Probably Vs Probly: Which Is It?

If it’s one thing we’ve learned about the English Language is that it is never spelled the way it’s pronounced. Neither is it pronounced the way it’s spelled. When you’re asked how do you spell probably, you may do the first or the latter.

The Correct Form Is “probably”

If you are talking about the possibility of something happening, then the word you are trying to spell is “probably”. If you’ve seen “prolly”, or “probly”, these are the results of mispronunciations.

A History of “probably”

In the 1520s, “probably” became well-known. It is formed from the word “probable” and the suffix -ly, which is used to make it into an adverb.

This is a similar situation to the word “accidentally” being misspelled as “accidently”

The word you have heard aloud may have been mistaken for something else entirely. Many people shorten the pronunciation of the word, so it’s tempting to spell it accidently.

However, imagine you are using the adjective form of the word accident. This is “accidental”. If you make it an adverb by adding “ly”, it’s supposed to be spelled “accidentally”

Because of this rule, the correct spelling cannot be “accidently”.

Photo by Nathaniel Shuman on Unsplash

How Do You Spell Probably

The same rules apply in the case of “probable”. Probable is an adjective. If you need to describe the adjective more fully, you use an adverb.

The adverb form of probable is “probably”. You get this from adding the “ly”. Observing this, you can see why “probly” and “prolly” are not correct spellings.

Word Origins – Probably

Probably has its roots in Latin where the spelling resembles its modern form. The Latin root for probably is probare, which means to prove. The modern spelling is most likely a result of the Anglicization of the language.

To Wrap Up

How do you spell probably? You should take a page from the formal rules of English. Don’t be guided by mispronunciations. Also, when in doubt, try to work out what part of speech the word is.

If all else fails, consult a cross section of dictionaries and grammar text before you go with a final spelling.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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