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I was preparing for the GRE exam, and was wondering what the difference was between a premise and an assertion. Any example which highlights the difference would be immensely helpful (something I haven't been able to find online).

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

An assertion is a statement of a fact or belief, while a premise is a statement from which another is inferred. For example, if we use the assumption X to conclude Y, then the premise X has been used to make the assertion Y.

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Couldn't you make the assertion that all bananas are yellow? –  Mitch Jun 9 '12 at 16:54
    
@Mitch You could. Assertions are like conclusions in that they can in turn become premises for further conclusions/assertions. While you could make a baseless assertion that all bananas are yellow, one possible premise could be "every banana I've seen as of yet has been yellow." –  user2512 Jun 9 '12 at 22:00
    
@JasperLoy: actually I'm being serious. 'All bananas are yellow can be just as much a premise or assertion as 'this banana is yellow'. There is no difference between the two as far as assertion or premise is concerned. –  Mitch Jun 9 '12 at 22:14
    
@JasperLoy: sure there's a logical connection between the two, but the fact that one implies the other says nothing about their status as an assertion or premise in a particular argument. –  Mitch Jun 9 '12 at 22:29
    
@JasperLoy: clear in what way? You've paired them, but if you follow what I said , then your pairing is arbitrary and could go the other way. So, can you add any content that would distinguish premise and assertion with your two examples? –  Mitch Jun 9 '12 at 23:38
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Yes, they do seem very similar in that they are both related to 'assumption' or 'axiom' in an argument. You can read their dictionary definitions which will tell you what each are but it doesn't tel you what is important in the comparison.

A 'premise' is an assumption that is usually discovered, implicitly understood, or passively waiting (possibly even hiding), found by working backwards in an argument to a starting point.

An 'assertion' is an actively stated starting point, one made to eliminate there possibilities in forming an argument.

Both, like 'assumption' or 'axiom', are the starting points or base data of an argument, One may question all of these but for the validity of the argument one is expected to accept them as given. One may alter them but then that's a different situation for the argument.

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