Which option fits best the sentence or is the question ambiguous?

Their flight was ..... by bad weather.

  1. postponed
  2. held back
  3. delayed
  4. suspended

For me, 4 is the least possible option but Google searches came up with all of them. Even if only one of them is correct for this sentence, could you explain when I should prefer one to another?

2 Answers 2


The only verbs here that take by in this context are delayed and suspended. You would say a flight was postponed by air traffic control but postponed because of bad weather. And the same problem with by applies to held back.

And generally, one doesn't use suspended with reference to flights.

So the best answer is delayed.


As you stated, all four are correct, but there are some slight differences between them.

"Postponed" and "delayed" both imply that the flight didn't take off when it was supposed to, but still happened. In my experience, "delayed" is the most common word used here in American English.

"Held back" is similar to "postponed" and "delayed". It's a more informal word choice. While its meaning is clear, I don't think I've ever heard it used in this situation.

"Suspended" can be used as well, but it would imply that the flight was cancelled.

  • it is a subtle difference maybe but can a flight be suspended because of weather? I feel like in a scenario like if someone from the airline company violated aviation law, a flight would be suspended similar to someone who is suspended from a job.
    – ELL
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:19
  • @ELL, yes. A flight can be suspended for many things, including bad weather. I think that using "a flight was cancelled" would be a more common phrase though.
    – Ric
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:38

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