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". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 5 '16 at 9:50
  • Change rewards to benefits and the situation changes. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 5 '16 at 11:09
  • @TRomano So, after replacing "reward" with "benefit", all four sentences are now standard English? – meatie Oct 5 '16 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". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 5 '16 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/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 6 '16 at 11:36

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 '16 at 18:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.