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"The company withhold producing this cell phone."

or

"The company withhold from producing this cell phone."?

Should the verb withhold always come with "from"?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Apr 11 '17 at 7:44

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Neither of your sentences is idiomatic.

  1. The company withhold from producing this cell phone.

    Withhold is not used intransitively in contemporary English. OED 1, s.v. Withhold, c. calls the intransitive usage, with the sense ‘refrain’, obsolete, and gives citations only from 1650–1817. Most of these are uncomplemented or take a from+nominal or gerund complement, e.g.

    1807 .. No man should withhold from extending his hand to support the fallen.

    But the last citation employs an infinitive complement:

    1817 .. He was incapable of giving, or capable of withholding to give .. an opinion.

  2. The company withhold producing this cell phone.

    There are several transitive uses, but none having the sense ‘refrain from, fail to perform’ You will occasionally encounter withhold in the sense ‘restrain’ employed reflexively; sometimes this takes a from complement; the object of from may be a noun phrase or a gerund clause/phrase. OED 1 gives an example:

    1897 .. Blake, .. though tempted, yet withheld himself from yielding.

  3. Transitive use in the same ‘restrain’ sense is not yet quite obsolete: The Agent restrains some person from an action:

    1912 .. Walpole .. withheld Great Britain from giving support .. to .. Frederick William.

  4. But in contemporary English the only use of withhold I ever encounter is transitive with the sense ‘hold [some desired object] back’from some person who otherwise would expect or be entitled to receive it.

    Employers are required to withhold a portion of an employee's wage for taxes. The mayor's decision was withheld from the public until his staff could come up with an acceptable explanation.

You may be confusing withhold with withdraw from, meaning ‘cease to pursue’ some anticipated action:

The company has withdrawn from producing this cell phone: market research suggested it would not be competitive.

Or refrain or refuse or postpone may be appropriate verbs in this context, depending on what exactly you mean.

  • Maybe my sample sentence is not a good one. What I mean is withhold in the sense of refuse. This might be a better example: A inform B on C but withhold (from) informing her on D. 1) Is it correct to use withhold in that sense. 2) is "form" necessary? – user226537 Apr 10 '17 at 6:54
  • @user226537 Withhold from in this sort of context is obsolete -- see §1 in my answer. In the context you describe A refrain from informing B about D is probably best--it leaves open the question of whether B knows that she is not being informed. A refuse to inform B about D would be used if B asked A to inform her and A explicitly told her they would not. – StoneyB Apr 10 '17 at 13:46
  • Thanks. I asked a related question that I would like to know your view on it. english.stackexchange.com/questions/383808/… – user226537 Apr 10 '17 at 19:43

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