A paragraph of a sample IELTS essay about the negative effects of telecommunications technology on people's everyday life starts as follows:

It is also likely that people have become increasingly accustomed to living in a world that appreciates convenience and inactivity and they do not want to evade those maxims.

Is this sentence poorly designed in that the writer has used is likely to coupled with the past participle tense, or it is an accepted usage?

I'm not a native, yet the only way I can justify it is, it is likely to was meant, as it were, to connote it is not unfair to say that, it is not far from true to say that or other phrases along with those lines, or else likelihood involves future events and trends, to the best of my knowledge, rather than those having started in the past. Am I right?

1 Answer 1


"It is likely that" simply indicates that what follows these words is seen as a probable situation. Any tense or aspect can follow, for example.:

It is likely that ...

... Luke arrived yesterday.

... Emma is seeing Robin again.

... John will lose his licence.

... the documents have been lost

  • Well, granted, Your examples are immediately understandable, but does it really sit in well in this particular context given that the subsequent sentences of the essay, which I haven't mentioned here, give no sign of likelihood, but show that the writer is sure about people's clear preference for sedentary, inactive lifestyles.
    – Itsme
    Nov 4, 2014 at 11:13
  • It is more likely that I, personally would use 'probably' rather than 'it is likely that' in those particular examples. I probably reserve 'It is likely that' for more formal situations such as "It is likely that we will see an increasing burden of chronic disease risk among the poor (American Journal of Public Health, Feb 2011). I am afraid I don't see what your second sentence has to do with likelihood.
    – tunny
    Nov 4, 2014 at 11:25

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