I have researched the exact meaning of give up as in dictionaries.

But give up in the sentence below seems to have no object words, which means it is used as an intransitive phrasal verb.

We surveyed 500 smokers and found that over three quarters would like to give up.

And in the Macmillan dictionary as in the answer below which Mike added the link in, the intransitive version of give up means to stop doing something that you are trying hard to do, which seems to be inappropriate in this case. And also in Oxford dictionaries there are similar explanations regarding give up.

So I wonder if, also in this case, "give up" can mean quitting smoking.

  • I know the idiom "give up" in the dictionary and searched in several dictionaries. Why I asked this is because there is no object word of this phrasal verb "give up". I wanted to know whether "give up" without no object still holds the same meaning. I am sad. Nov 30, 2016 at 5:34
  • Are you sure the sentence didn't say "give it up"?
    – ColleenV
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:02
  • @ColleenV Yes, I double checked it just now. The sentence is ridiculously from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary itself, and it is an example sentence under the entry for the verb "survey". Nov 30, 2016 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


In this case, Smokers is the object. The only thing specified about these people who were surveyed is that they smoked, thus 'give up' refers to smoking. The sentence could be written

We surveyed 500 smokers and found that over three quarters would like to give up smoking

and be perfectly correct, but also redundant and repetitive. The use of smokers implies that give up refers to smoking. Other examples:

Only one in twenty Londoners said they wanted to move away.

We invited bipedal aliens to try chairs built for those with more legs.

Of those who eat chocolate, only a minority prefer the dark kind.

In each case, it's the earlier object that implies the later.

  • Thank you for the explanation. I am sorry that I am responding so late. I read your answer more than several times but I was a little bit confused. That is why I am commenting on your answer this late. Sorry. :) Mar 1, 2017 at 5:41
  • In your examples, is "In those who eat chocolate..." right as well as "Of those who eat chocolate..."? I am often confused about which to use when referring to a part of members of a group between in and of. Mar 1, 2017 at 5:45


give up: [TRANSITIVE] to stop doing something that you do regularly.

  • His wife finally persuaded him to give up smoking.
  • Giving up his job was the last thing we expected him to do.

So, in short, yes, 'give up' in this context means to quit smoking.

  • Thank you for your answer. But, your example sentences have object words; explicitly smoking and his job. But in the sentence I asked about, there is no object word for give up. Is "smoking" omitted and is it allowed? Nov 30, 2016 at 5:37

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