What is correct usage -- or correct semi-slang usage -- for verb in this sentence:

'he was a boy who got beat up often'


How about:

"He was a boy who was beaten often."


Based on Jim's point that beaten is ambiguous and John Lawler's comment about the requirement for slang usage, consider:

"He was a boy who was beaten up often."

If the requirements of slang mandate that got must be used in place of was, then so be it.

  • 1
    Usage needs to include past of 'beat up'; purpose is literary, not formal, with American/Western slang inflection preferred. So: 'he got beat up' or 'he got beaten up' or 'he was beaten up'? – user92286 Sep 23 '14 at 14:10
  • Why "up"?? _______________ – Gary's Student Sep 23 '14 at 14:13
  • 1
    Beat up is a phrasal verb with the completive up particle; it means 'beat to submission' and refers to the results as well as the action. It's an idiom common with children. For the slang category you request, you're almost on the money; but some other lexical changes might improve it: He was a kid that got beat up a lot. That sounds normal to me. – John Lawler Sep 23 '14 at 14:21
  • 1
    I think just plain beaten is ambiguous. Does it mean he often lost in competitions? Does it mean his parents physically disciplined him, or does it mean that he got beat up by other kids? – Jim Sep 23 '14 at 14:34
  • 1
    In this context, "beaten" implies, to my ear, physical punishment by a parent, teacher, etc., or, less likely without additional context, "defeated." "Beaten up" implies "by other children." Removing "up" therefore changes the meaning significantly. – phoog Sep 23 '14 at 14:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.