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Killing people is not a crime you can commit and get away.

Killing people is not a crime you can commit and get away with.

Do both the sentences mean the same thing? Are both of them grammatically correct? Is with at the end of the sentence necessary?

  • Get away and get away with. Does this comparison help? – Teacher KSHuang Mar 21 '17 at 8:34
  • @TeacherKSHuang This is a grammar problem really, not a meaning one, I think (see my post below) :-) – Araucaria Mar 21 '17 at 8:59
  • Hi, lekonchekon. Yes, you need the "with." No, they do not mean the same thing (the first one is probably not the verb phrase you intend here). Grammatically, they're not "wrong," per se, but because your word choice is wrong, then, I would say that the first sentence is not correct. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 21 '17 at 9:40
  • Actually, I had thought this at first as well, @Araucaria, but then I had realized that if the OP had understood the difference between the phrases "get away" and "get away with," the OP would have realized that "get away" would not have even been a consideration in the first place. Not to mention that from the OP's first question, it sounded like the OP had not understood the difference between the two phrases. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 21 '17 at 9:43
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    @TeacherKSHuang Yes, I think your right there. They're both important. Have edited my post to address the meaning component here. – Araucaria Mar 21 '17 at 10:08
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In this post I use an asterix, *, to show when an example is ungrammatical.


Grammar

  1. *Killing people is not a crime you can commit and get away. (ungrammatical)

  2. Killing people is not a crime you can commit and get away with.

The preposition away cannot take noun phrases as Complements:

  • *Get away the crime

However, it can take preposition phrases as Complements:

  • Get away with the crime
  • Get away from here

The original poster's examples have a noun phrase, which contains a relative clause:

  • *a crime [you can get away ___ ]
  • a crime [you can get away with ___ ]

This relative clause has a gap in it, shown by the ___ in the examples above. We interpret this gap through the antecedent string a crime. We can model the noun phrase like this:

  • *a crime [you can get away (a crime)]
  • a crime [you an get away with (a crime)]

We can see that the first noun phrase here is ungrammatical because the gap representing a crime is occurring as the Complement of away. We have already seen that away cannot take noun phrases as Complements. The second noun phrase is grammatical because the gap representing a crime is occurring as the complement of the preposition with. The preposition with can take noun phrase Complements. Notice that in this example the preposition phrase beginning with the word with is occurring as the Complement of the preposition away.

Meaning

With regard to crime related vocabulary, the idiom get away means something similar to escape. The idiom get away with something means to do that thing but not get caught or not get punished. The Original Poster needs the second meaning here. You cannot kill people and not get caught and not get punished. (Or at least that's what the sentence says!)

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    Heh, a total sidebar: Yeah, one should not be able to get away with murder, but as TV shows us.... – Teacher KSHuang Mar 21 '17 at 10:15
  • @TeacherKSHuang Hah! Yes ... – Araucaria Mar 21 '17 at 10:34
  • @Araucaria One more thing. If I used this construction "Killing people is not a crime you can get away with, committing.", would it be grammatically correct, and mean the same thing as the second sentence I used in the question? – lekon chekon Mar 21 '17 at 13:54
  • @lekonchekon Yes, it's grammatical though a bit more clunky. You don't need the comma after with though. – Araucaria Mar 21 '17 at 13:55

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