Presume vs Assume! Presume and assume are two words that have the same root and only differ because they have different prefixes. However, these prefixes play a big role and, as if often happens in the English language, change the meaning of the whole word. Thus, just a few different letters can create confusion in writing and in speaking. But what exactly is the difference between presume vs assume?
PRESUME vs ASSUME
Presume vs Assume Definition
When you PRESUME something, you suppose it based on some evidence or probability. On the other hand, when you ASSUME something, you believe so without any evidence.
- I PRESUME from your speech that you are a foreigner.
- I PRESUME you’re here on business.
- We cannot ASSUME anything in this case.
- I ASSUME you always get up at the same time.
When to Use Presume vs Assume
Though these definitions are the most common and popular ones, both words have other meanings as well. Presume can also mean “to act without permission” or “to accept something as true because there is no evidence that it is false”. For example, in law, a person can be presumed innocent, since there is no definitive evidence that they are guilty.
As for assume, it can mean “to undertake a task or a responsibility” or “to adopt qualities”. For instance, someone can assume the place of a minister after the previous minister retired.
However, it’s the fact that these two words can be synonymous with “to suppose” or “to take granted” that is causing confusion. Indeed, there is only a slight difference but it is noticeable, especially in formal writing.
Look at a simple example to understand this difference. Here are two sentences that look almost the same:
- I PRESUME that Mary will come here at about 3 o’clock.
- I ASSUME that Mary will come here at about 3 o’clock.
Though both of these sentences suggest that you expect Mary sometime around 3, each sentence gives some extra information. The first one states that you have some evidence to support your words, e.g. Mary has called you and told you the time when she’ll arrive, or Mary always arrives at the same time. The second sentence, in contrast, shows that you believe that this is what’s going to happen, but you have no actual proof.
Presume vs Assume Examples
- I presume we’ll be there by six o’clock.
- Don’t presume too far!
- I presume that an agreement will eventually be reached.
- We must presume innocence until we have proof of guilt.
- She rarely mentions her late husband so I presume he didn’t make up for much.
- I can only assume that it was a mistake.
- We were wrong to assume that she’d agree.
- I think we can safely assume that she will pass the exam.
- You cannot automatically assume that everything your teacher says is correct.
- It seems reasonable to assume Fedorov will collect it, despite the danger.
How to Use Assume vs Presume Correctly? | Picture
Presume vs Assume: What’s the Difference?