An ELL post says

As most people will recognize that 'studying' does not last forever, it should be a given that it will end.

where "given" is used as a noun.

Cambridge Dictionary gives this definition about it

something that is certain to happen

Is it reasonable to see "given" as something like "promise"? In other words, are "given" and "promise" interchangeable in this kind of cases?

1 Answer 1


No, "a given" and "a promise" are different.
"A promise" means an assurance given by a person or other entity that something will be true or take place by their efforts.

"A given" means that that thing should be assumed as true.

In your example, no one is promising that study will end; rather the speaker is declaring that it is obvious that it will end.

The use of "given" here may come from mathematics, where it is often used. For example, "given length and width, calculate the area of the rectangle."

Sometimes, a speaker will say "I promise that..." when they are declaring that something will be true as a matter of fact, but not by their efforts. This is a metaphorical use of "promise" and should not confuse the issue.

  • Thanks for your comprehensive explanation. By "promise" I didn't mean an assurance given by a person, though it appears to be that. Actually, I was trying to say something like "I promise that..." to convey the meaning that something should be assumed as true, as "is certain to happen". Neither involves anyone's effort. Based on this context, is there other alternatives to the word "given"?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 21, 2020 at 5:11
  • You might look up the following, garnered from a google search for synonyms of "given": assured, certain, established, known, assumed, specified, stated, set... and so on. Mar 21, 2020 at 5:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .