


More Grammar Conversations for Intermediate Students (2)

Grammar Listening Practice

B2-21 Although / While / Though
B2-21 Although / While / Though
While the pay is great, the hours are very long

B2-22 Present Perfect Passive
B2-22 Present Perfect Passive
The hotel has been booked, and the invitations have been sent out.

B2-23 Future Perfect
B2-23 Future Perfect
I'll have been married 18 years next week.

B2-24 Future Perfect in the Past
B2-24 Future Perfect in the Past
No, it will have closed by now.

B2-25 Possibility and Likelihood
B2-25 Possibility and Likelihood
Well, it is unlikely anyone will lose their job.

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