I will keep you updated is a polite way to end a conversation about a new project or person. It’s implying that should anything change, you will be informed.
Usually, at the end of a meeting where you’re discussing a project or person, the person talking to you might say to you “I will keep you updated”. This is their way of letting you know that they will inform you of the progress that this person or project has made from that point onwards.
But in this article, I want to be really delving into the etymology, history, and alternatives to “I will keep you updated”. By understanding such a commonly said phrase, we’ll be in a better position to be able to know more about the evolution of our own language.
Why we say it
It can be useful if it’s the sort of thing that you will want to know about. Particularly when it can impact a loved one of yours or the amount of money you’re making.
We like to say it so that we can put people at ease. They won’t have to worry about any changes that might occur, because you have just assured them that should such a thing happen, you’ll let them know.
In some cases, it might not necessarily be worry that plagues your mind, but rather curiosity. We want to know about the progress of something, and being assured we will is going to make us happy.
What Tense is it in?
The use of the word “will” puts this in a kind of tense that we don’t usually use- the future tense. In English class, we didn’t learn too much about the future tense. Most of the time, books and stories are written either in the past or the present.
However, the real world is not English class since many of the rules are thrown out of the window.
The word “updated” adds another dimension to the tense it’s written in, because it’s going to be a constant thing, it’s in the future continuous.
If you were to say “I will update you”, that would be future simple.
Will vs Shall
There is another version of this phrase that you might sometimes hear “I shall keep you updated”. And even among the professional linguists, there isn’t really a formal agreement on when you should say “will” and when you should say “shall”.
Generally, however, most would agree that “shall” sounds a bit more formal than will. However, this is not to say that will should only be used when talking to friends, I very much doubt your boss would mind if you were to say “will” instead of “shall”.
Another common difference is that you would rarely say “you will” as this might come across as bossy. Likewise, you would rarely say “I shall” as this might come across as pompous.
“Update” is a word that most of you will already know the definition of, and to put it in laymen’s terms, to “update” just means to keep “up” to “date”.
This can be talking about informing a person. Still, it can also be talking about making something more modern or improving it some way. Like how you might update your phone or notice board.
The etymology of the word is also enjoyable. “Update” is a verb, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But it just so happens to be a compound verb.
This is when you take two words and put them together to make a new verb. In this example we’re taking the adjective “up”, combining it with the verb “date” and creating a new verb “update”.
Yes, “date” can also be an abstract noun, but in this scenario, it’s a verb because “dating” is the act of setting a date.
There’s plenty of other phrases that have similar meanings. Some of which will be more appropriate for different situations, but here is a quick list of some of the most common.
- I’ll let you know what happens
- I’ll keep you informed
- I’ll keep you in the loop
- I’ll let you know if anything changes
All of these phrases have the exact same meaning as “I will keep you updated” and there isn’t a right or wrong one to use. It will just depend on what you personally prefer saying.
And there’s plenty of others too
Let’s talk now about the times when you’re likely to hear it and to illustrate, I’ll be using three different examples.
During the Corona Virus pandemic, the government understood that many of us were worried about the number of deaths, and when the lockdown will be coming to an end.
Within many of the press briefings, someone would say “The government will keep the public updated”.
The most obvious example would be in the working environment. When you meet with someone to discuss a new project, at the end of the meeting you might say that phrase to tell the other person they’ll be kept in the loop.
And finally, with your family. When your sister wants to know everything about your new child, you might tell her “I will keep you updated”. You want to let her know you’ll be informing her of any new developments.
Rarely, in day to day speech will you say the phrase “I will”. I know it takes less than 2 seconds to say, but there is another way that takes less than one.
It might be argued that “I will” is more formal than “I’ll”, but let’s be honest here, I doubt anyone minds.
“I will keep you updated,” says that you will keep the person you’re talking to informed. Many of us might think it’s just a boring part of the English Language. Still, when you dive into the details, you actually find that there is more on offer than what may initially appear.
It’s incredible how phrases that we use every day and don’t even think twice about have so much behind them, so much to learn. And yet, we rarely ever do.
We just say what needs to be said and then get on with our day.