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General Writing and Grammar Help/usage of the word "likelihood"

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Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I could use the word "likelihood" in combination with the following words. In other words, do the following sentences make sense and are they grammatically correct?
1. There's a high likelihood he's telling the truth.
2. There's a fair likelihood he's telling the truth.
3. There's a low likelihood he's telling the truth.
4. There's a good likelihood he's telling the truth.
5. What's the likelihood he's telling the truth?

Answer
Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if I could use the word "likelihood" in combination with the
following words. In other words, do the following sentences make sense and are
they grammatically correct?
1. There's a high likelihood he's telling the truth.
2. There's a fair likelihood he's telling the truth.
3. There's a low likelihood he's telling the truth.
4. There's a good likelihood he's telling the truth.
5. What's the likelihood he's telling the truth?

*** A synonym for "likelihood" is "chance."  Sentences 2, 4, and 5 are perfectly reasonable.  Both "likelihood" and "chance" fit the sentences.

Although sentences 1 and 3 are grammatically correct, I question using them as you have done in your examples.  For instance, "There's a good chance/likelihood" sounds [as is] correct.  But, I have never heard "a high chance" or "a low chance."  They are CORRECT, but they are not commonly used.  Of your five examples, #5 is the best.  #4 comes next. And, finally, I would rank #2.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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