give up on or give up


Senior Member

The following sentence is from the subtitles of ‘Susan Boyle an unlikely superstar’ video clip.

The situation is the speaker is introducing Susan Boyle to the stage on the town gala day.

“We would like to thank you for putting Blackburn on the map and encouraged young and old that you should never give up on your dreams.”

Dictionaries give the meaning of ‘to give up on (somebody)’ = to stop hoping or believing that somebody will change, get better etc. While ‘to give up something’ = to stop doing or having something. And dictionaries don’t allow the usage of ‘to give up on something’.

Is it a mistake?

Thanks in advance.
Last edited:
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    To give up on can be used not only for "somebody" but also for "something" (especially where there is an implied action) -> we give up on a noun, noun phrase, gerund, or pronoun -> "He gave up on his idea [implied - of building a house.]"

    To give up is used only for an action - "He gave up smoking."

    Here "... you should never give up on your dreams [implied - of being a star].”


    Senior Member
    Thank you for your reply.

    The Oxford dictionary gives an example of usage of 'give up something'- "We'd given up hope of having children." Can they(give up and give up on) be used interchangeably in this context?
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