I have a friend who believes that I can't say I stopped smoking as I have taken it up again (I have given it up and taken it up again a few times before).

I believe that I can say, "I gave up smoking", and that "I stopped smoking", even if I had/have taken up/begun this foul addiction again.


I stopped smoking 30 years ago, but I have taken it up again a few times since then.

I gave up smoking 30 years ago, but I took it up again.

Just because I have taken up smoking again, does it mean that I can't say I stopped smoking at a particular time in the past?

That is, is stopping permanent, or can it be temporary?

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    I have a number of acquaintances who have stopped and/or given up smoking any number of times - only to take it up again. It was only on the tenth attempt that I finally stopped/gave it up myself Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 13:00
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    It is completely legit to say "I stopped smoking a month ago, but unfortunately I've taken it up again", or something of that nature. If you stop at a stop light that doesn't imply you won''t go again, when it turns green. "Gave up" implies a slightly more permanent scenario, but does not mandate that one did not backslide.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


It can certainly be temporary. When you stop a car at a stop sign you expect to start again. You also stop working to take a lunch break, stop cooking when the food is ready etc. etc.

An example closer to yours - if a mother doesn't smoke while pregnant but starts again she's often described as having stopped doing while expecting the baby.

I'd actually say that stopping is less likely to imply not restarting than giving up. Though in the case of smoking everyone knows it's hard to give up; the intention to stop forever defines what's happening more than whether or not it's successful.

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    The car example is what I exactly had in mind when I saw this question. +1. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 18:11
  • "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
    – Airymouse
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:17

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