I'm having a little confusion while writing this sentence. In informal English we often say "I suppose" to mean "I assume" or "I guess." In the sentence below, should I choose "I supposed" or "I suppose"? Am I right in thinking that it should be "I suppose" here?

In the end I supposed I just couldn't let go of that letter.

  • 1
    You'll have to give us more context: it depends on whether the supposition (not the letting go) was a past act or is a present one. Sep 16, 2017 at 23:22
  • I'm trying to convey that at a time in the past I supposed... Sep 16, 2017 at 23:37
  • 2
    Then you use the past tense. "At the time I supposed I could not let go. Now I suppose that I actually could have; but it's too late." Sep 16, 2017 at 23:45
  • [In informal English we often say "I suppose" to mean "I assume" or "I guess."] In BrE, "I guess" is considered informal, "I suppose" neutral. ( en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/guess ) Could be different in AmE. (Purely AmE dictionaries don't mark either word as informal - although the American edition of ODO does so in the case of "guess".)
    – rjpond
    Sep 17, 2017 at 0:20
  • @rjpond everything tends to be less formal on this side of the world. I guess and I suppose are more or less equivalent, at least in everyday conversation.
    – Andrew
    Sep 17, 2017 at 1:28

1 Answer 1


The answer depends entirely on when you want the listener to place the supposing. If you're telling a story where, at the time, you imagined a particular reason something happened, then the past tense is appropriate.

I supposed she still loved me, in her own way.

= At the time, I guessed that she loved me

However if you are thinking back on a past event, and at this present moment making some kind of conjecture about why you did something, then use the present tense.

I suppose she still loved me, in her own way.

= As I tell you this, I guess that she loved me at that time.

Ordinarily you would use the present tense in either case, unless it is important to understand your thoughts in the past -- possibly because you think differently now.

(Back then) I supposed that she loved me, in her own way ... but now I understand she never really loved me at all.

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