French word of the day: Assumer

French word of the day: Assumer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Don't assume that you know what this means.

Why do I need to know assumer?

Because it’s a sneaky ‘false friend’ – it 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’, so j’assume can be like saying j’avoue – ‘I admit’.

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. 

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See also on The Local:

J’assume complètement le confinement. – I have come completely to terms with the lockdown.

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

Il faut assumer les conséquences de ses choix. – You have to take responsibility for the consequences of your choices.

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

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