I gave up with the crossword in the end. It was too difficult.

The reference is from Phrasal Verb Quiz #10 .

Is "give up" a phrasal verb and "up" is a preposition?


Is "give up with" a phrasal verb and both "up" and "with" are prepositions?

My guess is that only the first is correct,

because give up can exist independently in a sentence without "with".

Is my understanding correct?

Or both the first and second are correct. Why?

  • 1
    The phrasal in English is "give up on sth." – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 9 '16 at 17:42
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    People often give up chocolate for Lent, for example, and you wouldn't expect a second preposition there. Nor would I expect one in give up the struggle, say. I think maybe it's illustrative to compare 1) I gave up the fight and 2) I gave up on the fight. To my mind, the first works for a fighter conceding defeat, but the second implies a boxing promoter who's decided not to push for some match to take place, or a bored spectator who's decided not to bother watching the rest of the fight. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '16 at 18:09
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    @user9418: "wrong" is way too strong. It's almost certainly true that give up on sth is more common (in AmE as well as BrE), but with is perfectly acceptable in your context. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '16 at 18:12
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    Another potentially illustrative example: 1) I give up with you!, 2) I give up on you! It's just a nuance that might apply, and certainly not something that every native speaker would either use themselves or recognize in another's use, but I'm inclined to see #1 there as more likely to mean I was trying to persuade you of some specific point, but arguing with you is tedious, so I won't bother any more. As against #2, which means I think you're bad and getting worse, and I'm no longer prepared to make any effort to help you. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '16 at 18:22
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    @FumbleFingers +1 for a very important caveat. These sites are ubiquitous. (Not only that, they're everywhere.) This section on phrasals was likely written by a non-native speaker. There are stylometrical clues here and there, e.g. It is not this straight forward though. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 10 '16 at 1:42

You are correct. "Give up" is a phrasal verb, and "with" is a preposition.

Note: "give up on" is indeed more common than "give up with." But to my ear, both are OK. (According to Google ngrams, "give up on" and "give up with" were almost tied 60 or so years ago, but the "on" version is now by far the dominant one.)

  • "Up" is also a preposition! – user36764 Sep 9 '16 at 19:03
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    The ngram for I gave up on the / I gave up with the shows almost zero instances of the "with" usage. Most are Google search errors of the form "I gave up. With the..." The sole modern example is a forum comment by someone who may be a non-native speaker. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 9 '16 at 19:52
  • The ngram is the coolest site on English learning I have ever seen. The site showed "Ngrams not found: I gave up with the" from the corpus BRITISH English. So I know more than before. – Stats Cruncher Sep 11 '16 at 0:34
  • If you just compare "gave up with" and "gave up on" you get much smoother curves, and there are a few other modern examples. But Dant's point is well taken - most of the supposed hits are like Dant describes, or say, "she gave up with a shrug, and...." – Mark Foskey Sep 14 '16 at 0:31

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