Finish it off vs. finish it up

Guest   Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:27 am GMT
A little help! what is the difference between the two when saying:

"finish it off" and "finish it up" ?

Uriel   Fri Aug 18, 2006 8:48 am GMT
I guess they vary slightly in an idiomatic sense. If you have injured something or someone, and you want to go ahead and kill them, you say "Finish them off!" Likewise, if there's only one cookie left in the jar, and your brother is feeling particularly generous (or has secretly spiked it with Ex-Lax), he might say, "Go ahead and finish it off." So it seems to involve a sense of permanence to the consequences of the action.

"Finish it up" seems to refer more to a concern about the time frame needed to get a job done, and to the fact that you are in the last stage of accomplishing your task. "I'm just finishing up my homework" implied that you're almost done, rather than just beginning. Likewise, if your mother tells you crossly to "Finish up those dishes and go take your bath, she's probably implying that you're taking too long with the dishwashing, and you need to geth them done and move on to the next task.
Benjamin   Fri Aug 18, 2006 1:41 pm GMT
One other point — both terms are not used in all variations of English. I speak RP (or Standard British English), and although I understand the meaning of 'finish it up', it isn't something I'd ever use. Instead, I'd only use 'finish it off' in both circumstances which Uriel (from the US) described.
mike   Sat Aug 19, 2006 7:07 am GMT
Thanks both for your comments. In fact, propositions are the hardest to keep up with. And by the way, Benjamin had a different point from Uriel on the use of "off" and "up". Is it just different indivisual's point of view, or is it American-British point of view?

Are all propositions have same way of use in different english dialects?

**Canadians would also say 'finish it up'.
Benjamin   Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:56 am GMT
« Is it just different indivisual's point of view, or is it American-British point of view? »

It's difficult to say, really. You're right — prepositions are probably one of the hardest things about English, and there is a lot of regional variation with in Britain and probably within the US as well. For example, I would say 'I go to the library', because I speak the so-called 'standard' dialect. However, a lot of people near where I live would say 'I go up library'. However, the second version would not be acceptable in written English.

So, in my view, it is perfectly acceptable for you to 'finish it off' in both situations... but you'll probably have to understand a whole range of other possibilities!
Uriel   Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:27 pm GMT
It may well be a dialectical thing. I just know that you tend to use one phrase in certain expressions and the other in others; I would never say "finish OFF those dishes" or "finish UP that pizza". So to me, they are slightly different in connotation.
Drucbewk   Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:23 pm GMT
Hallo, im from AUS and I don't even remember whether i used such a phrasal verb.Maybe its 'cause im from AUS.Anyone here from AUS can tell me he's heard such a phrasal?I lived in South Africa Republic for many years.Maybe my English is a bit influenced ;) Whadeva, byex...
Guest   Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:35 am GMT
Hulloww. Yep, I can't speak for South Africa but such is commonly used in Australia and appears universal. "Finish up your what you're doing" ... "finish it off" when you're on the verge of beating that creature in some video game. In lots of circumstances the two are interchangeable.
Joey   Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:30 pm GMT
In South Africa we use "Finish off what you are doing."