to assume / an assumption

Assume’ is a more formal word meaning ‘guess’. It can also mean ‘accept’ – especially in the expression ‘to assume a responsibility’. However, it can also be used for any theory or principle which is accepted without analysing or questioning it. It’s very common to do this in research reports, because you can’t research everything and, in order to make predictions, you need to imagine some elements of the situation. For example, ‘The model presented here assumes a steady inflation rate of 5%’ and ‘Assuming a continuing rise in electricity demand, Auckland will begin to suffer shortages by 2015.’ The noun is ‘assumption’. When you critique research, you will often question the assumptions made by the other researcher. For example, ‘Brown’s 2006 study assumed that domestic students had English as their first language. However, that is not strictly accurate.’

I wrongly assumed she was American because of her accent. Actually, she’d only been to college there.

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