I would like to say that a someone cannot leave something because he/she benefits from this something a lot. He/She mainly depends on them. What is the best word that describes it? Should I say "discontinue" or "do without" or something else?

For example:

Humanity cannot do without technology.

A father cannot do without his son. He really loves him.

I can not do without my necklace. It's a gift from my best friend.

Is the expression "Do without" okay in those examples? Or should I use another idiom or word?

  • 3
    Do without, as you have used it, is entirely idiomatic.
    – Mick
    Nov 14, 2017 at 9:39
  • 2
    It boils down to personal taste, but I would only use "do without" in the first case because I interpret that idiom to mean "to function without". So, I would only use that for functional objects, like technology. Tying it to love or emotion seems odd. Example 1: I cannot do without my necklace: it goes perfectly with my dress. Example 2: A father cannot do without his son in this society because only a son can inherit farming land.
    – urnonav
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:58
  • 1
    @urnonav - I think you've nailed it. Going back to the OP's original sentence about the necklace, I think we could change the "do without" to something like: "I can't bear to give away my necklace; it's a gift from my best friend."
    – J.R.
    Nov 14, 2017 at 16:56
  • Yes, it is very commonly used.
    – Lambie
    May 29, 2023 at 18:52
  • In some situations (such as the necklace sentence) "go without" might work better. It depends on context, as others have noted. May 29, 2023 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


I would say that do without in all of those cases sounds the best. Discontinue sounds a bit too formal and can be seen as speaking a bit robotic, especially when taking about a father and his son.


"Do without" is commonly used. The meaning is more literal than how the original poster wishes to use it.

Of the original poster's three examples:

  • The first one is a correct usage of "do without". It implies that a large fraction of humanity would die without technology.
  • A particular father might not be able to do without his son, because he loves him so much. It implies that he would become seriously depressed or commit suicide.
  • The third example's reason does not match the usage of "do without". If the context were about going to a particular event where the necklace would be the difference between having a good time and having a miserable time, then "do without" would be appropriate.

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