Should You Use Assume Or Presume?

Differences Between Assume And Presume

Although presume and assume are used almost interchangeably in the English language, there is some distinction between them that separates their meanings. In general, both terms mean to take something as true or real; however, the difference lies in the level of confidence each word gives the user. In most cases, presume is used to show that the writer has high confidence in his presumption or that they are using evidence/context to guess. In contrast, assume is usually used to show that a guess is being made with little or no evidence to back it up. 

To sum up these differences again, it is important to note that presume implies more confidence/evidence to back up a claim, while assume applies that a guess is being made with little evidence/confidence. 

Origination of Assume And Presume

According to one of the first distinctions of these words in Webster’s dictionary, 1828 was most likely when these two words were first distinguished from each other. In this distinction, it was noted that assume should refer to situations with little proof, while presume should be used to refer to situations with some examination or positive proof. In their very basic roots, these terms come from the Latin word sumere, which means “to take.” They later split when the prefix pre/prae- was added to presume, and the prefix ad/as- was added to assume. 

To show the difference in these words, the current meaning of presume is “to assume especially with confidence,” which shows that these terms have become interchangeable in modern English. 

Examples Of Using Presume And Assume

A biologist may assume that all complex creatures have evolved from simpler ancestors.

Most people accept that buying brown sugar often costs more than regular sugar. They normally assume that brown sugar is created through extra processes/special materials, logically meaning that it should cost more. 

When I saw wrappers all over the floor, I assumed that the dog had gotten into the Halloween candy.

Because you don’t have your homework with you, I presume that you didn’t do it. 

The textbook should be available to everyone, presuming that everyone can access the school computers. 

Using Assume And Presume

Although both terms have now become interchangeable in our language, some people still recognize the small distinction between them. If you want to show that you have more confidence in your inference, you should probably use presume. If you are more unsure about your claims, assume is probably the best bet. If you aren’t worried about using them for distinct situations, most people get by with picking whichever sounds best and using it! 

Related: For more articles about similar words, click here! 


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