Promise vs premise

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Promise and premise are two words that are pronounced and spelled very similarly. They are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the words promise and premise, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Promise refers to an assurance that something that will be done, accomplished or will happen. Promise may also describe a hint that something is going to happen. Promise may also mean that something or someone holds the potential for being excellent. Promise is used as a noun and a verb, related words are promises, promised, promising. The word promise is derived from the Latin word promissum, which means a promise.

A premise is an idea from which a working theory is derived, or an idea upon which a story is built. Premise is used as a noun and a verb, related words are premises, premised, premising. The word premise is derived from the Latin word premissa which means the proposition set forth.


The Democratic Party of Japan rode to power in 2009 and ended decades of Liberal Democratic Party rule by promising to turn politicians into the true decision-makers and end the practice of bureaucrats calling the shots on behalf of ministries instead of the people. (The Japan Times)

Results of a small clinical trial show promise for treating a rare neurodegenerative condition that typically kills those afflicted before they reach age 20. (Science Daily)

“If the whole premise of the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller investigation, that Russia hacked the DNC emails interfering with the elections, is in fact false and it was a DNC insider as the Nation reports former NSA officials contending, there is simply no rationale for the special counsel to continue investigating the Russia angle.” (The World Tribune)

He recently told Entertainment Weekly that despite the ridiculous shrinking premise and comedic cast members, the film is going to make a serious statement. (The Boston Herald)