Wrong Word Wednesday #36

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television

Assume / Presume

Well, whaddayaknow? I didn’t even know there was a difference but it seems I have been unwittingly using the correct words in the correct context most of my life. I’m going to assume that subconsciously I knew the difference. Now let’s presume that my assumption is correct. What’s the difference? Both mean “suppose” in a roundabout sort of way but apparently the difference is that a presumption is based on evidence whereas an assumption is not.

They may have started out meaning the same thing with one (presume) merely sounding more formal than the other but now that the word has become common in legal speak, the meaning seems to have changed slightly to mean that one is based on evidence and the other is merely a guess.

If true then the best way to remember this is the old saying “when you assume you make an ASS of U and ME”


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