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It is common in mathematics in English to use the words assume and suppose differently, that is, to use the word assume when dealing with a reduction or case, while using the word suppose when looking for a contradiction. For example, one may use the phrases "Thus, it can be assumed that..." and "For the sake of contradiction, suppose that... ."

I have seen the word angenommen used in mathematics in German, but I am not sure whether it encompasses what both assume and suppose mean in English or not. Does it? Or is there another word that is also used?

I am aware of the words annehmen and ausgegangen, but I have not seen them in mathematical texts before.

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Let's assume p is a prime.

Setzen wir voraus, p sei prim.

Let's suppose p is a prime.

Nehmen wir an, p sei prim.


Voraussetzen is much stronger than annehmen.

Nehmen Sie etwa an, wir hätten viel Geld? — Das setze ich voraus, sonst wären Sie doch gar nicht hier.

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  • Is there a way to use these without a pronoun while remaining formal? – Schroder Apr 23 '19 at 19:26
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    @Schroder Yes, by using the participle: Angenommen, p ist prim and Vorausgesetzt, p sei prim – jonathan.scholbach Apr 23 '19 at 20:18
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One common phrase in mathematics (I think, it is the standard phrase) is

Sei X ...

which is the translation of

Let X be ...

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    You are right, there is also a third common phrase. How does assume and suppose fit in with their translation? – Shegit Brahm Apr 24 '19 at 13:02

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