I have read the following conversation:

—Have you finished your homework? —__. Just half of it.How about you?

The options for the blank are the followings:

A.Not at all
B.Not likely
C.Not a bit
D.Not yet

I will choose the D option. I would like to complement all these options as followings:

Not at all.= I haven't finished my homework at all.

Not a bit. = I haven't finished my homework a bit.

Not yet. = I haven't finished my homework yet.

What confused me most is that I don't know how to complement "Not likely."

Not likely=

(1) I haven't likely finished my homework.

(2) It is not likely to have finished my homework.

Which sentence is correct? Why and why not?

2 Answers 2


I think both of your suggestions sound a little off. I'd suggest

Not likely=

(1) I probably haven't finished my homework.

(2) I don't think so. (with a heavy emphasis on think – to indicate sarcasm, as mentioned in The Photon's answer)

However, I must ask: Did this question come straight from a test? Or did you make it up, or alter it somehow?

It seems unlikely that the phrase "not likely" would be used in the first person, not if we are talking about something that isn't in the future. The word "likely" is used to express a high probability. Therefore, if you ask me whether or not I've finished my homework, either I have finished it, or I haven't – there's no "likely" involved, because there's no uncertainty involved.

I could see the phrase not likely being used in this context (future tense):

Do you think you'll have your homework finished by 10 o'clock?
Not likely. (Meaning: "I probably won't.")

or this context (third person):

Do you think Ariana has finished her homework?
Not likely. (Meaning: "I doubt that she has.")

However, it's very hard to imagine me using "Not likely" as an answer to the question, "Have you finished your homework?" Then again, perhaps that's the point of the question; if it's meant to be an incorrect answer, maybe it's not supposed to sound interpretable.

  • @J.R.It's from a test and correct answer is "Not yet". But I was confused about "not likely".
    – user48070
    Aug 27, 2013 at 8:54
  • @J.R.I think what your answer is right. Thx.
    – user48070
    Aug 27, 2013 at 8:58
  • I think you were right to be confused about "not likely" :^) It is a little confusing in that context.
    – J.R.
    Aug 27, 2013 at 9:42

"Not likely" is used to dismiss a suggestion. It usually has a somewhat emphatic or even rude or sarcastic tone.

Are you going to finish your peas?

Not likely.

  • This is true, although it can also simply mean "there's a very low probability of that happening," sans any rudeness or sarcasm, particularly if we append a word or two before the phrase: "Will we get rain tomorrow? It's not likely."
    – J.R.
    Aug 27, 2013 at 7:30

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