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How do I rewrite the following sentence so it is more formal, using a phrasal verb in place of the part in bold?

Despite mounting evidence, they continue to stick to their belief.

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1  
“... they maintain their belief.” Not sure why you've mentioned phrasal verbs in the question; they aren't inherently informal, although “stick to” might be. –  Bradd Szonye May 29 '13 at 2:00
    
Well, phrasal verbs always sound informal to me... but maybe it's just that I don't know all the phrasal verbs, and certainly not any one that's not informal. –  One Two Three May 29 '13 at 2:17
    
Hm, Wikipedia does note that they are more common in informal speech. There was a previous question about the formality of phrasal verbs, but the answers didn't really address that aspect of the question before it was closed. –  Bradd Szonye May 29 '13 at 2:37
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My guess is that whoever criticized the original sentence considered "stick to" to be colloquial in the context of beliefs and was looking for something more along the lines of "adhere to." Or you could replace the entire bolded phrase with something like "remain stubbornly loyal to their belief" or even "remain intransigent." –  Sven Yargs May 29 '13 at 2:45
    
"We find it hard to believe that the secondary users would continue to stick to their belief adjustment rules under such circumstances." (books.google.com/…*+belief%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1pmlUfi5IcbRrQe9goGQAQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA) –  Kris May 29 '13 at 6:03

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

One problem with the example sentence is that continue to is redundant with stick to, which already means “to persist; to continue.” Redundancy will exacerbate any informality in the sentence.

Regarding phrasal verbs – they are not always informal, but as Wikipedia notes:

They are commonly found in everyday, informal speech as opposed to more formal English and Latinate verbs, such as to get together rather than to congregate, to put off rather than to postpone (or to deter), or to do up rather than to fasten.

Thus, a simple way to raise the register is to replace Anglo-Saxon verbs like stick with a Latinate verb meaning exactly the same thing:

Despite mounting evidence, they adhere to their belief.

However, there's an even better choice when it comes to beliefs:

Despite mounting evidence, they maintain their belief.

The word maintain means both to keep something up and to affirm a belief, so in a situation like this, both senses contribute to the meaning.

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Agreed continue to stick to could be pleonasmic; however, the same force of implication cannot be achieved by any of the single words here, which obviously is the OP's intention. –  Kris May 29 '13 at 5:59
    
@Kris Perhaps, although in that case I would prefer an intensifier to redundancy: "... they steadfastly maintain their belief." –  Bradd Szonye May 29 '13 at 7:25

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