I have a question about the usage of "carry" and "hold". According to definition 9 for "carry" in this dictionary:

definition 9 (carry): to have (something) as a result or consequence

, and definition 10 for "hold" in the same dictionary:

definition 10 (hold): to have (a specified quality, feature, etc.)

, it seems the following is possibly standard English:

  1. The plan holds a lot of risks.
  2. The plan holds a lot of benefits.
  3. The plan carries a lot of risks.
  4. The plan carries a lot of benefits.

But I am not sure. What do native speakers think? Are some of the usages of "carry" and "hold" in sentences 1 thru 4 wrong?

  • What we carry we have in our possession. Hence, reward, that which lies ahead as the benefit of some action, is not something a plan can "carry". We would say "That plan is attended by significant risk" but not "That plan is attended by significant rewards".
    – TimR
    Oct 5, 2016 at 9:50
  • Change rewards to benefits and the situation changes.
    – TimR
    Oct 5, 2016 at 11:09
  • @TRomano So, after replacing "reward" with "benefit", all four sentences are now standard English?
    – meatie
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:09
  • It's not a matter of "standard" English, @meatie, but of which collocations tend to be avoided and which tend to be favored. I would avoid "carry lots of rewards' on semantic/stylistic grounds. But there are speakers who treat "rewards" and "benefits" as if they were perfectly synonymous, and they wouldn't blink twice if you said "carry lots of rewards".
    – TimR
    Oct 5, 2016 at 23:36
  • Compare the sentence that has "carries the threat" on this page, which came up in another question here on ELL. businessinsider.com/…
    – TimR
    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


Why not just go with "has"?

This plan has many risks.

This plan has many rewards.

"Carries" has a sense of "brings with", e.g. the fleas carry a disease. So "the plan carries many risks" would be ok. But I would usually use "holds" for something concrete, e.g. the garage holds 20 trucks.

  • @RichardKayser done
    – John Feltz
    Nov 8, 2016 at 18:39

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