tear up / down

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Senior Member
Spanish, Spain

I was reading this sentence: "He tore down the girl's photograph, and crumpled it into a ball."

I was wondering whether you could place "up" instead of "down" without any change in meaning.

Thanks in advance.
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It changes the meaning. "Tear down" includes the act of removing it from the wall, but does not suggest that he tore it into pieces.


    Senior Member
    American English (NYC region)
    Different meaning. Tear down would be the action of forcefully removing the photo from wherever it was, while tear up would mean tearing the photograph to pieces.


    "Tore down" suggests the photo was hanging or was stuck on a wall. "He tore it down" means he pulled it violently down from where it was, with possibly a tear resulting from the pull, and crumpled it.

    "Tore up" means he tore the photo into pieces. He wouldn't then be able crumple it into a ball; he could only have crushed the pieces together into a ball.

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