Sometimes, you want to say something that you're not 100% sure of. In these situations, here are five expressions you can use instead of "I think."
1. I’d say …
"I'd say" is short for "I would say." It means "Based on what I know, I think ... ." When we say "I'd say," we do not know something for sure, but we think we have a good reason for our opinion or guess.
For example, here is a dialogue from one of our IELTS lessons that uses "I'd say."
In this dialogue, Jessica uses "I'd say" because she is not 100% sure how many of her friends have cats and dogs. She is making an estimate based on her memory. In other words, she is saying "From what I know, it seems that most of my friends have cats, and one or two have dogs."
Here are some more examples that use "I'd say."
- Is it faster to drive to New York or to take the train?
It depends on the traffic, but I'd say driving is usually faster.
- Do you think Sarah enjoyed the party?
I'd say so. She was the last to leave! ["I'd say so" = "I'd say she did."]
2. I'd imagine ...
"I'd imagine" (or "I would imagine") means "I don't have proof, but I think ... ."
Here is a dialogue from an IELTS lesson that uses "I'd imagine." Zach has just told the examiner that he would like to become an actor.
Because Zach is not an actor (and he does not seem to know anyone who is), there is no way for him to know how much actors work each week. So when he says "I'd imagine the hours would be quite flexible," he means "(While I don't actually have an idea), I think it's likely that actors have flexible work hours."
Here are some example sentences where "I'd imagine" is used to make guesses about things the speaker doesn't know much about.
- I'd imagine a therapist will be able to help you sort out your problems. [= I've never seen a therapist myself, but I think it's likely that you would benefit from seeing one.]
- I'd imagine that the words "poke" and "poker" are related in some way. [= I haven't looked this up, but I think it's likely they're related.]
3. I like to think that ...
"I like to think that ... " means "I'm not sure if other people agree, but I think ... ." When we say "I like to think that," we express something between an opinion and a hope.
Check out the following dialogue from an IELTS lesson that uses "I like to think that."
In this dialogue, Liam says "I like to think that I get along well with most of my family" because he cannot be sure that his family feels the same way. However, he thinks and hopes that they agree with his statement.
Here are some more examples that use "I like to think that."
- I like to think that I'm a good friend. [= I think I'm a good friend and I hope my friends agree.]
- I like to think that our company's products have changed the world. [= I think our products have changed the world and I hope others agree.]
4. I can see …
"I can see" means "I don't know for sure, but I think ... ." Here is a dialogue from an IELTS lesson that uses this phrase.
Here, Ling is making a guess about the future. She does not know for sure what will happen, but she thinks AI will probably be used in the classroom. To her, this makes sense and seems likely, which is why she uses the phrase "I can definitely see ... ."
Here are some more example sentences that use this phrase.
- Do you think you'd enjoy studying astronomy?
Yeah, I can see myself enjoying it. I've always been fascinated by the stars. [= I think I would enjoy it.]
- Do you think the stock market will crash next year?
I can see that happening next year — maybe even this year.
Note that the verb after "I can see" must be in the -ing form.
- I can see that
- I can see that
5. My understanding is that ...
"My understanding is that ... " means "Based on what I've learned, it seems that ... ." This is a good way to say "I think" without saying "I."
When Zach says "my understanding is that ... ," he hints that he does not know for sure, but he remembers learning somewhere that 90% of start-ups fail. He may have read this in news reports or heard this from friends who work at start-ups. Even if he is not 100% sure of himself, he sounds knowledgeable when he uses this phrase.
Here are some more examples that use "my understanding is that ... ."
- I don't have a background in economics, but my understanding is that higher interest rates slow down inflation.
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that eating too much red meat is linked to cancer.
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