abandon, forsake, desert

paddycarol

Senior Member
Chinese, China
abandon, forsake, desert

My God! These three words really puzzled me ! I'm not asking you to interpret them. I just wonder if native speakers are sure to use them properly. Anyway, it is a nightmare for foreign learners.
 
  • wol

    Member
    USA
    USA English
    As a native speaker of American English, I consider them to be very close synonyms. There are idioms, a few specialzed usages and standard expressions that would only "sound right" with the expected word, but otherwise they're often interchangeable.
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    abandon, forsake, desert

    My God! These three words really puzzled me ! I'm not asking you to interpret them. I just wonder if native speakers are sure to use them properly. Anyway, it is a nightmare for foreign learners.
    Hi, Paddycarol. You have my sympathy, it takes half a lifetime to acquire idiomatic English. I think wide reading/conversation with natives is the only sure route. These three words are more or less synonymous, but by custom each one is generally used in certain contexts. I'll have a go at helping:

    abandon: babies are sometimes abandoned (left on doorsteps); a woman or man can be 'abandoned' by their partner. Note: there is another (intransitive) meaning of abandon: to be uninhibited (she danced at the party with wild abandon). It is a crime to abandon domestic animals.
    forsake: this is a more literary word, much used in poetry and songs ('Do not forsake me, Oh my darling!").
    desert: as with abandon, someone may be deserted by a partner (in law, this can be 'desertion'). In a lighter tone, one could say "My husband deserted/abandoned me when we were out shopping and went off to the pub". We would probably not use the past tense of forsaken (forsook) in that context.
    I wish I could help more - perhaps someone else will do much better.
     
    Hi Elwintee.

    If you have a person, who feels lonely, because thinks nobody understands him/her, if he/she feels isolated in his/her own world, doesn't fit well into his/her social group (school, work, few friends), can you use the word forsaken in such context?
    Is it correct to say, he/she has forsaken feelings in his/her mind?

    Thank you.
     

    Trinibeens

    Senior Member
    NYC
    U.S. English
    Hi Elwintee.

    If you have a person, who feels lonely, because thinks nobody understands him/her, if he/she feels isolated in his/her own world, doesn't fit well into his/her social group (school, work, few friends), can you use the word forsaken in such context?
    You could say that "He feels forsaken by the world around him," or "She feels that everyone she knows has forsaken her."

    Is it correct to say, he/she has forsaken feelings in his/her mind?

    Thank you.
    "Forsaken feelings" is not correct. "She has feelings of being forsaken by others" would be okay, but the more common usage is "He/she feels forsaken by" someone.
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    You could say that "He feels forsaken by the world around him," or "She feels that everyone she knows has forsaken her."



    "Forsaken feelings" is not correct. "She has feelings of being forsaken by others" would be okay, but the more common usage is "He/she feels forsaken by" someone.
    Sorry I have taken some time to get back to these posts. I agree with Trinibeens. I would also say of the person who feels forsaken by the world: "He feels bereft." This is a form of the word 'bereaved'. One can feel bereft of hope.
     
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