assume vs. suppose

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jokaec

Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
"Assume" and "Suppose" your wife and your mother fall into water at the same time, which one would you save first?

In my context, are they both correct? If so, what's the difference? Is anyone more likely to happen than the other? Thank you.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In contexts like this, where we ask someone to imagine a hypothtical situation, the only word is suppose.

    Assume means take as a working hypothesis, and is used in more scientific or analytical contexts.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    They definitely are not both correct.
    You can only use "suppose" here.
    The difference is not about likeliness of happening, really.
    When I try to tease out the exact difference in my mind I think it is hard to explain. Do you have any other contexts in mind where you might need to choose between these two?
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    They definitely are not both correct.
    You can only use "suppose" here.
    The difference is not about likeliness of happening, really.
    When I try to tease out the exact difference in my mind I think it is hard to explain. Do you have any other contexts in mind where you might need to choose between these two?
    Thank you, suzi and Keith.
    Mother: You must come back home before 10PM.
    Kid: "Suppose" or "Assume" if I come back after 10PM, how would you punish me? ( With a tricky smile)
    Which one is correct?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Suppose" or "Assume" if I come back ... :cross:
    "Suppose" or "Assume" that I come back ... / "Suppose" or "Assume" ø I come back ... :tick:

    See Keith's #2 for the answer to your question. :thumbsup:
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Suppose is definitely what you need in these hypothetical situations.
    If you get other questions about these two, come back to us, because there is some overlap in how we use them, but in the two contexts you have given you definitely need "suppose".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To assume - To accept [something], receive [something], accept [something], adopt [something]; to take [something, usually a responsibility] on yourself; to take [something, usually a fact] for granted.
    To suppose: to conjecture; to guess; to vaguely believe; to imagine; to create an imaginary case; to suspect;

    We assume something to be the truth and real, and the following verb is in the indicative: Assume I am King."
    When we suppose something, we imagine that it were the case, that it might be possible in another time or another reality and the following verb is in the subjunctive: "Suppose I were King."

    The more unrealistic the concept of the statement is, the more likely you are to use "suppose."

    "We assume that the boiler is hot because if you touch it, your fingers are burned, but let us suppose that the boiler is not hot, then how would we explain the burned fingers?"
     

    Gergedan Cemil

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Hello,
    "Assume that you have one million dollars. What will you do now?"
    Regardless of it's formality, could someone tell me if I should use 'will' or 'would' here, please? I think it must be 'will', but if I used 'suppose' I'd have to say 'would', is my understanding right?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If you Google "Assume vs. Suppose" you will see several discussions.

    suppose vs assume - Google Search

    This discussion is pretty good: Think vs. Suppose vs. Assume

    Assume

    Assumption is believing something to be true based on certain facts but not all. For example, you may assume the nature of some person based on another person’s account of the said person.

    Suppose

    Suppose is based on one’s own thinking and assumptions. Supposing something can be based on imagination or facts.


    My observation is that "presume" has more factual basis than "assume" and "suppose" has less factual basis than "assume".
     
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