2. As one of the basic forms of reasoning, inference can in general be defined as a process of accepting a
statement or proposition (called the conclusion) on the basis of the acceptance of one or more other statements or
propositions. It includes entailment, presupposition, and implicature. (Bublitz & Norrick, 2011: 397).
When one reads or hears pieces of language, one normally tries to understand not only what the
words mean, but what the writer or the speaker of those words intend to convey. One of the principal
difficulties that one faces when dealing with aspects of language is how to distinguish between
presupposition and entailment. These two concepts are described and examined for the reason that
they seem to provide the basis for answering a number of questions both about speaker commitment
and sentence meaning. As a matter of fact, presupposition is what the speaker assumes to be the case
prior to making an utterance whereas entailment is what logically follows from what is asserted in the
Presupposition plays an important role in the production and comprehension of speech act. It
is defined from different points of view, each of which is similar to each other in some way or
According to Bublitz & Norrick (2011)“the German mathematician and logician Gottlob Frege
is generally recognised as the first scholar in modern times who re introduced the philosophical
study of presupposition though the notion of presupposition may go back at least as far as the
mediaeval philosopher Petrus Hispanus.
4. Yule (1985) defines presupposition as an assumption by a speaker/ writer
about what is true or already known by the listener / reader. Therefore,
speakers not sentence have presupposition.
For instance: your brother is waiting outside.
(There is an obvious presupposition that you have a brother).
- John's brother bought three horses.
The speaker will normally be expected to have the presupposition that a person called
John exist and he has a brother.
The speaker may also hold more specific presupposition that he has a lot of money.
5. Hudson (2000) states that "a presupposition" is something assumed presupposed) to be
true in a sentence which asserts other information".
In the following example, sentence (a) presupposes sentence (b).
a. The child sneezed again.
b. The child had sneezed before.
The first sentence presupposes the information in the second, and this is apparent in the fact
that if the first sentence is negated, the truth of the second remains unchanged:
The child did not sneeze again.
6. Yule (2000) sees that presupposition has been associated with the use of a large number of
words, phrases, and structures. These linguistic forms are considered to be indicators of
potential presupposition, which can only become actual presupposition in context with
The types of presupposition are :
1- The existential presupposition: It is assumed to be present either in possessive
constructions (such as: your car presupposes you have a car) or in any definite noun
phrase as in using expressions like: the King of Sweden, the cat, etc. in which the
speaker presupposes the existence of the entities named.
7. 2. The factive presupposition: since some words are used in the sentences to denote facts,
such as know, realize, regret, glad, odd and aware.
e.g. Everybody knows that John is ill presupposes that John is ill.
She didn’t realize he was ill. (he was ill)
I wasn’t aware that she got a job. (she got a job).
3. Non-factive presupposition: which is assumed not to be true. Verbs like dream, imagine
and pretend are used with the presupposition that what follows is not true.
e.g. John dreamed that he was rich presupposes that John was not rich.
she pretends to be ill).
she is not ill.
( I imagined I was in California).
I was not in California.
8. 4. Lexical presupposition: such as manage, stop, and start. In this type, the use of
one form with its asserted meaning is conventionally interpreted with the presupposition
that another (non-asserted) meaning is understood. When one says that someone
managed to do something, the asserted meaning is that the person succeeded in some
way. But when one says that someone did not manage, the asserted meaning is that the
person did not succeed .
Other examples: He stopped smoking. (he used to smoke).
You're late again (you were late before).
9. 5. Structural presuppositions: in this case, certain sentence structures have been analyzed
as conventionally presupposing that part of the structure is assumed to be true
One might say that speakers can use such structures to treat information as presupposed
(assumed to be true) and hence to be accepted as true by the listeners. For instance, the wh-
forms (i.e. when, where, etc.) can be used in this type, as in
- When did John leave? presupposes that John left.
- When did she travel to Dubai? (she travelled).
- When did you buy the house? (you bought the house).
10. 6. Counter-factual presupposition: in which what is presupposed is not only true, but is the
opposite of what is true, or contrary to facts.
- If you were his friend you would have helped him presupposes that you are not his friend.
A conditional structure of this sentence presupposes that the information in the if-clause is not
true of the time of utterance .
- If I were rich, I would buy a car. (I'm not rich).
