In my English class, the instructor asked: "What would be your New Year resolution?"

I said, "Giving up smoking."

He passively corrected, "So, quitting smoking! Anyone else?"

What is the basic difference between 'Quit' and 'Give up'?

  • 2
    I don't think he was correcting you. It sounds like he was paraphrasing your answer, which is a common technique teachers use to show that they've understood a student's comment. Your usage was idiomatic and correct, so it makes more sense that he was passively confirming what you said, rather than correcting it. (There are subtle differences between the two, as the answers show, but none of them would make your statement wrong.)
    – 1006a
    Apr 12, 2017 at 6:44
  • Maybe. I would have confirmed by saying, "ah, you want to give up smoking", rather than by trying to introduce a new verb, which (as we can see) may confuse the student.
    – Marinus
    Apr 12, 2017 at 7:26

4 Answers 4


"Give up" has several (related) meanings (Collins English Dictionary):

  1. to hand over; turn over; surrender
  2. to stop; cease
  3. to admit failure and stop trying
  4. to lose hope for; despair of

"Quit" also has related meanings:

  1. to free (oneself) of
  2. to discharge (a debt or obligation); repay
  3. to stop having, using, or doing (something); give up
  4. to leave; depart from
  5. to stop, discontinue, or resign from

So giving up smoking and quitting smoking are very close in meaning, but as you can see there are other uses of these words that are not alike. "Quit" sometimes means "leave"; "giving up" sometimes means "to stop trying."

You could even say "I am giving up giving up smoking" if you decided to quite trying and go back to smoking.


Quite frankly it is an age issue. Language evolves and when we mean one message or idea we can have multiple ways to express this. To give up is a more modern way to express wish to stop. Quit is more decisive way of stating action ,where as give up is more a reference to desires. So the teacher was saying that you would quit not think of giving up. That's my two cents an who


Note: This answer does not necessarily concur with the explanation in the question asked.

You give up something when you find it tough to continue doing it. When you face hurdles in your way and your motivation to thrive dwindles, you give up. Giving up is not considered a strength of character.

You can quit doing something for a multitude of other reasons. It may be prudent to quit when you realize that the goal you are chasing is not viable, or your work is no longer required, or you are on the wrong track. Quitting isn't necessarily a bad thing if you start over with renewed strategy and revised goals.

I found this link to be really helpful in understanding the difference between giving up and quitting.


Was your teacher North American? 'Quit' is more closely associated with American English in dictionaries and means 'Stop or discontinue (an action or activity)'. That is not to say it is not used in British English.

However, in British English it is also normal to say that 'I stoppped smoking' or that 'I gave up smoking'. In the last example 'give up' means 'stop doing something or using something' but it can also mean 'admitting defeat'. Perhaps this is why your teacher chose to correct you.

  • He he was from the USA.
    – user20865
    Apr 12, 2017 at 7:16
  • Okay, so maybe he was not familiar with that usage or was revealing a bias for American English (which isn't meant as a criticism).
    – Marinus
    Apr 12, 2017 at 7:20

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