I was wondering which choice is correct in each example below:

First case:

I spilled a glass of water on the table last night, but Candy came by and we left the home immediately so I didn't clean the table. Today, when I came back I saw that it had ..... on its own.
a. dried
b. dried out
c. dried off
d. dried up

Second case:

Put the cap back on the marker or its tip will...
a. dry.
b. dry out.
c. dry off.
d. dry up.

As you can see, the dictionary definitions do not let a learner to choose between the prepositions. I would appreciate it if you kindly could give me a hand with them.

  • I think 'candy' is a noun (someone's name), so it should be Candy. Correct me if I am wrong. Oct 22, 2020 at 13:45
  • That was a typo @Dhanishtha Ghosh. Thank you for pointing that out. :)
    – A-friend
    Oct 22, 2020 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


These phrases are very similar. Often, more than one will be appropriate. I will try to explain the differences.

A. Dry - The most simple. Something wet becomes more or completely dry.

B. Dry out - Something that you is wet throughout(e.g. the tip of a marker pen or clothes that have soaked up water) has become completely or almost completely dry.

C. Dry off - Something has water on the outside of it(often droplets) and the water is being removed, usually to put it in a more appropriate state for what it will be needed for next. Often but not always due to some external action, such as using a wiping with a towel. Commonly used for someone getting out of a pool.

D. Dry up - A pool or resevoir of liquid dries to the point of having no liquid left. E.g. a spill or a river

Based on these we can choose the appropriate option(s) for your sentences.

Sentence 1: The spill has become more dry so A is fine. The spill is on the table not soaked in so B is inappropriate. Using C implies that the table has done some action to dry itself so this not appropriate. The spill was a pool of liquid and it has completely dried so D is fine.

I saw that it had dried/dried up

Sentence 2:

A. The tip is wet and will become more dry so A is appropriate.

B. The tip is wet throughout and will become more dry so B is appropriate.

C. The tip does not have liquid on the outside of it and is not doing any action to dry itself so C is inappropriate.

D. The tip has a resevoir of liquid that will run out of water so D is appropriate.

Put the cap back on the marker or its tip will dry/dry out/ dry up


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