- They wish they could go on vocation now. (they can't go on vocation)
11. Properties of Presupposition :
Constancy under negation :
It is one of the properties used in pragmatics to check for the presuppositions
understanding involves negating a sentence with a particular presupposition and considering
whether the presupposition remain true (Yule,2000:26).
The presupposition of a statement will remain true even what that statement is negated .
a. Mary's hat is red.
b. Mary's hat is not red.
Presuppositions are defeasible. They are cancelled if they are inconsistent with
(i) background assumptions.
(ii) conversational implicatures.
(iii) certain discourse contexts.
Furthermore, they can also disappear in certain intrasentential contexts, some of which give
rise to the projection problem of presupposition. (Bublitz & Norrick, 2011: 404).
13. Entailment :
Entailment is a term derived from formal logic and now often used as part of the study of semantics. All the
other essential semantic relations like equivalence and contradiction can be defined in terms of entailment.
Crystal (1998) defines it as "a term refers to a relation between a pair of sentences such that the truth of the
second sentence necessarily follows from the truth of the first.
e.g. I can see a dog entails 'I can see an animal'. One can not assert the first and deny the second.
Bake and Ellege (2011) define entailment as a logical relationship between two propositions,
where if one is true then the other must also be true For example, the statement :
‘Mary married John’ entails that ‘Mary got married’.
14. Types of Entailment:
According to Yule (2000), there are two types of entailment, background entailment and
foreground entailment. In one occasion, one sentence can has a number of background
entailments but one foreground entailments. In the example:
- Bob chased three rabbits.
The speaker is necessarily committed to the truth of a very large number of background
entailments, only some of them are presented as follows:
1. Someone chased three rabbits.
2. Bob did something to three rabbits.
3. Bob chased three of something .
4. Something happened .
15. On any occasion of utterance (a), the speaker will indicate how these
entailments are to be ordered. the speaker will communicate which
entailment is assumed to be more important for interpreting intended
meaning, than any others.
16. Whereas foreground entailment, which is defined by stress, is more
important for interpreting intended meaning.
a.1. Bob chased THREE rabbits.
b.2. BOB chased three rabbits.
the speaker indicates that the foreground entailment, that Bob chased a certain number of
rabbits, while In (b2), the focus shifts to Bob, and the main assumption is that 'someone
one of function of stress in English is clearly tied to marking the main
assumption of the speaker in producing an utterance . so it allows the speaker
to mark for the listener what the focus of message and what is being assumed .
17. The relationship between Presupposition and Entailment :
One of the principal difficulties that one faces with language is how to distinguish between
presupposition and entailment.
1. Entailment cannot be shown to remain if negation is applied to the first proposition. So if we say :
‘Mary didn’t marry John’, we cannot claim that Mary got married
(she may have married someone else or she may have married no one we don’t know).
According to Yule (1996) , In this point , Presupposition seems to contrast with entailment.
For instance :
a. The king of France is bald.
b. There is a king of France.
c. The king of France is not bald.
18. 2- Presupposition is what the speaker assumes to be the case prior to making an utterance.
Therefore, speakers not sentences have presupposition, whereas entailment is what logically
follows from what is asserted in the utterance. Sentences, not speakers, have entailments.
As the following examples:
She has stopped smoking: it presupposes she used smoke.
She hasn't stopped smoking: it still Presupposes she used to smoke.
Utterances and their entailments : The emperor was assassinated. Entails:
a. Someone was assassinated.
b. The emperor died.
The emperor wasn’t assassinated: doesn’t entail any more.
19. 3- There is a precise correspondence between entailment and hyponymy. "If two assertions
differ only in the substitution of a hyponym for a superordinate term, then one of the
assertions entails the other" (Allan,1986: 181).
On the other hand, Hudson (2000) mentions that it is helpful to distinguish presupposition
from synonymy. Presupposition, unlike synonymy, concerns knowledge which a
speaker/writer does not assert but presumes as part of the background of a sentence,
knowledge presumed to be already known to the hearer/reader.
4- There are two types of entailment which are: background entailment and foreground
entailment, while presupposition has six types which are: the existential, the factive, the
non-factive, the lexical, the structural and the counterfactual.
20. 5. Presupposition is one of the properties used in pragmatics and it is
defeasible, while entailment is semantic in nature and in this case it is
not defeasible , also there is a pragmatic entailment which is default on
one hand and defeasible on the other .