top of page

Possibility vs Probability: The Difference Between The Two

I always get confused between the possibility of an event happening vs the probability of an event. I think a lot of people get confused while describing the possibility vs the probability of an event.

Reasons Why People Get Confused Between Probability & Possibility

There are a few reasons why people might get confused between probability and possibility:

  1. Similar definitions: Both probability and possibility refer to the likelihood or potential for something to happen. This can lead to confusion because the terms are similar in meaning and are often used interchangeably.

  2. Lack of understanding: Some people may not fully understand the difference between probability and possibility, which can lead to confusion when using the terms.

  3. Ambiguity: In some cases, people may use the terms probability and possibility interchangeably without being aware of the difference between them. This can lead to confusion because the terms have different meanings and should not be used interchangeably.

  4. Context: The context in which the terms are used can also contribute to confusion. For example, if someone is discussing the likelihood of an event happening, they might use the term probability, but if they are discussing the potential for something to happen, they might use the term possibility.

Overall, it is important to understand the difference between probability and possibility and to use the terms correctly in order to avoid confusion.

Well...after spending a while on this topic, I think I "finally" understood the main difference...

What Is The Difference Between Probability & Possibility?

A possibility is something we use to describe an event that may or may not happen. And it might not be always possible to calculate how likely the event is to occur. The possibility is the qualitative characteristic of an event's occurrence. For instance, I may find myself winning a lottery today is a possibility. The probability of an event is the likelihood or chance with which that event could occur or happen. Probability is basically the numerical/quantitative characteristic of the likelihood of an event's occurrence.

Therefore, technically, the possibility of any event is always binary (Yes or a no, 1 or 0). If an event is "possible", how likely will its occurrence be, under a given situation, is probability?

Few Examples Of The Actual Difference Between Probability & Possibility

Imagine yourself to be playing a game of rolling the dice, when your brother rolls a die, the possibility of the dice showing up number 5 is 'Yes', and the possibility of showing up number 10 is 'No'. In a situation where the dice is rolled just once, the probability of it showing up as number 5 is 1/6. the main difference is that possibility is qualitative (likelihood), whereas probability is quantitative. So, next time someone chips in the 'probable' word in his sentence, do ask him what he actually meant...(as we now know means it is likely to occur (especially if it is more likely to happen than not).

PS. I may probably not win the lottery anyway.... (even though it could happen I hope) :(

Second Example

Probability and possibility are related but distinct concepts. Probability refers to the likelihood that a particular event will occur, while possibility refers to the potential for something to happen.

For example, consider the following scenario:

  • There is a bag of 10 marbles, 5 of which are red and 5 of which are blue.

In this scenario, the probability of drawing a red marble from the bag is 5/10, or 50%. This means that there is a 50% chance that a red marble will be drawn.

On the other hand, the possibility of drawing a red marble from the bag is 100%, because it is certain that a red marble can be drawn (assuming that the bag contains only red and blue marbles).

So, in this example, the probability of an event (drawing a red marble) is a measure of how likely it is to happen, while the possibility of the event is a measure of whether it can happen at all.

Another way to think about the difference between probability and possibility is that probability is a quantitative measure (it is expressed as a number between 0 and 1), while possibility is a qualitative measure (it is a statement of whether something can or cannot happen).

bottom of page