Give up (on)

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Feb 10, 2008
Member Type
Student or Learner
When the cold case unit was formed in Los Angeles, detectives faced a daunting backlog of 9,000 unsolved murder cases dating back four decades. But killings don't get any colder than the 1957 murder of two young cops during a routine traffic stop. Investigators had all but given up on the case -- one of the oldest unsolved homicides in the country -- when modern technology finally caught up with justice.

Hi Teacher,

I wonder whether I remove " on" away and the phrase "given up the case " is correct. Are the meanings of the two same to each other?

e.g. I give up drinking


Senior Member
Jul 22, 2007
Member Type
English Teacher
This is a difficult question. I feel a slight difference in meaning here. I will try to explain but I'm not sure I will do it well enough.

give up is not to difficult to understand it has several closely related meanings - stop, surrender, etc.

"give up on something" is more specific in some way for me it has the idea of "give up hope of success"

So if you use "give up the case" it would mean stop investigating it completely for some reason. On the other hand if you use "give up on the case" it means you "give up hope of ever being successful in solving it" this doesn't necessarily mean you have "given up" the case - murder cases are never technically "given up" as in this case new techniques could come along and it could be solved.

I hope that helps but it's difficult to be clear about the difference. :)
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