refrain vs restrain : Common Errors in English

About refrain vs restrain

“Restrain” is a transitive verb: it needs an object. Although “refrain” was once a synonym for “restrain” it is now an intransitive verb: it should not have an object. Here are examples of correct modern usage: “When I pass the doughnut shop I have to restrain myself” (“myself” is the object). “When I feel like throwing something at my boss, I usually refrain from doing so.” You can’t refrain yourself or anyone else.

refrain Meaning(s)

  • (v) resist doing something
  • (n) the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers
  • (v) choose not to consume

restrain Meaning(s)

  • (v) keep under control; keep in check
  • (v) place limits on (extent or access)
  • (v) to close within bounds, limit or hold back from movement
  • (v) hold back
  • (v) to compel or deter by or as if by threats

refrain in News

  1. State's Hispanic Population Tops 500,000

    In New London, town officials have instructed their police to refrain from inquiring about a suspect's immigration status and are encouraging more Latinos to get involved in education and politics.        
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Hartford Courant

  2. Italy Borrowing Costs Rise to Highest Since March at Sale

    Italian borrowing costs rose at auction on signs that central banks will refrain from adding more stimulus to bolster global growth.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Bloomberg

  3. Editorial: Pay hikes of the past come back to haunt county

    It was a familiar refrain. If Sacramento County were to cut his budget by the $10 million initially proposed, Sheriff Scott Jones warned that he would be forced to cut already dangerously thin deputy patrols.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: The Sacramento Bee

restrain in News

  1. Man cuts own throat, arrested in Petaluma

    Published: Monday, June 10, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. Last Modified: Monday, June 10, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. A young Petaluma man cut his own throat Sunday night and fought off family members and police before they were able to restrain him and give him medical aid, Petaluma police reported Monday.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: The Petaluma Argus-Courier

  2. Ariel Castro pleads not guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape and murder (video)

    Ariel Castro used chains to restrain Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight during years of forced captivity in his house, according to recently filed charges against the former school bus driver.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: The Sun Press

  3. IT Companies Back Federal Plans to Battle Patent Trolls

    Major IT companies want to seize the moment in an effort to restrain what they consider to be an abuse of intellectual property rights by so-called patent trolls. In a recent flurry of activity, lawmakers and the Obama administration have taken steps to support large IT companies seeking patent claim reforms. The big IT companies claim that current law overwhelmingly favors the patent trolls.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: E-Commerce Times

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