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Seeing some example sentences of each phrase on my dictionary, I felt "end up with" was used for a kind of negative result and "result in" was more general. Is that correct?

Here are some of the examples I saw :)

  • The game result in a draw.
  • A constant effort will result in success.
  • After years of overwork, he ended up with an incurable disease.
  • to end up with a repair bill of 200 dollars.
  • Welcome to ELU! Could you add the phrases you have seen in your dictionary? – marcellothearcane Aug 4 at 9:32
  • @marcellothearcane Thanks! I've just added the phrases :) – Hiro Aug 4 at 9:44
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    I'd agree that 'end up with' carries a negative connotation. Fairly generally. But with context like 'With constant effort, you will end up with a good degree,' the connotation is obviously dissipated. // 'End up with' can be chosen in order to add the negative tone where required. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 4 at 11:51
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    Also, "end up with" carries a connotation of finality. A person's life could literally end with an incurable disease, but the players of a drawn game can play another to determine the winner of the competition (and in grandmaster chess competitions, frequently do exactly that). To say "the game ended up with a draw" within that context could be confusing. – Monty Harder Aug 5 at 18:27
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    To my ear, "end up with" has connotations of unclear causality: "Not sure how I ended up with...". I also agree that it's more often negative, but it's not unheard of to say something like "I ended up with an extra $100". – Lee Daniel Crocker Aug 5 at 22:21
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It's more about formality and establishing a direct cause-and-effect link than specific outcomes. Here's another non-negative example :

After years of dating idiots, she ended up with the man of her dreams.

"Resulted in" is formal and defines a direct relationship. "Ended up with" is informal, and could suggest that there may have been other factors involved. It's also more ambiguous, as there doesn't have to be a known cause for the effect - it just describes the outcome (her experience of dating idiots might have helped her avoid other idiots, but didn't necessarily lead her to the man of her dreams).

[Apologies for using a gendered fairy tale trope - it seemed to illustrate the point.]

The first example in the question doesn't read quite right : "The game resulted in a draw" or "the game result was a draw" would be better, but you could also say "the game ended up as a draw".

The second example is correct use. The third and fourth are also correct, but could be rewritten :

Years of overwork resulted in an incurable disease.

Poor maintenance resulted in a repair bill of 200 dollars.

In the fourth example, you'd also be establishing what had caused the result. If you want to establish a direct cause, "resulted in" is more precise. If the outcome was more relevant than why it had happened, "ended up" could be the better phrase to use.

This is particularly true where a more emotive point is being made - "ended up with" conveys a sense of finality that wouldn't be made by the word "resulted". In that respect "resulted" can be said to represent a subsequent event, while "ended up" represents a conclusion. Whether this is positive or negative will depend on what happened.

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    I agree with all the above, and think it's a good answer, so I've just given a comment. ('After years of overwork, he ended up with an incurable disease' is obviously a case where cause and effect is strongly implied; I'd say it carries more of a negative feel than '... resulted in ...') If you think the point I make is valid, please feel free to edit it into your answer. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 4 at 11:58
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    @EdwinAshworth - Good point. I hope I've done it justice. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Aug 4 at 12:15
  • Nice explanation. The game resulted in a draw is commonly used however this indirectly relates to mathematics. Maybe you should perhaps make a note of the use in mathematics. When solving an equation we would "end up with" not "result in", – Brad Aug 4 at 13:55
13

Two distinctions have been mentioned already:

  1. "Result in" is more formal than "end up with"

  2. "Result in" indicates that the outcome was a consequence of the subject of the verb.

But there is a third distinction. In "result in", the subject of the verb is an action or a process. So you can say

Driving in the construction site resulted in a flat tire.

but you can't say

* Because he drove through the construction site, he resulted in a flat tire.

On the other hand, the subject of "ended up with" is the recipient of the outcome, not the cause.

Because he drove through the construction site, he ended up with a flat tire.

but not as naturally

Driving in the construction site ended up with a flat tire.

(Some might say the above is OK, but I would be more comfortable with "Driving in the construction site ended up causing in a flat tire." It's the "with" that makes it more natural for the subject of the verb phrase to be the recipient.)

4

A process "results in" an outcome. An actor "ends up with" a reward, cost, or other consequence.

Hence,

I ended up with the hardest task after I missed the team meeting.

*I resulted in the hardest task...

The vote resulted in a tie.

*The vote ended up with a tie.

1

The base meaning is indeed to arrive at a place or in a certain state or position, not necessarily a bad one. Some dictionaries add that this end point was reached after a detour, by surprise, or even by accident. In my usage "end up" would often carry a negative connotation. One possible reason can be that the unplanned surprises and detours usually prevent a different, originally desired outcome: After unexpectedly finding the subway closed, what's likelier: That you end up in a limousine or that you end up walking home?

Here is a list of a few dictionary entries, emphasis by me:

  • Merriam-Webster:

    ... not planned or expected.

  • Collins:

    ... usually by accident.

  • Macmilllan:

    to be in a particular place or state after doing something or because of doing it.

    While this is a perfectly neutral definition, four of the five examples given are negative.

  • Cambridge:

    to reach a particular place or achieve a situation after other activities.

    The examples are neutral and negative.

  • Lexico (Oxford):

    Eventually come to a specified place or situation.

    The examples are neutral or positive.

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