As he woke up from his siesta, the caring husband realized that his wife still wasn’t home so he presumed she must be busy at work. The wife who was a little self-centered assumed that her husband did not care about her because he hadn’t call her once and fought with him as soon as she was back.

The words ‘assume’ and ‘presume’ are the staple of a well-articulated verbal or non-verbal English communication. We too, often use these words in everyday affairs- but do we know what they really mean? More importantly, is there a distinction between them and if so; what is it?

Both ‘assume’ and ‘presume’ share a common base of definition, thus are synonymous. Both words also happen to derive from the same Latin root ‘sumere’ which translates to take’. Both of these words take something for granted, meaning they are used where something is supposed to be true. However, the extent of this supposition decides the suitability of each word in a sentence. For instance, the word ‘presume’ should be used where something is supposed or taken to be true but there is justified evidence or logic to back up the supposition. However, the word ‘assume’ is used when something is to be absolutely taken for granted, meaning the evidence to suppose something true is little or not justified. This distinction is reflected in the sentences below.

Assume vs presume – definition, uses, and example sentences

Definition of assume

‘Assume’ is pronounced ‘uh-syoom’. It is a verb and can be used in a couple of contexts. Firstly, it can be defined as taking something for granted or believing something to be true with little or no basis or logic to do so. The verb ‘assume’ can also be used to refer to holding a position or claiming responsibility or an official seat. For instance, the Prime Minister assumed office or the babysitter assumed responsibility for the spillage. ‘Assume’ can also mean to fake or pretend something, like expressions or mannerisms, and is synonymous with the verb ‘feign’ in this sense. The verb can also refer to taking control of something or claiming something without a valid right to it. For instance, the hijackers assumed control of the cockpit. This sense of the verb is synonymous with the verb ‘arrogate’ or ‘seize’. Synonyms of ‘assume’ in the general sense of believing something to be true include ‘suppose’ and ‘surmise’.

Example sentences of assume

  • She assumed that her fiancé was a smart man based on the fact that he had a bookshelf full of antique books and trendy novels.

In the first sentence, the verb ‘assume’ is used in the past tense in the meaning of supposing something without sufficient information. The woman supposed that her husband was knowledgeable just by looking at his bookshelf stacked with books, even though she knew nothing to back up this information.

  • The founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah, died exactly thirteen months after assuming the office of the Governor-General of the newly created Republic of Pakistan.

Here, the verb ‘assume’ is used with the present participle in the meaning of undertaking a responsibility or office. The sentence recalls the demise of M.A. Jinnah who died thirteen months after taking up the office of the Governor-General in Karachi, Pakistan.

  • Since his trip to Europe, my friend has assumed a French accent so fake; it is apparent he is struggling with it.

In the last sentence, the verb ‘assume’ is used in the past participle form and the sentence is part of direct speech. Here, it means to fake or pretend a mannerism, like an accent. The speaker is informing that his friend is faking a French accent in an ineffective attempt to impress him.

Definition of presume

Presume is pronounced ‘pruh-zyoom’. It is also a verb and like its synonym ‘assume’, also has a number of meanings. Generally, ‘presume’ means to suppose something based on justified probability. It can also mean to believe or expect something with confidence. The verb can also mean to do something that would be considered beyond one’s authority or jurisdiction, usually in an insolent or impolite way. The words ‘dare’ and ‘venture’ are similar in meaning to this sense of the verb. In the general sense of supposing something to be true, the words ‘assume’, ‘suppose’ and ‘expect’ are synonyms of ‘presume’.

Example sentences of presume

  • She saw that his father was bothered about something and seemed distant so she didn’t presume to bother him.

In the first sentence, the verb ‘presume’ is used in the meaning of doing something impolitely beyond one’s authority. Despite sensing that his father was uncomfortable about something the girl didn’t dare to bother him.

  • Article 11 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person accused of any crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In the second sentence, the verb ‘presume’ is used in a distinct legal context. In this sense, based on Article 11 of United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Right the accused is ‘presumed’ or supposedly innocent until there is solid proof to prove him guilty.

  • Sherlock took one glance at Watson’s wrinkled shirt, disheveled hair, and the gentle beam on his face as he strolled into the room and smugly remarked, “Long night, I presume?”

In the last sentence, the verb ‘presume’ is used in the sense of making an educated guess. Thus, Sherlock presumed that his friend had a difficult night (sexual innuendo) based on the collective cues.


The verbs ‘assume’ and ‘presume’ are synonyms that differ in their depth of meaning. To ‘assume’ something is to take something for granted but to ‘presume’ something is to make an informed guess. Each of these words also holds a few other meanings. In order to choose the right word for the right context, note that ‘presume’ has the prefix ‘pre-’ in it which means ‘before’ or ‘prior’. Thus, you need prior information or proof before you suppose to ‘presume’ something. Similarly, ‘assume’ has the prefix ‘a-’ which means ‘without’ or ‘lack thereof’. Thus, you may ‘assume’ something without sufficient information or with a lack of it. Let us know if this article was any help; we will assume all responsibility!