French word of the day: J'assume

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French word of the day: J'assume
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Don't assume that you know what this means.


Why do I need to know j'assume?

Because it's a sneaky 'false friend' - the verb assumer looks and sounds like the English 'assume', but it means something quite different.

What does it mean?

Assumer is a French verb that has nothing to do with 'assuming something'. It's what we call a false friend: it is very similar to an English term, which means it is easy to get them mixed up.

But translating 'I assume' as j'assume doesn't really work.

Assumer means 'admit' or 'accept' something.

The exact English translation will vary depending on the context. Assumer can be about admitting responsibility for something, or accepting a situation as it is, like 'coming to terms with' it or alternatively taking pride in or 'owning' something that might be difficult or controversial.


If you want to say you assume something in French, use présumer, (to presume), supposer (to suppose) or imaginer (to imagine or to guess). All these are, like assumer, ER-verbs, which are among the easiest verbs to conjugate.

Use it like this

Je suis gay et je l'assume - I'm gay and I'm proud

Macron: J'assume totalement la réforme des retraits - Macron: I take total responsibility for the pension reform

J'assume complètement le confinement. - I have come completely to terms with the lockdown.

You can of course use the verb for other people

Elle assume pleinement ses origines bourgeouises. - She fully accepts her bourgeois origins. 

Assume tes responsabilités, s'il te plaît. -  Take responsibility, please.


Endosser - take responsibility for something (put something on one's back, figuratively)

Prendre la charge - take charge

Prendre à son compte - admit responsibility

Accepter sa responsabilité - admit responsibility


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

M.J. Wilkie 2023/05/16 18:48
This doesn't have to be a false friend, because we talk about "assuming a responsibility."
Iain 2023/05/16 12:55
Hmm. The French usage is actually not all that different to certain secondary uses of 'assume' in English, beyond what is now the most common everyday usage which is synonymous with 'presume', 'suppose' or 'imagine'. These are e.g. 'take responsibility for' or 'take control of' etc. Both French and English uses of 'assume' have their origins in the latin verb 'assumer'.

See Also