Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between “Give it up” and “Applaud”

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These two can give ESL learners a lot of trouble since they can mean the same thing but also have additional meanings which are mutually exclusive. First we’ll learn about what it means when someone says “give it up”. It is used to mean “clap your hands” in recognition for, to welcome, or to congratulate someone for something they’ve accomplished. When used in this way, it is usually used with the word “for”. As in: “Give it up for (someone)”. When used in this way, it has the same meaning as “applaud”.

However, the phrasal verb “give it up” can also carry the idea of quitting or stopping something. Such as “I quit smoking but it was very difficult to give it up.” There is also the related phrasal verb “give (it/something) up”. This is used to mean to stop trying. For example: You’re not going to win this game so you might as well give it up.” You may also say “give up” to mean the same thing. For example: “I can’t figure out this puzzle. I give up.”

But when we think about the use of the word “applaud” the meaning is a bit more limited. The word “applaud” can be both a transitive and an intransitive verb. It is defined as the action of striking both hands together repeatedly to show approval or praise for something. “The audience applauded at the end of the show.” However, this is also done or merely said to show approval of something or someone. “They applauded the actions of the lawmakers to change the law.” In such instances, the usage may not be literal but figurative. “I applaud your efforts to lose weight.” That sentence makes it clear that the person speaking did not literally clap their hands together and applaud them in that sense. Rather, it shows that they acknowledge and support the person’s efforts to lose weight. So, the usage can be both literal and figurative.

Sometimes, as we can see, these two expressions can be used interchangeably. Think of these two sentences: “Give it up for Mr. Smith!” “Applaud for Mr. Smith”. It should be noted that the use of “applaud” in the latter sentence would not be used very commonly since the phrasal verb “give it up” is more natural sounding. Another example would be “The audience gave it up for him once he finished his speech.” or “The audience applauded for him once he finished his speech.” Another related phrasal verb is “give a hand for” or “give (someone) a hand”. It is usually said by a host or chairperson at an event before or after a person is called to the stage for a presentation, performance, or speech.

Although these two may have similar meanings when used in a specific way, they can also have meanings and uses that are mutually exclusive. Understanding the differences can go a long way to improve one’s fluency in the English language.


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