apt, liable, prone
1. Used with to, prone is by far the most common statistically, liable comes second, and apt, perhaps surprisingly, trails in third place.
2. Apt to and liable to, followed by an infinitive, are virtually interchangeable, except that liable carries a greater notion of responsibility for the result, which is generally implied to be undesirable. Examples:

• Pick up any ‘documentation’…and you are apt to be…bombarded by gibberish —New York Times, 1982

• Given that it's the exam season, I'm apt to be distracted by just about anything —weblog, BrE 2005 [OEC].

In this use, apt to is tending to force out the alternative prone to, although this is still used in relation to habits and continual actions:

• The one unquestionable advantage of the multiflora stock is the fact that it is less prone to throw up suckers than any of the others —N. Young, 1971.

3. Liable to and prone to, unlike apt to, can be followed by a simple object, and in this use liable to also has the meaning ‘subject to (a penalty)’:

• The affected children themselves are liable to behavioural problems such as temper tantrums —Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1980

• Anyone convicted of giving away examination papers to candidates will be liable to two years in jail —Daily Telegraph, 1982.

Both words can usefully be followed by a verbal noun in -ing

• (EB…makes her skin as fragile as a butterfly's wing and prone to blistering —Manchester Evening News, 2003).

4. Likely to, followed by an infinitive, is more neutral than the other words in fitting well into favourable as well as unfavourable contexts. It is also far more common than the other three put together:

• A plan to help young home-buyers is likely to be announced within the next week —Times, 1973

• For the parents of teenagers who are likely to have encounters with the police, the teenage years can be a nightmare —BBC Parenting, 2004.

1. for prone to see apt.
2. In its meaning ‘lying face down’, prone contrasts with supine, which means ‘lying face up’.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • prône — prône …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • prôné — prôné …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • prône — [ pron ] n. m. • 1420; prosne « grille séparant le chœur de la nef » 1175; lat. pop. °protinum, class. protirum; gr. prothura « couloir » ♦ Relig. Discours de piété qu un prêtre fait à la messe paroissiale du dimanche. ⇒ homélie, prêche, sermon.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • prone — [prəun US proun] adj [Date: 1400 1500; : Latin; Origin: pronus] 1.) likely to do something or suffer from something, especially something bad or harmful prone to ▪ Some plants are very prone to disease. prone to do sth ▪ Kids are all prone to eat …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Prone — Prone, a. [L. pronus, akin to Gr. ?, ?, Skr. pravana sloping, inclined, and also to L. pro forward, for. See {Pro }.] [1913 Webster] 1. Bending forward; inclined; not erect. [1913 Webster] Towards him they bend With awful reverence prone. Milton …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prone — [ proun ] adjective * 1. ) likely to do something or be affected by something, especially something bad: prone to: The coastal region is prone to earthquakes. prone to do something: He s prone to gain weight. error /injury prone: an injury prone… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Prone — Prône Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sommaire 1 Domaine religieux 2 Domaine littéraire 3 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • prone — 1 subject, exposed, open, iiable, susceptible, sensitive Analogous words: inclined, predisposed, disposed (see INCLINE vb): addicted, habituated, accustomed (see HABITUATE) 2 Prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent, couchant, dormant are comparable… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • prone´ly — prone «prohn», adjective. 1. inclined; liable: »We are prone to think evil of people we don t like. SYNONYM(S): disposed, apt. 2. lying face down: »to be prone on a bed. 3. lying flat: » …   Useful english dictionary

  • prone — [prōn] adj. [ME < L pronus < pro, before: see PRO 1] 1. lying or leaning face downward 2. lying flat or prostrate; in a horizontal position 3. having a natural bent; disposed or inclined (to) [prone to error] 4. groveling; abject …   English World dictionary

  • prone — prone; prone·ly; prone·ness; …   English syllables