Probability and possibility are both used as nouns and can’t be used interchangeably. Although they have almost the same meanings, there is a little difference. Probability means something may happen, but it is more likely to happen. Meanwhile, possibility means something may happen, but we don’t know how likely. It describes the uncertainty of whether an event may or may not happen.
Therefore, probability has a higher chance that an event will likely happen, compared to possibility that’s uncertain whether something may happen or may not happen.
When to Use Probability
We use probability as a noun when referring to the chance that something will happen, and is sometimes calculated mathematically. It has two definitions. First, it means how likely something is. Second, it refers to the chance that a given event will occur and will probably happen.
Meaning to say, if something is probable, then it is likely to happen. Hence, the word probability is often used when talking about something that has a greater chance of happening.
The level of certainty of something happening
The probability of winning the raffle is very low.
There is a 90% probability that the operation will succeed without complications.
There is a high probability that her son will use a coarse language when talking to older people.
The chance that something will likely happen
The probability is that local businesses will benefit more from the new law.
Not resorting to violence is now a probability rather than a possibility.
Based on the studies, there’s a high probability that the virus can be transmitted.
When to Use Possibility
We use possibility when referring to the capability of something happening. It describes an event that is either possible or not. There’s no certainty whether something will or will not happen. Another definition of possibility is it refers to an opportunity to do something or something that can be done.
A chance that something may happen
There is a possibility that it will rain in the afternoon.
Due to the company’s increased revenue, hiring more employees is now a possibility.
The doctors are considering the possibility that the disease may be curable.
An opportunity to do something
We need to check all the possibilities for helping less unfortunate people.
There could have been great possibilities when Segway scooters were still popular.
The rescuers will not stop until they exhaust all the possibilities of saving people.
Probability vs. Possibility: Which One Is Correct?
Probability and possibility are both correct and have similar meanings, but there is a slight difference. Probability means something may happen, but it is more likely to happen. On the other hand, possibility means something may happen, but the likelihood is not determined.
Moreover, they are both used as nouns and can’t be used interchangeably. To remember which one to use, possibility deals with the ability for something to occur without predicting whether it will or won’t, while probability suggests that something is likely to occur.
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Possibility. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/possibility
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Probability. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/probability
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Possibility. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/possibility
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Probability. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/probability
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Possibility. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/possibility
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Probability. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/probability