I have trouble in understanding the meaning or the implication of "seven to four" in this sentence. I could not get any related explanation in the dictionary.
My guess is: I would volunteer to work for a free day just to see that look on Will again?? But why seven to four? If not, Could anyone help please?

The context is:

“I” am a medical carer of Will who is a quadriplegic in wheelchair, and I took care of him for two years and saw him in a lot pain. Louisa is Will's new carer recently hired. The two had just come back from a wedding reception the day before, and had spent the night in a hotel, only because both of them got so drunk on the wedding and nothing else happened( Will is a quadriplegic). The conspiracy in the text is referring to a trip the two persons are planning and later they were asking if "I" could go with them.

Here is the sentence:

Louisa looked a bit shaken but he had gone over and murmured something to her, and that was the point at which I saw it. She went kind of pink and laughed, the kind of laugh you do when you know you shouldn’t be laughing. The kind of laugh that spoke of a conspiracy. And then Will turned to her and told her to take it easy for the rest of the day. Go home, get changed, maybe catch forty winks.

‘I can’t be walking around the castle with someone who has so clearly just done the walk of shame,’ he said.

‘Walk of shame?’ I couldn’t keep the surprise from my voice.

‘Not that walk of shame,’ Louisa said, flicking me with her scarf, and grabbed her coat to leave.

‘Take the car,’ he called out. ‘It’ll be easier for you to get back.’

I watched Will’s eyes follow her all the way to the back door.

I would have offered you seven to four just on the basis of that look alone.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

  • 2
    On the sole basis of that look on her face, I would have been willing to wager seven dollars to your four dollars that she had just done the "walk of shame". (or 70 dollars to your 40 dollars -- it is merely a ratio). The speaker is expressing a degree of confidence there, since he would stand to lose nearly twice the amount he would gain.
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 10:23
  • This makes it so much easier to understand now:)
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 11:00
  • The only slight technical problem is, the speaker is a medical carer and he fully knows the physical condition of the man in wheelchair who couldn't perform, therefore, I am not sure he is betting on the "walk of shame"(which in the novel didn't happen neither ), could he be betting on that "the man might have a crush on the girl", or could the speaker bet on "something different happed between the two"?:)
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 11:13
  • ‘Not that walk of shame,’ Louisa said, flicking me with her scarf, and grabbed her coat to leave. [my emphasis] By "that look" I assume he's referring to the look on her face when she blushes; she goes "kind of pink".
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 11:45
  • "I watched Will’s eyes follow her all the way to the back door." By "Will's eyes follow her", I assume he's referring to 'the look' as Will's look on her, a kind of look he never had before on her.
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


British people often express a probability as "betting odds". In Britain, and some other countries, it is legal to place bets on whether some future event will happen. The event could be a particular horse winning a race, a football team winning a match, etc. Events are not restricted to sporting activities*. You can bet on. e.g. whether snow will fall somewhere in England on a certain date.

You can ask an individual or company specialising in taking bets (often called "bookmakers") to "give you odds" on the event happening. If they decide they want to take the bet, they quote ("give") you "odds", a figure, expressed as [number] to [number], such as "three to one", "seven to four", etc. These can be written as 3/1 and 7/4. They are the ratio of the amount of money you will win (the "winnings") to the amount you pay to place the bet (the"stake"). You also get the stake back if you win. Bookmakers advertise odds on popular events.

The odds reflect how likely the bookmaker thinks an event is to happen. An unlikely event will get bigger ("longer") odds than a likely one. Thus you might get odds of 1000 to 1 that it will snow in England on August 1st, but 2 to 1 that a well-regarded horse and jockey will win a particular race. Very "short" odds, often less than 2 to 1, means the bookmaker thinks the event is very likely. In the example given, the odds are 7/4, which is the same as 1.75 to 1. Odds are always given as whole numbers. If a bookmaker thinks an event is exceedingly likely to happen, so much so that they don't want to take bets, they will give bets where the ratio of winnings to stake is less than 1 to 1, e.g. three to five (3/5). These are called "on" odds, and described as "three to five on". You would have to bet £5 to get £3 back (plus your stake). An "odds-on favourite" is considered sure to win a race. The expression means something like the American "slam-dunk".

So, the narrator "I" is saying that, based on his understanding of the meaning of the look that Will gave to Louise, something is very likely. Could this be that Will is attracted to Louise?

*In 1964, a British man asked a bookmaking company for odds on whether a human would stand on the moon before January 1971. He was quoted 1000 to 1, and placed a bet of ten UK pounds, equivalent to around $223 in present values. On July 21, 1969, he was paid his winnings live on TV, after Neil Armstrong landed. Now his winnings would be equivalent to around $250,000.

  • YES, he is attracted to her, gradually; and that is what the sentence means! ! finally I got it :) And thank you so much for all the trouble and specific explanation. No words could express my gratitude:)
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    @user86301 Odds of "3 to 1" or "3/1" mean something is likely to happen one time in three. If you are running a betting organization, there is a big jump between "one time in three" and "one time in two" so you need a way to describe values in between those. You could say something like "two and a half to one" but in real life only whole numbers are used, so instead of "two and a half to one" you say "five to two". In your quote, "seven to four" means "four times out of seven" which is a bit more likely than "one time out of two".
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 13:05
  • @alephzero "Odds of "3 to 1" or "3/1" mean something is likely to happen one time in three" -- really? Then 1 to 1 means something is likely to happen every time?
    – Andreas
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 14:25
  • 1
    Bookmaker's odds calculated like this: express the odds with 1 on the right hand side e.g. 3 to 1. Seven to four becomes 1.75 to 1. Now do this calculation, where N is the number on the left hand side: 1/(N+1). Thus odds of 3/1 represent a probability of 1/(3+1) = 0.25, or one chance in four. Odds of 1/1 ("even money") represents a probability of 0.5, or one chance in two. For an explanation of the mathematics of bookmaking, see here Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 14:41
  • The point about bookmaker's odds is that they are not an expression of the true likelihood of an event; bookmakers have to make a profit. Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 16:21

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