The speaker's friend is not as good as the other contestant. And she is encouraging her to practise. Then she says this sentence.

I'm sure you'll be able to tie with Jane.

I am confused if the speaker is certain that the contest would be a tie or is just giving hope to his friend.

  • Yes, hilariously, in English, people often say "I'm sure that..." exactly when they aren't sure.
    – cruthers
    Dec 15, 2021 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


It depends on intonation. You can't tell just from the writing whether the speaker intends "I'm sure" as a certainty or just as optimism.

To analyze it another way, through the Gricean conversational maxims, "I'm sure" can be read as a hedge of the maxim of truth because it concedes that the information is subjective. Or, in plain English, "I'm sure" means you're saying it's your feeling, not a fact.

According to this reading, "I'm sure" is actually less certain. You can now guess which of these is more assertive:

I'm sure you'll tie with Jane.

You'll tie with Jane.

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