Commonly Confused Words: Ascent vs. Assent

by | Nov 13, 2021 | Commonly Confused Words, GrammarSpot | 0 comments

If you have been regularly reading our blog posts about commonly confused words, you have probably made a sharp ascent into the higher echelons of skilled writers. However, there is always room for improvement, so perhaps you will assent to reading another blog post about the topic. Though their meanings are not similar at all, ascent and assent are often confused because they sound alike. Here is a guide about when to use ascent vs. assent.


Ascent vs assent

Ascent vs. Assent at a Glance

Ascent is a noun, while assent can be used as either a noun or a verb. The two words are not related at all, and their meanings are very different. Here are the definitions for each:

  • Ascent is either an upward slope or the act of moving up.
  • Assent is either an agreement or a verb meaning to agree.


When To Use Ascent

To ascend means to climb, to rise up, or to advance. Ascent is the noun form that refers to the advancement, the climb, or the acting of rising up. Another way to use ascent is to refer to an area of land or a manmade structure, such as a ramp, that slopes in an upward direction.

Examples of using ascent in a sentence:

– Steve’s ascent through the ranks of the troupe of puppeteers was swift.

– The search party found the stranded hikers on the southern ascent of the mountain peak.


When To Use Assent

When used as a verb, to assent to something is to agree, to acquiesce, or to give permission. As a noun, asset refers to the agreement that you make or the permission that you give. It implies that you’ve given the decision some thoughtful consideration before agreeing.

When assent is used as a verb, it is intransitive, meaning that it does not take a direct object. Therefore, it is not grammatically correct to say that you assent a plan if you want to communicate that you have given your acquiescence. Rather, you would say that you assent to it.

Examples of using assent in a sentence:

– The impromptu ball game in the park happened without the assent of the children’s parents.

– You must assent to the injection procedure before you can receive the vaccine.


ascent vs assent definition

Ascent Vs. Assent: How To Remember Which Is Which

The context of the sentence lets you know whether you want to use ascent or assent, but how do you remember which spelling is correct for each? Try to remember that the letter C in the word ascent is the same letter that starts the word climb, which is what you do during an ascent. If you can remember the connection between the words ascent and climb, it should help to alleviate your confusion.

However, don’t feel too bad if you do mix up ascent with assent. Even professional writers (and their editors) have made the same mistake in major publications, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. In most of these cases, the writers used ascent when they meant assent, but the reverse was also true in a few examples.

When it comes to ascent vs. assent, which word do you usually use in place of the other? How do you feel when you see this type of mistake in reputable publications? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Mary Dodson