Presume vs Assume | Difference & Examples

Presume and assume both mean “see something as true”; however, “presume” implies reasoning and likelihood, whereas “assume” suggests that there is no evidence.

For example, imagine you’re at work and a report goes missing. Without any proof, you might assume that the new intern took it to learn more about company affairs. However, if the intern is later overheard discussing the report’s details, it would be reasonable to presume that they took the missing report, although there is still no direct evidence. This scenario highlights that the subtle distinction between “presume” and “assume” depends on the available information.

When it comes to believing that something is true, the difference between “presume” and “assume” lies in the confidence and probability, or lack thereof.

Examples: Presume in a sentence Examples: Assume in a sentence
I presume you’ll be joining us for dinner tonight. Let’s not assume the worst without knowing all the details.
Since the lights are on, I presume someone is home. I assume the mail comes at the same time every day, but I don’t know for sure.
Based on the applause, one might presume the performance was a success. He assumed she wouldn’t mind if he borrowed her laptop, but he was mistaken.

Presume definition

“Presume” is a verb that has multiple definitions. It can be used to mean “confidently believe something is true based on likelihood” (e.g., “I presume she’ll want a gift for her birthday”).

In a legal context, “presume” refers to the act of accepting something as true, although there is no proof. Therefore, to presume someone is innocent means to take it as a fact that they are, until proven otherwise.

Additionally, “presume” also means “behave or do something audaciously, or with unwarranted boldness.” For example, someone may presume to offer another person life advice, even though the two of them barely know each other.

Examples: Presume in a sentence
I saw my daughter’s packed bags by the door and presumed she was leaving for a camping trip.

As defense lawyers, it is important for us to presume an individual innocent until proven guilty.

My sister presumed to criticize my cooking without having tasted a single bite of the entrée.

Assume definition

“Assume” is also a verb with multiple definitions. When one assumes, they believe something to be true regardless of a lack of evidence or reasoning (e.g., “I assume he’ll like the book, but I don’t know his preferred genre”).

“Assume” can also mean to “take upon oneself” (e.g., “assume a responsibility”); to “place oneself in” (e.g., “assume the position”); or to “falsely take on an identity or manner” (e.g., “assume a look of indifference”).

Examples: Assume in a sentence
I assume we’re having a meeting, although no one has mentioned any plans yet.

She decided to assume full responsibility for her team’s failure to meet their quarterly goals.

When I blow the whistle, assume your positions in the field and get ready to play.

He assumed an air of nonchalance to blend into the crowd, but in reality, he was anxiously searching for his brother.

Frequently asked questions about presume vs assume

What are synonyms for assume?

Synonyms for “assume,” meaning to “believe something to be true without proof,” include:

  • Imagine
  • Infer
  • Postulate
  • Speculate
  • Suppose
What does assumption mean?

To assume something means to see something as true, although you have little evidence or reasoning to support it. Therefore, an assumption is a belief based on no proof (e.g., “My assumption about him turned out to be wrong”).

“Assumption” can also refer to the act of taking something upon oneself (e.g., “it was an assumption of power”).

What are synonyms for presume?

Synonyms for “presume,” meaning to “believe something to be true based on probability,” include:

  • Anticipate
  • Expect
  • Conclude
  • Deduce
  • Gather
What does presumption mean?

If you presume something (i.e., if you believe that something is true based on likelihood or probability), then that belief is a presumption. For example, believing that your favorite baseball team is going to win the championship because they have won the last two in a row is a presumption.

“Presumption” can also mean “audacious attitude or conduct” (e.g., “His presumption in taking the CEO’s parking spot was met with disbelief”).

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Gina Rancaño, BA

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.