"It took me five years to fulfill the word I had given"

Is the above sentence idiomatic?

"to fulfill the word I had given" seems bit unidiomatic to me, I don't know why. I'm thinking that there could be some better and more idiomatic phrase in English to mean that.

The context is, I had told one of my friend that I would draw his picture but I didn't. After five years (now), I've drawn his picture and want to say the above statement to him.

I want to know how a native English speaker would say that.

And also I want to know, can I say the below statement when the moment I have finished the drawing,

"It has taken me five years to fulfill the word I had given"

  • 1
    The usual expression is to keep one's word rather than *fulfill it although there's nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence. The word I had given has a poetic rather than an idiomatic ring to it. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/keep+my+word – Ronald Sole Jan 13 '18 at 11:03
  • @Ronald Sole Thanks for your comment. The final action "I've drawn your picture at last" in the context is a finished action. So "keep" doesn't fit here I think. Because "Keep one's word" sounds like "It took me five years to (start keeping) keep the words I had given". But here in my example, the action is a "completed task". So I would like to know how a native English speaker would say this. – Raj 33 Jan 13 '18 at 12:31
  • This sentence is idiomatic -- in the Bible, not in modern English. Also consider "fulfill my promise". – Luke Sawczak Jan 13 '18 at 15:08
  • @LukeSawczak then how would say this. Please suggest me something. – Raj 33 Jan 13 '18 at 15:20

As Ronald Sole wrote, saying "give one's word" is idiomatic but has a poetic ring to it.

The poeticness is compounded by the use of "fulfill".

That word has two different connotations. When you fulfill an order or a shipment, it's modern and commercial.

But in the sense of fulfilling a promise (or a prophecy or prediction), it's poetic. That's why your sentence made me think of poetic Bible verses like John 18:9:

This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled.

If we replace both those elements in your original sentence, we might use any of these variations:

It took me five years to keep my promise.

It took me five years to make good on the promise I made.

It took me five years to do what I said I would.

  • Thanks for the answer. "It took me five years to do what I said I would." sounds simple and fine. – Raj 33 Jan 13 '18 at 18:29

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