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Can one fulfill “beyond” a promise? Is it possible to say “extending the fulfillment of a promise”?

I am trying to express that I hope I fulfilled a promise and then some. This is for the acknowledgements of my thesis. I have written: “Many years ago I made a promise to my late maternal grandmother that I would do my best in getting admitted to a university. I hope this effort contributes to fulfilling that promise and beyond just a little bit more.”

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This question is rather vague, and would be much improved if you provided some more details. How would you use such a statement? What sentiment are you trying to convey? What is the context? In its current form, I think this question is likely to accumulate close votes and/or downvotes, so you might want to take another stab at it, and provide some more contextual information. –  J.R. Oct 25 '12 at 10:24
    
I've done that now. Thanks! –  Kent Oct 25 '12 at 11:20
    
Thanks; that context helps a lot. –  J.R. Oct 25 '12 at 12:33
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In business, a common phrase of this nature is "under promise, over deliver". –  Levi Hackwith Oct 25 '12 at 16:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

JLG's and Billy Moon's answers are spot on. I'd add two things:

  • Your thesis does not contribute to fulfilling the promise, which was fulfilled before you were admitted; it contributes to fulfilling something else.
  • Fulfill is a very potent word, and it defeats its potency to employ it in a context where it is merely a stepping stone toward something else. It's like (I date myself) bringing in the Beatles to open for the Monkees. Save it.

I'd go for something more like:

Many years ago I made a promise to my late maternal grandmother that I would do my best to get admitted to a university. I made good on that promise; I hope this effort justifies her insistence and contributes to fulfilling the larger dream she had for me.

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+1 There might be an emoticon for standing ovation but I cannot find it. :) –  Kris Oct 25 '12 at 11:55
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Thanks for the inspiration. The final lines I went with were: "Many years ago I made a promise to my late maternal grandmother that I would do my best to simply get admitted to a university. I hope my current efforts contribute to satisfying further aspirations she may have had for me." It conveys what I wanted to stay a bit more. I think the "I made good on that promise" was a little bit smug since it was obviously given the context. I think adding the "aspirations she may have had for me" arouses more emotion since it brings up a hypothetical. What do you think? –  Kent Oct 25 '12 at 16:21
    
@Kent Excellent. inter alia, Less is More! –  StoneyB Oct 25 '12 at 16:24
    
@StoneyB - Woop Woop! That rephrased quote ROCKS! –  Kristina Lopez Oct 25 '12 at 18:12
    
This is why I love stack exchange - no other forum stimulates a full discussion so well, that always concludes with the best thinking of everyone in the room. This is the right answer. Here here. –  Billy Moon Dec 7 '12 at 12:24

Fulfill is an absolute, so can not be extended. You might however, fulfill a promise, surpassing all expectations. You might also more than fulfill a promise, which in itself implies the promise has been fulfilled.

p.s. congratulations

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Thanks! "surpassing" is the word I was looking for. I wanted to be a little more modest---all part of being a soon to be Dr.! I think I will use: "Many years ago I made a promise to my late maternal grandmother that I would do my best to get admitted into a university. I hope this effort contributes to fulfilling that promise...surpassing the initial expectation slightly." (p.s. would up vote but need a few more reputation points first.) –  Kent Oct 25 '12 at 11:39
    
glad to help. p.s. you don't need reputation to accept an answer –  Billy Moon Oct 25 '12 at 12:09
    
If you cannot extend fulfilment, then how can you have "more than fulfilled"? –  Matt Эллен Oct 25 '12 at 15:23
    
I would say that you can fulfill, and then go beyond, like you can fulfill your duties, and then help beyond that. Hard to explain, makes sense to me. –  Billy Moon Oct 25 '12 at 15:26

An idiom that might suit this situation is that you went above and beyond.

I hope this effort goes above and beyond fulfilling that promise.

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You hope it surpasses her expectations on that promise. –  Fuhrmanator Oct 25 '12 at 15:31
    
I was going to suggest this idiom (above and beyond) and "go the extra mile" –  djm Nov 2 '12 at 19:43

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