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One of my friends asked me about another friend Jim yesterday, I said

Jim thought he could get a promotion this year but he didn't.

Should I have said this?

Jim thought he could get a promotion this year but he didn't make it.

In fact, Jim did his best to get a promotion, but unfortunately his competitor did better.

Which one is more clear and natural?

Are there any other expressions more natural could be used for the situation?

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    Both are clear and natural. The first is neutral; the second implies that it was an effort, or a challenge. For me he didn't get it would be more natural than he didn't make it.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 17, 2020 at 13:33
  • In AmE, He didn't make it, can also imply someone has died. I would use didn't make it in situations where some type of deadline or limit is not met. Jim tried to get the store before it closed but he didn't make it [in time]. Alice thought she would live to be 100 years-old but she didn't make it [to that age]. As Colin suggests, didn't get it, is easier to understand in your example. Jim is not making a promotion; Jim is getting a promotion.
    – EllieK
    Aug 12, 2022 at 15:10

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Without saying "he didn't make it", your example doesn't make sense.

Consider a different example to yours:

He thought he put his keys in his pocket, but he didn't.

Here, it is very clear that he didn't put his keys in his pocket. Either he did, or he didn't.

Your example uses the word "could", the opposite of which would be "couldn't", so you could say:

Jim thought he could get a promotion this year but he couldn't.

It seems like your example is trying to say that Jim did not receive a promotion, not that it wasn't possible for him. So, you need to say:

Jim thought he could get a promotion this year but he didn't make it.

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