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    #1

    Soften vs Soften up

    Hello!

    The verb 'soften' and the phrasal verb 'soften up' have similar meanings. How do I Know when to use one or the other? Or can they be used interchangeably?

    e.g.
    (An angry wife to her husband)
    You're trying to soften me (up) with all these flowers and chocolate because you know you were wrong!

    Cheers,
    Tito

  1. Grumpy's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Soften vs Soften up

    A good rule of thumb is to use "soften", when you mean it in the literal sense, and "soften up" when you are speaking figuratively.
    For example, I would soften some butter by warming it, but I would "soften up" a target by bombing it.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Soften vs Soften up

    In your example sentence only "soften me up" is correct.

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    #4

    Re: Soften vs Soften up

    Thank you bhaisahab, but why? How does one know when a verb and its similar phrasal verb may be used in the same sentence?

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    #5

    Re: Soften vs Soften up

    See Grumpy's example in post #2.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Soften vs Soften up

    Quote Originally Posted by TitoBr View Post
    Thank you bhaisahab, but why? How does one know when a verb and its similar phrasal verb may be used in the same sentence?
    When strictly defined, phrasal verbs are idioms. They convey meanings that are different from those suggested by the individual words. When Grumpy referred to a figurative meaning, he was referring to a meaning that was not literally conveyed by the meaning of the words in the phrasal verb.

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