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Presupposition vs. Supposition — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 13, 2024
Presupposition refers to assumptions inherently understood within a statement, while supposition involves an uncertain belief or hypothesis formed without all the facts.
Presupposition vs. Supposition — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Presupposition and Supposition


Key Differences

A presupposition is an underlying assumption that is considered to be understood and accepted prior to the statement itself, whereas a supposition is a speculative guess or hypothesis that might not be based on prior evidence.
When communicating, presuppositions are embedded in statements and are taken for granted as being true, on the other hand, suppositions are openly speculative and often presented as possibilities or conjectures.
The acceptance of presuppositions often relies on shared knowledge or context among the participants, whereas suppositions do not necessarily rely on shared understanding and can be introduced even without common agreement.
Presuppositions can shape the way information is interpreted and accepted in communication, influencing the listener's perspective subtly. Conversely, suppositions invite scrutiny and are typically subject to validation or discussion.
While presuppositions are critical in constructing logical arguments and can lead to misunderstandings if not shared by the listener, suppositions are essential in theoretical and explorative discussions where hypothesizing is required to advance understanding.

Comparison Chart


An implicit assumption within a statement
A speculative assumption or hypothesis


Inherent and taken for granted
Often based on incomplete information


To communicate based on shared understanding
To propose possibilities for consideration

Communication Role

Embedded in discourse and usually unquestioned
Introduced for discussion and evaluation

Impact on Argument

Can subtly influence or steer discussions
Encourages exploration and validation

Compare with Definitions


A necessary condition for a statement’s relevance or truth.
The complaint You never text me back presupposes that texting has occurred before.


A speculative or theoretical assumption.
The theory is based on the supposition that the market remains stable.


An implicit assumption made prior to a communication.
Asking Do you want to eat again? presupposes that you have already eaten.


A proposed explanation that requires verification.
The scientist's supposition about the particle's behavior needs testing.


Something taken as true without being explicitly stated.
The question Who broke the vase? presupposes that the vase is broken.


An uncertain belief or hypothesis.
His supposition that the keys were in the car was incorrect.


An inherent part of understanding sentences or phrases.
The statement Her wedding was beautiful presupposes she is married.


An assumption made without sufficient evidence.
Her belief that it might rain was mere supposition.


In the branch of linguistics known as pragmatics, a presupposition (or PSP) is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse. Examples of presuppositions include: Jane no longer writes fiction.


The act of supposing.


To believe or suppose in advance
"In passing moral judgments ... we presuppose that a man's actions, and hence also his being a good or a bad man, are in his power" (Leo Strauss).


Something supposed; an assumption.


To require or involve necessarily as an antecedent condition
"The term tax relief ... presupposes a conceptual metaphor.


Something that is supposed; an assumption made to account for known facts, conjecture.


An assumption made beforehand; a preliminary conjecture or speculation.


The act or an instance of supposing.


The act of presupposing.


The act of supposing, laying down, imagining, or considering as true or existing, what is known not to be true, or what is not proved.


(linguistics) An assumption or belief implicit in an utterance or other use of language.


That which is supposed; hypothesis; conjecture; surmise; opinion or belief without sufficient evidence.
This is only an infallibility upon supposition that if a thing be true, it is imposible to be false.
He means are in supposition.


The act of presupposing; an antecedent implication; presumption.


A message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence


That which is presupposed; a previous supposition or surmise.


A hypothesis that is taken for granted;
Any society is built upon certain assumptions


The act of presupposing; a supposition made prior to having knowledge (as for the purpose of argument)


The cognitive process of supposing


A background belief regarding the truth of a statement.
Saying John stopped smoking presupposes he used to smoke.


Guesswork used in absence of full information.
Their decision was based on a supposition of continued economic growth.

Common Curiosities

What is the main difference between a presupposition and a supposition?

Presuppositions are implicit assumptions within statements taken as true, while suppositions are speculative and often require verification.

How do cultural differences impact presuppositions?

Different cultural backgrounds can lead to different presuppositions, potentially causing communication challenges.

Can presuppositions be false?

Yes, presuppositions can be false, leading to misunderstandings if the listener does not share the same assumptions.

Why are suppositions important in scientific research?

They allow researchers to formulate hypotheses that can be tested and explored further.

Do presuppositions affect how arguments are perceived?

Yes, they can influence the direction and understanding of an argument by establishing a baseline of assumed facts.

Can presuppositions be deliberately manipulative?

Yes, they can be used manipulatively in rhetoric to steer conversations or persuade others subtly.

How does one identify a presupposition in a statement?

By examining what must be true for the statement itself to make sense or be relevant.

What is an example of a common presupposition in everyday language?

Common phrases like "Did you enjoy the movie?" presuppose that the person watched a movie.

How should one handle unrecognized presuppositions in communication?

Clarifying or questioning the underlying assumptions can help improve understanding and avoid miscommunications.

Are there risks associated with relying on suppositions?

Relying on suppositions without adequate evidence can lead to incorrect conclusions and decisions.

Is it possible to challenge a presupposition?

Yes, challenging the underlying assumptions of a statement can lead to deeper insights and clarification.

Can a statement have both presuppositions and suppositions?

Yes, a statement can include both elements, depending on its content and context.

Why might someone choose to use supposition in a conversation?

To introduce new ideas or possibilities that can stimulate discussion and analysis.

How can one verify a supposition?

By gathering more information and evidence, and through experimental or observational validation.

How do presuppositions and suppositions affect reasoning?

Presuppositions can narrow the scope of reasoning by setting a framework, while suppositions can expand it by introducing new variables.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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