There are two sentences:

Police believe my neighbor robbed a bank.He is a/an ..........

She stole the money.She was......... of the crime.

I think for firat sentence we should use "guilty" and for second one "suspect". Because suspect of the crime make more sense than guilty of the crime.but I am not sure. On the other hand I think we use suspect when we are not sure who is the criminal.In the first sentence if the word 'believe' means polices are not completely sure the answer to first one should be suspect and second one guilty.

  • 3
    Your second thoughts are the correct ones. Suspect of the crime is not correct English - it would need to be suspected - but if the woman stole the money it is not the right choice. If you are a beginner with English you would do better to use the English Language Learners forum, ell.stackexchange.com/questions Jan 12, 2021 at 9:07
  • @Kate Bunting Thank you very much for the answer.
    – Etemon
    Jan 12, 2021 at 9:13

2 Answers 2


@Kate Bunting from the comments already did a good job clarifying your confusions, so I will just provide extra validation.

From your first sentence, I see that before the blank there is a determiner, the "a/an"; only "suspect" would fit here, and uses determiner "a"; "suspect" is a noun, and that is what the blank would require, since a noun is marked by a determiner, and not the adjective "guilty."

The second sentence, on the other hand, has "She was" before the blank, and "suspect" certainly would not fit here, at least, not in correct English ("she was suspect" is broken and just unnatural English). "Guilty" has to be used here by default, since it is an adjective, and that can be used to describe what someone was from before.

  • Kate confined her response to a comment because we don't want to encourage questions too basic for ELU. Jan 12, 2021 at 11:21
  • I used fundamental ideas in English grammar to conclude what I did, however...are you saying that I should include a citation for my information on the grammar rules? With this, word definitions that I myself am deriving the meaning of "guilty" and "suspect" from?
    – BigRigz
    Jan 19, 2021 at 9:33
  • I'm saying this question should be close-voted on ELU, not answered. Jan 19, 2021 at 17:19

If the police merely believe the neighbour did it, that is not proof that the neighbour did it. The neighbour is therefore not guilty, but is only a suspect.

Suspect = noun. one that is suspected. especially : a person suspected of a crime

Merriam Webster

“She stole the money” is a statement of fact. We have to take that statement as the only context for what follows, which is that she was guilty of that crime.

Guilty = Responsible for breaking a law

Cambridge dictionary

  • BigRigz is probably unaware of the aim to keep ELL-level questions on ELL (I'm assuming they don't require reasonable research, in which case this would also be inappropriate there). I've upvoted Kate's response. Jan 12, 2021 at 11:26

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