I'm reading a book and I found this sentence.

One of the most important things to bear in mind today is that economics isn’t an exact science. It may not even be much of a science at all, in the sense that in science, controlled experiments can be conducted, past results can be replicated with confidence, and cause-and-effect relationships can be depended on to hold.

What does "on to hold" mean in this sentence?

Thanks in advance.

  • One can depend on cause-and-effect relationships to always behave in the same way ('to hold'). cf 'Boyle's law holds for an ideal gas during isothermal changes.' Commented Jun 1 at 18:48
  • You've incorrectly parsed the sentence: it's "can be depended on" + "to hold". You can use a dictionary to look up the meaning of "depend (on)" and "hold" (the latter in its intransitive usage). Commented Jun 2 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


You are parsing the sentence wrong.

"On" does not belong to "to hold" but to "depended".

To "depend on" something is to rely on it. "Cause and effect relationships can be depended on" means people can rely on them.

"To hold" describes what aspect of them can be depended on. One can rely on the fact that they hold.

"Hold" here means "continue to apply, to still work".

  • Thanks for your kind answering to my silly question. Commented Jun 1 at 1:10

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