Main Difference – Inference and Prediction
Both Prediction and Inference refer to guessing what happens in the future, and these two terms are most often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between Prediction and Inference. The main difference between inference and prediction is that prediction is foretelling a future event or an occurrence whereas, inference is also a similar concept, but here the future event or occurrence is inferred by analyzing the evidence and facts. Both these concepts are used as techniques in language teaching, especially in doing reading comprehensions.
What is Inference
Inference is arriving at a conclusion after logically analyzing the evidence and facts. It is a theory formed around implicit analysis based on evidence and clues.
For example, imagine that you are asked to guess the direction of the plot of the novel you are studying in class. Here, your answer will be based on the nature of the characters, the plot so far, information about the author, etc. That is to say, in this instance, characters, plot, setting, tone, etc. of the novel act as clues to help you to infer. This technique is often used in teaching language in classrooms.
When we talk about inference and reading, a good reader always read between the lines and infer what happens next in a book.
What is Prediction
Prediction is a forecast about a future event or a happening. This is similar to foretelling. A prediction is not generally based on evidence or clues. This can be based on past experience or reasoning.
This technique is also widely used in reading comprehension passages. The students are asked to look at the title/heading of the passage and guess what the passage is about. Here, the students are making predictions without proper information.
What is the difference between Inference and Prediction
Inference: Inference is forecasting about a future event with the help of available evidence.
Prediction: Prediction is a forecast about future.
Inference: A future event is inferred from looking at the evidence i.e. available information.
Prediction: No such information is available for prediction.
Inference: A conclusion is reached after logically analyzing the evidence.
Prediction: A conclusion is reached without evidence.
Inference: A good reader always uses inference in reading.
Prediction: Prediction is not used if you intend to read the whole document/book.
Lady Bird Johnson Visiting a Classroom for Project Head Start 1966” by White House Photograph Office, Robert L. Knudsen [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons