When you (with difficulty) try to manage or continue to exist in a state or situation where something is lacking (especially money) you use the phrasal verb "get by"; for example:


When we were students we got by on very little money.

But the question is that what verb/idiom do you normally use when one is living with difficulty with someone who you they don't love? Can we use "get by" here too? For instance, can we say:

I don't love him at all, but I have to get by with him at least while my children grow up a bit more.

If not, I wonder what would you use instead.

  • 1
    It looks a bit odd / ambiguous to me. Either make do (accept a less-than-optimum situation), or get on / along (be on good terms with), depending on which sense is intended. Jun 18, 2019 at 16:16
  • I agree with @FumbleFingers. I would add, however, say that you could "get by without him" or "get by in a loveless marriage with him" or even "get by with just him". I'd say get by refers to a lack of something and in the sentence above, it's not clear what is lacking
    – Gamora
    Jun 18, 2019 at 16:24
  • Well @FumbleFingers I am more about tolerating theintended person and as everybody knows it would be a really difficult matter to live with someone who you don't love at all just for some reasons.
    – A-friend
    Jun 18, 2019 at 16:58
  • "get by on something". "get by with a person" means something completely different.
    – Lambie
    Jun 18, 2019 at 19:00

3 Answers 3


As you know there are dozens of phrasal verbs with "get". "Get by" implies "making do in difficult circumstances", but it is not really used when talking about relationships with people.

Instead, I would use "get along"

get along (phrasal verb): 3 : to be or remain on congenial terms

I had to find a way to get along with my college roommate, despite the fact that he snored, kept weird hours that interrupted my study time, played loud music, was inordinately fond of garlic in everything, had the worst eating habits imaginable, smelled like a cesspit, and would not stop talking about baseball. Fortunately he dropped out of school at the end of the first semester, otherwise I might still be in jail for his murder.

(Edit) "Put up with" is another good option, but it implies somewhat less tolerance than "get along":

I put up with my roommate's bad habits, but constantly thought about ways of getting rid of him.

Note: BrE includes the phrasal verb "get on" which seems to have a similar meaning. Not being British, I won't try to explain its use in case I get it wrong.

  • But @Andrew please have a look on the cambridge definition on google.com/amp/s/dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/get-along . It is said that: If two or more people get along, they like each other and are friendly to each other. Example: - I don't really get along with my sister's husband. So it has nothing to do with tolerating someone.
    – A-friend
    Jun 19, 2019 at 6:54
  • Also I think I can use "put up with" instead of "get by on a small money" without any change in meaning. Am I tight? ;)
    – A-friend
    Jun 19, 2019 at 6:59
  • 1
    @A-friend "Tolerate" has various shades of meaning. You can "tolerate" adverse conditions, and you can "tolerate" disagreeable company, but the exact actions required vary between these two. Although it is a synonym for "tolerate", I would not say "put up with" being poor ... but I'm having trouble thinking exactly why. It just doesn't sound right. It's probably best asked as a separate question. By the way, it's "little money" or "being poor", not "small money"
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 16:25
  • 1
    @A-friend actually I disagree with the Cambridge definition. I think the Merriam Webster one is more like my experience. "Congenial" is a word with a wide range of possible meaning. It implies friendly but not friends. You can hate someone's guts but still "remain on congenial terms" with them. Or you can think they're nice, but not someone you'd like to hang out with on a regular basis. For example, I have a congenial relationship with my wife's ex -- I "get along" with him just fine when we (infrequently) meet -- but I'm not going to invite him to our parties.
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 16:28

Your meaning will be understood, but that usage is not common.

If you're trying to emphasize that you're staying with the person, you could use "stick with."

I don't love him at all, but I have to stick with him at least while my children grow up a bit more.

If you're trying to emphasize that you haven't found anyone better, you could use "make do with."

I don't love him at all, but I have to make do with him at least while my children grow up a bit more.

If you're trying to emphasize that you tolerate the person but don't particularly like him, you could use "put up with."

I don't love him at all, but I have to put up with him at least while my children grow up a bit more.

  • I dunno. You say Your meaning will be understood, then you give three different possible meanings. I think that by definition, if something is ambiguous we can't be sure of the meaning (i.e. - we can't understand / perceive the intended sense). Jun 18, 2019 at 16:38
  • I don't think OP's statement is ambiguous, just not common usage. And I don't think my different possible meanings are so different that it implies such. Jun 18, 2019 at 16:49

In this context for your example, I would choose a phrase like "make it work with him while...", or "stay with him while..." or "manage while".

(I think you may actually be misperceiving just slightly the sense of "got by on very little money"-- it's not quite about persisting while something is lacking, it's more about making do with what you have, or making work what you have.)

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