I could not find an appropriate meaning of "swear" to explain in the sentence, as it does not make sense in the context .

In the dictionary "swear" means:

  1. If someone swears, they use language that is considered to be vulgar or offensive, usually because they are angry.
  2. If you swear to do something, you promise in a serious way that you will do it
  3. If you say that you swear that something is true or that you can swear to it

But the context is:

"She" is the grandma of Thomas and she practically raised him up ; she missed him so so much that she had been distracted for days since he moved out with his mother, Treena, who went back to university to study. This is the first time Thomas and Treena came back home since they moved out.

Therefore, I could not understand why "she swore". Shouldn't she be happy? What does it mean why did she swear?

Here is the sentence:

On the third Saturday of May, Treena and Thomas came home. My mother was out of the door and up the garden path before they had made it halfway down the street. Thomas, she swore, clutching him to her, had grown several inches in the time they had been away. He had changed, was so grown-up, looked so much the little man.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

could anyone help please?

3 Answers 3


The sentence is written as indirect speech, which means that it’s a paraphrase of what the grandma said to the narrator. If it was direct speech it might look like this (although I can’t be sure if the tense/pronoun changes are true to the story without further context):

“Thomas,” she swore, clutching him to her, “has grown several inches in the time we were away.”

“Swore” here means to affirm something is true, which corresponds to the first definition you quoted.


This is a fairly common usage in the southern US. In context, it means she was emphatically certain (as you would be if you were to swear to something being true). You might hear this in a phrase like 'He was so tall I swore he was over seven feet high.'


From Cambridge Dictionary, swear also means:

to promise or say firmly that you are telling the truth

In this context, she (the grandma) swore that Thomas had grown several inches since she last saw her, i.e., she was sure about it.

  • can I understand it in this way: ", she swore, ", in stead of being a parenthesis, but actually being the subject and predicate verb of this sentence; while, "Thomas", which I had thought being the subject of this sentence, turned out to be the object of "she swore", as an inversion?? this sentence structure is also confusing.
    – user86301
    Dec 24, 2018 at 11:56
  • Sorry, I am not sure about the sentence structure.
    – CinCout
    Dec 24, 2018 at 12:05
  • 1
    @CinCout You could rephrase the sentence in this way: As she clutched Thomas to her, she swore that he had grown several inches in the time they had been away. Dec 24, 2018 at 15:00

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