I would like to know the difference between push and give a push when used in the conversation. Why people use the phrase, 'give a push' instead of the word, 'push'? ex) walk=take a walk, shower=take a shower.


They're interchangeable when used for a single short-term event

I pushed him
I gave him a push

I pushed him off a cliff
I gave him a push off a cliff

I pushed the car
I gave the car a push

If something is pushed for a long period, however,

I pushed the car home

is preferable because

I gave the car a push home

might imply that you gave it one push and the momentum impelled it all the way home (fine, of course, if that's what actually happened).

| improve this answer | |

"Give a push" is used when you want someone to push you. "Give" implies that you are asking for the push.

"He pushed me" implies that I did not asked to be pushed. "He gave me a push" means that I asked to be pushed, and he did so.

| improve this answer | |
  • Good explanation, however it is probably applicable only when the object being pushed is the speaker. However, what about the difference between "Give it a push" and "Push it" as a response to "The door is stuck"? – Phylyp Mar 18 '17 at 4:40
  • @Phylyp - no difference in that case. It would have been more complete for me to explain that "Give it a push" is colloquial/informal. "Push the door" - a standard imperative sentence - is not incorrect in any of these cases. – Matt Cline Mar 18 '17 at 22:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.