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What's the difference between you have my word and I promise?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

There's not a lot of difference. However, "You have my word" could be construed to imply that you have previously (already) promised (given your word) and this statement is a reaffirmation of what was said before, whereas "I promise" implies that you are just now giving your word. OTOH, "You have my word" could be taken as present tense too, and would then essentially be the same thing as "I promise".

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Thanks, this one is quite an insight to me! – brilliant Jan 9 '11 at 5:09
I think you would rather say "I've given you my word" when referring to an existing promise. I've never heard "You have my word" to mean anything other than "I promise" - In my opinion they are completely equivalent. – UpTheCreek May 2 '11 at 19:37

There is really no difference. It can be argued that "You have my word" is a bit stronger, because "my word" means the person is taking an oath, in effect guaranteeing based on that person's honor, but that is a very fine point indeed. A promise means the same thing:

promise: a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that guarantees that a particular thing will happen

one's word: a promise or assurance

So one's word is a promise. No difference.

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+1 I can't see any difference in the meaning. – UpTheCreek May 2 '11 at 19:38
This seems like the right answer. I think the only difference, if it exists, is one of register; the meaning (at least to me) is totally equivalent. – David John Welsh May 17 '13 at 11:25

'You have my word' derives from the civalric code. One would literally have to stake their word, synonymous with their honor, upon completing whatever was agreed upon.

A promise remains similar, however no catagorised honor is laid upon it (although its recommended to keep promises).

This is perhaps best summed up in stating that if some-one has given their word and not fulfilled it, it may be said they are 'not a man of their word' or 'their word means nothing'

However if a promise is broken, whilst not particularly well reflecting on ones character, the person's 'word' or catagorised honor remains intact as it was never staked upon the result.

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"You have my word" and "I promise" is the same thing, and it remains to be fulfilled.

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protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 16:10

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