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Difference Between Assent or Consent

Assent or Consent

When discussing the nuances of agreement and approval, the terms “assent” and “consent” often come to the fore. Both play significant roles in legal, ethical, and everyday language, yet they carry distinct meanings and connotations. This article delves into the specifics of “assent” and “consent,” beginning with their grammatical facts, origins, and uses, to provide a comprehensive understanding of their differences and applications.

Part of SpeechNoun/VerbNoun/Verb
DefinitionAgreement or approval, often used in a formal contextPermission for something to happen, implies a level of understanding and willingness
OriginMiddle English, from Old French “assenter” or directly from Latin “assentire”Middle English, from Old French “consentir”, from Latin “consentire”

Difference Between “Assent” OR “Consent”

Definition of Assent

Assent refers to the agreement or approval of something, often given after consideration. It can be used both as a noun and a verb. In its usage, assent tends to lean towards the notion of agreement with an idea, proposal, or statement more than the permission aspect. It is frequently utilized in formal contexts, such as legislative or decision-making processes, where it signifies a positive nod or agreement to proceed.

Definition of Consent

Consent, on the other hand, is the permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. It also functions as both a noun and a verb. Consent is deeply rooted in the concept of informed agreement, carrying implications of full understanding, voluntariness, and the capacity to make that decision. This term is widely used in legal, medical, and ethical discussions, emphasizing the importance of free will and autonomy.

Origin of Assent

The term “assent” stems from the Middle English, borrowed from Old French “assenter,” which in turn originates from the Latin “assentire,” combining “ad-” (to) with “sentire” (to feel). This etymology reflects the notion of feeling towards or agreeing with something.

Origin of Consent

Consent” derives from the Middle English, from Old French “consentir,” which comes from Latin “consentire,” meaning “to feel together.” Its roots highlight the mutual aspect of agreement, suggesting a shared understanding or feeling.


  • Assent is pronounced as /əˈsent/, with a stress on the second syllable.
  • Consent is pronounced as /kənˈsent/, also with a stress on the second syllable.

Comparing Assent and Consent

FocusAgreement or approvalPermission with understanding
Usage ContextFormal agreements, legislative decisionsLegal, medical, ethical contexts
ImplicationOften does not imply understanding or voluntarinessInvolves informed and voluntary agreement
Legal SignificanceUsed in specific legal or formal contexts without the necessity of understandingEssential for validating agreements, especially where personal rights or autonomy are concerned

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Assent in Sentences

  1. The board gave their assent to the new policy. (Shows formal agreement to a decision)
  2. She nodded in assent. (Indicates agreement through a gesture)
  3. Assent from all members is required to pass the motion. (Highlights the need for unanimous agreement)
  4. He murmured his assent. (Suggests a quiet agreement)
  5. The government’s assent is crucial for the project to proceed. (Emphasizes the importance of official approval)

Use of Consent in Sentences

  1. She gave her consent for the surgery after understanding all the risks involved. (Shows informed agreement to a medical procedure)
  2. The law requires parental consent for minors to travel abroad. (Highlights the need for permission from guardians)
  3. Without your consent, we cannot proceed. (Emphasizes the necessity of voluntary agreement)
  4. He signed the document, indicating his consent. (Shows agreement through a formal action)
  5. Consent must be given freely and without coercion. (Underlines the conditions for valid consent)


While “assent” and “consent” are often used interchangeably in everyday language, their nuances become significant in formal, legal, and ethical contexts. Understanding these differences is crucial for accurate communication, especially in areas where the distinction impacts the validity of agreements and decisions. Recognizing whether a situation requires assent or consent can guide how we seek and give approval, ensuring that our engagements are both legally sound and ethically responsible.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: Can assent be considered a form of consent? A: While assent can be related to consent, especially in the context of agreement, it does not carry the same weight of informed and voluntary agreement that consent does. Assent is more about the act of agreeing in principle, whereas consent involves a deeper understanding and willingness to participate.

Q: Is consent always necessary in legal agreements? A: Yes, consent is a fundamental aspect of legal agreements, ensuring that all parties involved understand and agree to the terms voluntarily. Without consent, an agreement can be considered invalid or unenforceable.

Q: Can a person withdraw their assent or consent after giving it? A: Yes, both assent and consent can be withdrawn unless bound by a legal contract or agreement that specifies otherwise. In many contexts, particularly involving personal rights and autonomy, withdrawing consent is an important right.

importance of assent and consent in research


What is the difference between assent and consent?

Assent refers to agreement with an opinion, while consent refers to permission for something to happen. In research, assent is obtained from individuals who are not legally capable of giving consent, such as children or cognitively-impaired individuals, while consent is obtained from those who are legally able to provide consent.

Who is eligible to provide consent?

Consent can only be provided by someone who is legally able to give consent, such as a participant who is 18 years or older.

Who is eligible to provide assent?

Assent is given by someone who is not legally capable of giving consent, such as a child aged 7-17 or a cognitively-impaired individual.

What is the purpose of obtaining assent or consent in research?

Obtaining assent or consent ensures the rights and well-being of research participants. It helps to protect the autonomy and decision-making rights of individuals involved, especially when dealing with vulnerable populations. Additionally, proper assent and consent procedures help researchers meet ethical and legal requirements.

What is the form of consent?

Consent is typically given in the form of a consent document, which serves as a record of the individual’s decision to participate in the research.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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