Promises

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Promises

Post by Stevenloan » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:07 pm

Hi everyone! Is it correct to say the following sentences to tell someone to keep his or her promise?

1. Do not make idle promises.
2. Don't break your promise.
3. Keep your promise.

Thanks a lot!

StevenLoan
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Re: Promises

Post by tony h » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:50 pm

An idle promise is one made casually that you may have cause to regret.
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Re: Promises

Post by Phil White » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:11 pm

They are all okay, Steven, but would probably be used in different circumstances. These are some likely scenarios, but different people will feel differently, and the usages will certainly overlap.
  • Do not make idle promises.
    Said when somebody promises to do something that the listener does not expect them to do. Also used ironically when someone makes an exaggerated promise ("I swear I will lock all politicians up and throw away the key." "Don't make idle promises.")
  • Don't break your promise.
    Said to remind someone of their promise at some time before the promise is due to be fulfilled.
  • Keep your promise.
    Said if you expect someone to break a promise imminently.
Generally, 2 and 3 are much the same, but I feel that 3 is a little more urgent.
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Re: Promises

Post by tony h » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:01 pm

I'm going to hold you to that [promise].
You had better be a man of your word. (Note: this only works with "man". Using "person", or "woman" doesn't work.)
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Re: Promises

Post by Phil White » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:36 pm

tony h wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:01 pm
You had better be a man of your word. (Note: this only works with "man". Using "person", or "woman" doesn't work.)
Hmmmmm, it is certainly unfamiliar, but I don't think I would raise an eyebrow to see or hear them. And Google gives about 350,000 hits for "woman of your word" and around the same for "person of your word". It only gives about 750,000 for "man of your word", so I think we can say that both usages are well established.
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Re: Promises

Post by Stevenloan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:11 pm

tony h and Phil White : Thank you both very much for your answers. They really help.

StevenLoan
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Re: Promises

Post by Shelley » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:07 pm

I can appreciate that "person" or "woman" of one's word doesn't scan as well as "man of his/you/my word". That might be what tony h was getting at when he says the inclusive versions "don't work." There are ways around it though: "I/you/she/they had better keep my/your/her/their word", for example.
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Re: Promises

Post by tony h » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:09 pm

Shelley wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:07 pm
I can appreciate that "person" or "woman" of one's word doesn't scan as well as "man of his/you/my word". That might be what tony h was getting at when he says the inclusive versions "don't work."

Indeed so. Although I would assume "woman" was similarly exclusive. :)


You also get it the other way round to mean someone honours their promises. These all work in female or neutral versions.

  • He is a man of his word.
    He is as good as his word.
    You can rely on his word.
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