Does the sentence: "I am positive." mean "I am sure 100 percent"?

  • 3
    Can it mean that? Sure, I am positive that it can. Will it always mean that? Heck, no. Conceivably, some schoolchildren could be putting on a play about the safe way to jump start an automobile, and one kid might have a line like: "I am positive. Put the red cable on me." I don't want to be negative (after all, I try to be a pretty positive person), but I'm pretty sure it can mean a lot of different things.
    – J.R.
    Jan 6 '15 at 16:02
  • Ha! True, J.R., but I think that in the example you mention, the schoolchild is 100% sure that their idea will work. They are sorely mistaken, of course, but their confidence is high.
    – michelle
    Jan 6 '15 at 16:37
  • It can also be used in a medical/pharmaceutical context: he tested positive for Hepatitis B. Jan 6 '15 at 18:02
  • I did not understand you well @J.R. Did you all mean that in informal English "I'm positive" can imply "I'm sure 100 percent"?
    – A-friend
    Jan 6 '15 at 18:04
  • 1
    Aw, come on guys. People posting questions presumably are having trouble with their English. Making puns isn't going to help. If you're going to make a joke answer, I think you should at least indicate that it's a joke so the questioner is not confused.
    – Jay
    Jan 6 '15 at 18:18

Basically, yes. We could quibble whether someone might say "I am positive" when they are only 95% certain or 90% certain. But it indicates a very high degree of confidence, 100% or nearly so.

As some of the commenters have said, yes, "positive" has other definitions besides expressing certainty. It can refer to electrical charge, as in, "the positive terminal of the battery". It can also mean that the outcome of a test or experiment was "yes", as in, "The results of his hepatitis test were positive" or "He showed positive for the ebola virus." It can also mean "good" or "promising", as in, "We tried using an aluminum alloy and got some very positive results."

  • Thank you very much Jay for the concern and your good intention. I knew all the other usages excepting this one. Nevertheless, thank you again. It was really helpful. :)
    – A-friend
    Jan 7 '15 at 8:35

Don't get into the subtlety of 'percentages'. They always confuse us especially when we talk about human behavior and not figures.

But yes, when you say, "I am positive", you are pretty sure about something. At least WordWebOnline and OALD agree with you! :)

positive (#2) - very sure


positive (of a person) - Under the title Sure, Definite


I agree with Jay's answer.

"I am positive" also implies that the speaker (probably) has "positive knowledge" that <something> is true. In other words, the speaker has either seen <something> themselves, or heard about it from a very reliable source. The speaker is not just guessing that something is true because some other possibilities they can think of are not true. The speaker is not just passing along "an urban legend".

I included the "(probably)" weasel word because some people do not understand the concept of "positive knowledge".

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