Expressing obligation


Expressing a promise

s an English language learner, sometimes you will need to express promises. This page provides different ways to make promises. The following points will be covered:

  1. A definition of the term "promise".
  2. Asking for a promise.
  3. Making promises.
  4. Responding to promises.
  5. Promise idioms.

What does the word 'promise' mean?

1. A 'promise' is a declaration or verbal commitment that one will do something in the future or that a particular thing will happen. Here is an example:

"I promise I will never let you down"

2. A 'promise' may also refer to an indication of something favorable to come or of future excellence or success as in the followoing example:

"She shows considerable promise."

3. Synonyms of promise include:

  • word of honor
  • word
  • assurance
  • pledge
  • vow
  • guarantee
  • oath
  • commitment

Asking for a promise

  • Promise me that you will do as I told you.
  • Do you promise to take care of my son?
  • Make me a promise to be kind to her.
  • I want you to promise that you’ll love me forever.
  • Can I consider this as a promise?
  • Is that a promise?
  • Do you give me your word on that?
  • Do you swear that you won’t let me down?

Making promises:

  • I promise that I will help you.
  • I promise not to do the same mistake again.
  • It’s a promise.
  • I give you my word on that.
  • You have my word on it.
  • I promise that I will do my homework.
  • I swear I will never hurt you.
  • I swear I won't break your heart.
  • I assure you that I will finish the job on time.
  • I assure you that I will send you all the information you need.
  • Believe me, I won't disappoint you.
  • Trust me, I will help you.

Responses to promises:

  • All right. Keep your promise.
  • I hope you'll keep your promise.
  • I hope you won't go back on your word.
  • Thank you. I believe you.
  • I hope you will keep your words.

Idioms with the term promise

1. A promise is a promise

If you say that a promise is a promise, you emphasize that a promise should be kept.


You said you would help me. A promise is a promise!

2. A promise made is a promise kept

A promise that one makes should be viewed as a promise that one will undoubtedly honor.


The commitments made to our clients must be honored, a promise made is a promise kept.

3. Breach of promise

This refers to a violation of a promise one has made.


You promised you would help me, but you didn't. That sounds like a breach of promise to me!

4. Empty promises

Promises that cannot or were never intended to be honored.


He has to stop taking drugs, not just make empty promises.

5. Keep a promise

To fulfill one's promise.


If you can't keep your promises, you shouldn't make them in the first place.

6. Promise someone the earth, the moon, or the world

To make promises that are not feasible or cannot be honored.


Don't promise your customers the earth, if you are not able to honor your promises.

7. go back on (one's) word

Not to honor a promise.


Most politicians go back on their word when they are elected.

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