Difference Between Assume and Presume (With Table)

If you do your research properly on the English Language, you will probably come across thousands of words that people, normally, use interchangeably in their day-to-day lives. Although these words have different meanings altogether, people seem to ignore this fact and continue to use them as and when they feel like it.

One such pair of words assume and presume. Both the words sound similar and also have a fine line between them in terms of definition. Nonetheless, their meanings are different.

Assume vs Presume

The difference between assume and presume is that you use presume when you are sure about something to happen before it does. Both assume and presume means to believe in something even before it takes place. However, you use the word “assume” when you are not very sure of the outcome.

For example, some unknown person knocks on your main door when you least expect a visitor. In such a situation, you can simply assume that it the next door naughty kid.

Presume is used in situations that are based on possibility and is not backed by any proof. For example, if the milkman delivers milk at your doorstep every morning at 7 am, at 6:59 am you can presume that he will come in the next minute.

Comparison Table Between Assume and Presume

Parameter of comparisonAssumePresume
DefinitionAssume is used to make a guess that is based on very little or even no proof or evidence.Presume is used to make a guess that is informed and backed by proper evidence.
ExampleYou assume of something to be the case.You presume Mr. X to be dead after he went missing a few days back.
ProbabilityIt is not based on probability.It is based on probability.
Level of confidenceYou are not very confident of a situation when you use the word assume.You are somewhat confident of a situation when you use the word presume.
AuthorityAn assumption is less authoritative.A Presumption is more authoritative.

What is Assume?

When you assume, it means that you “suppose.” This is also where most of you get confused between the words “assume” and “presume”.

However, you need to know that to assume may also refer to undertake a job or a task and to take responsibility. It will not be wrong if you say that “assume is quite similar to the phrases “take up” or even “take on.”

It is normally seen that assume is used when you suppose something to be the case without adequate proof to back it up. As an example, you may say, “I assume Mr. X to be the manager in a company since he has been with the association for a long time.”

Assume is used at times when you are not very confident about a situation. You make a guess that is not backed by any evidence when you want to use assume.

What is Presume?

Presume, on the other hand, is slightly different than assume as far as definition and situation for use are concerned. To presume will mean to assume or to expect something about which you are confident to happen.

Although presume is often used interchangeably with assume, it does imply a level of confidence in the speaker.

If you do some research, you will come to know that the word presume originated from the Latin word pre and sumere. The former means “before” and the latter means “to take”. It means that you are sure about something even before it takes place.

You normally use the word presume about a situation that you suppose will happen without any steady proof or evidence. It is entirely based on probability.

Main Differences Between Assume and Presume

  1. To assume is to take for granted or suppose something without getting backed by solid proof. On the other hand, to presume is to suppose or believe something to happen, which is not backed by solid proof and yet determined by probability.
  2. When a person uses assume, he is not very sure or confident about something that may take place. On the other hand, when a person uses presume, he is somewhat confident about the happening of a situation based on previous experiences.
  3. An example of a sentence with “Assume” would be, “even though I don’t know, I assume the police have interviewed him.” Whereas, an example of “Presume” would be, “I informed the host about our arrival, who I presume is the owner of the hotel judging from the photo on the hotel wall.”
  4. Sometimes, assume can also mean to undertake responsibility or a task and presume can mean to accept something to be true or to act without permission.

Conclusion

You probably know by now about the main difference between assume and presume. You will also be able to use it correctly in sentences now that you know about their meanings.

However, it is true that when you use the word assume, people seldom love to hear it being used. This is simply because it implies that you are making a wild guess based on no evidence.

Presume is something that people comparatively like to hear. There is seldom any funny phrase associated with the word simply because it is normally backed by evidence and you normally feel more confident when you use the word presume.

Even though presume can sometimes be used interchangeably with the word assume, it does portray a certain level of confidence in the voice of the speaker or the user.

For a layman, using both the words interchangeably is still acceptable. However, if you are a student of the English language, making mistakes by using assume and presume in wrong contexts is certainly not acceptable.

Thus, it will be a good thing to understand the meaning and the situations when to use assume and presume before you do use it in real life.

References

  1. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/assume
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assume
  3. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/presume