We can"t assign a percentage of certainty lớn it, but it isn"t cđại bại khổng lồ 100%. Perhaps 60-85% certain is cthua kém to lớn what it means for most native sầu speakers. The more emphatic the statement (bít tất tay và pitch & volume are involved, because this is primarily spoken English, but in written English it might be underlined or in bold fonts or in capital letters for emphasis), the more certain the speaker/writer is. I"m quite sure probably means about 90-100% certain, however.
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mcalex: I'd have sầu khổng lồ hear it spoken. High pitch & stress on "pretty" indicates less certainty in my idiolect. But I agree that not everyone will assign the same % of certainty khổng lồ the expression. I think so is almost an equivalent expression for me, but probably closer to 50-50. –user264 Feb 7 "13 at 13:09
J.R.: Yes, I agree that there's no consensus. Yesterday I said the same thing about how many Xs someone who says "a couple of Xs" or "a few Xs" means. Anywhere from 2-5, perhaps. There are no definitive definitions khổng lồ parade on the EL&U runway that'll settle the point. –user264 Feb 7 "13 at 16:10
Bill_Franke"s answer already having more than 10 upvotes. I think Bill"s answer is likely a perfectly correct representation of the usage of pretty sure in American English but I speak British English & lớn me it means something different.
Per the OED:
a. Qualifying an adjective sầu or adverb: khổng lồ a considerable extent; fairly, moderately; rather, quite. In later use also: very.
Whilst I would underst& the to lớn a considerable extent meaning, given context and intonation, my mặc định would be khổng lồ assume this later use of very. Further, if I were to lớn say she"s pretty good looking or, for our current question, I"m pretty sure I could drive that van, these would mean she"s gorgeous or I can definitely drive that van, no question.
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b. pretty much: almost, very nearly; more or less; (also, in early use) very much, considerably.
Whilst this definition is specific khổng lồ pretty much, I see it as very synonymous with pretty sure. The phrase I"ve sầu pretty much finished work would imply, khổng lồ me, that only a few moments" work is left. The phrase I"m pretty sure Adam finished work by now means that I would be very surprised if Adam had not finished work.
Finally, pretty sure can be used as a form of politeness or disingenuous courtesy. I"m pretty sure that"s not how you vì chưng it may be seen as a nicer alternative sầu lớn Wrong!, & I"m pretty sure you"ll find that"s not the case is somewhat less friendly, though more socially acceptable.
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In brief, I believe that in British English, pretty sure would generally be taken to lớn mean certain, or at least 90% cthảm bại khổng lồ certain. I currently live sầu in the USA and this is often a source of confusion.
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