Differences between Probability and Possibility

As anyone can imagine, probability and possibility are two terms that are often used as synonymous words to refer to the expectation that an event will occur, that is, to refer to something that can happen. However, they are different terms that should not be used interchangeably, which is why in this article we will point out the differences between probability and possibility based on their definitions.


To begin with, the word probability has its etymological origin in the Latin -probabilĭtas-, which refers to what -can happen-. In this way, probability is a situation that can happen or that is more likely to happen, based on evidence or reasons that support it.

From what was said above, it follows that the probability is based on evidence, which supports the situation happening, therefore, the possibility of the fact happening is greater. The probable then refers to a contingent event about which there are good reasons to think that it will happen.

Likewise, for an event to be probable, it must first be possible, that is, it may or may not be executed or happen. Finally, the probability can be exemplified as follows:

-On a fairly cloudy day it is likely to rain, since cloudiness can imply precipitation-


The word possibility has its etymological origin in the Latin -possibilĭtas-, which refers to the ability of something to exist or not. In this sense, it can be said that possibility is a situation that may or may not happen or be executed and it is not known whether it will or not. Likewise, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE), possibility is the aptitude, power or opportunity to be or exist something. Possibility is then a circumstance or occasion that a thing exists, happens or can be done and therefore, what is possible is what can be or exist.

On the other hand, it is a potentiality in which the different changes that can occur during the development of something in question, matter, and that will be influenced by the corresponding circumstances in which it is carried out, are expressed. From there it follows, then, that what is possible is any event that can occur and is based on hypotheses or suppositions that may or may not occur in a situation or case, but that it is not necessarily probable, therefore, for something to be possible there is no it has to be likely.

To conclude, the possibility is exemplified as follows:

-In a soccer game there are three possibilities: that the local team wins, that there is a tie or that the visiting team wins. Therefore, there is no other possibility, that is, it is not possible for the match to end with another result other than the three possibilities mentioned.-

Based on the above definitions and examples, the following differences can be noted:

  • The probability speaks of the feasibility of something happening while the possibility speaks of the potentiality of something happening.
  • Probability is based on evidence while possibility is based on hypotheses and assumptions.
  • For something to be probable it must first be possible, while for something to be possible it does not necessarily have to be probable.

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