The Assumption Mark



The rules of English grammar provide us with question marks, exclamation marks, and quotation marks, but no assumption mark.

Why not an assumption mark? Is it because it’s good to question, to be excited, and to speak, but it’s bad to assume? What does it mean to assume?

To assume is to conclude something without having all the facts.

Here are some examples of assuming:

  • My boss wants to speak with me, so I must be in trouble.

  • Tim didn’t call me tonight, so he’s not interested in me anymore.

  • People don’t talk to me at parties, so there’s something wrong with me.

People make assumptions routinely that inhibit communication and create hurt and isolation. Therefore, I believe humanity would be greatly benefited by a special symbol designed to notify people when an assumption is being made. To avoid the cost and disruption to the world from having to create a new symbol, I propose that assumptions be inserted between less-than “<” and greater-than “>” symbols.

Here is an example of the use of the new assumption mark:

Martha: “<You’re such a creep.>”

John: “Why? What did I do?”

Martha: “<You weren’t nice enough to Kathy.>”

John: “What? I spoke with her for twenty minutes last night. Any longer, and <she’d think I was coming on to her.>”

Martha: “<Oh, you’d like that!> <You like flirting with women.>”

John: “No I don’t. I love only you. <You get so uptight sometimes.>”

What great insight is revealed by the assumption mark! How many hearts and lives and perhaps even nations would be saved with this new clarity?

But, no good thing comes without resistance. Here’s <what the naysayers would say about the new assumption mark>:

  • It looks awkward.

  • It requires extra work.

  • It seems like a pointless thing to do.

  • It distracts from the real communication.

Don’t these criticisms apply equally to actual assumptions? The symbol is <perfect!>

I could go on and on about the sociological and physiological damaging effects of making assumptions, but I think <you’ve caught the vision of my brilliant idea,> and <that's enough for now.>


If you don’t like the new mark, you should consider making fewer assumptions in your life.

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