"Paul is certain to win the race."

"Paul is certain of winning the race."

What is the difference between these two sentences?

  • The main difference is probably that you should avoid format #2 if you mean sense #1. And if you mean Paul himself is sure he will win, use different phrasing (such as "Paul is confident of winning the race" - or better, "Paul is confident he will win the race"). – FumbleFingers Dec 12 '13 at 22:30
up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Paul is certain to win the race" means the same as "The people who know Paul are certain that he will win the race", or "It is certain that Paul will win the race."

"Paul is certain of winning the race" means the same as "Paul, himself, is certain that he will win the race."

  • Not my downvote, but I'm guessing someone thinks #2 isn't even standard English today. I think your distinction is correct, but there's no doubt the usage is in decline, probably because of the potential for being misunderstood (though it's the same with sure, which somewhat surprised me). – FumbleFingers Dec 12 '13 at 22:26

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