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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Promises, promises

Episode 220418 / 25 Mar 2022


Neil’s promised to do something nice for Jiaying, but she has her doubts – so why is she going on about promises and promises? Listen to this episode to learn a new expression about not believing someone’s promises.


Hello and welcome to The English We Speak with you, Neil…

…and you, Jiaying. And today, Jiaying, as it’s your birthday, I’m going to make the coffee…


No, I insist. And I’m going to buy the biscuits – not the cheap ones this time…

Really?! Hmm, promises, promises!

That’s right – two promises – make the coffee and buy nice biscuits – it is your birthday after all.

When I said ‘promises, promises’, I was being sarcastic!


When we say ‘promises, promises’ to someone, we are being sarcastic because we don’t really believe that someone will do what they said they would do. Sorry, Neil, I was saying I don’t believe you’ll do it. Let’s hear these examples….


Promises, promises! The plumber said he’d be here at 8am – but he isn’t.

A: Next time, I will remember to bring some money to pay for dinner.
B: Promises, promises!

My boyfriend says he’ll take me to Venice for a mini break. Promises, promises!

This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English and we’re talking about the expression ‘promises, promises!’ which we can say to someone if we don’t believe they will do what they say they will do. So, Neil, what about this coffee and biscuits you’re getting – are they ready yet?

Well, I haven’t got much time at the moment, and I need to borrow some money to buy the biscuits.

Like I said, promises, promises! But it doesn’t matter, I’ve been trying to tell you that it’s not my birthday today.

Oh. Why didn’t you say! Well, when it is your birthday, I will make the coffee and buy the biscuits.

Not the cheap ones?

No, the expensive ones. I promise!


Yep, I never break a promise.

OK Neil, if you say so. Bye for now.


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