Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 8: 5/22

(おそ)らく

Probably, Perhaps, (Most) likely, (I) fear that

Structure

おそらく + Phrase

Details

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    Formal

  • 使用域

    硬い

About おそらく

(おそ)らく is an adverb which originally stems from the conjugation of the yodan verb, (おそ)る 'to fear'. In most cases, (おそ)らく is simply used as a formal way to say 'probably', or 'perhaps', and is usually partnered with other structures of conjecture such as だろう, かもしれない, etc.
As (おそ)らく behaves adverbially, it will most often appear at the beginning of sentences before a statement of conjecture is made.
  • (つま)今夜(こんや)会社(かいしゃ)(ひと)たちと()(かい)()くと()っていたので、おそらく11()ごろぐらいまでは(かえ)ってこないと(おも)います。
    My wife said she was going to a drinking party tonight with some people from work, so she probably won't be home until around 11:00 or so.
  • あいつの不自然(ふしぜん)行動(こうどう)からして、おそらくあいつが犯人(はんにん)だろう!
    Judging by that guy's unnatural behavior, he's probably the culprit!
  • おそらく明日(あした)(あめ)かもしれないので、明日(あひた)予定(よてい)していたピクニックは中止(ちゅうし)しましょう。
    Perhaps it may rain tomorrow, so let's cancel the picnic we had planned for tomorrow.
Although (おそ)らく can, and often does, carry the meaning of 'I fear that (A)', it isn't necessarily always used in relation to negative things. In the case of this particular grammar pattern, the main nuance that 'I fear that (A)' conveys is modesty on behalf of the speaker in that they fear their assumption may be right, given the available information.
Fun-fact - yodan, or 四段活用(よだんかつよう) verbs are a type of classical-Japanese verb that have primarily been replaced by godan (う-Verbs) in modern day Japanese.

Examples

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    (おそ)らく(かれ)はここにいないだろう。

    He most likely isn't here.

    (おそ)らく明日(あした)(あめ)()る。

    Perhaps it will rain tomorrow. (I fear that...)

    (かれ)だったら、(おそ)らくこんなことできっこないでしょう。

    If it's him, he most likely won't be able to do it. (I fear that...)

    (わたし)(あに)(おそ)らく11(がつ)(ごろ)アメリカから(かえ)ってくるでしょう。

    My older brother will probably return home from the US around November.

    代表(だいひょう)(しゃ)によりますと大統領(だいとうりょう)(おそ)らく再選(さいせん)にねらうまい。

    According to a representative, the president will most likely not aim for re-election.

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