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General Writing and Grammar Help/Get away with it - get away with murder

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Question
Dear Ted:

Is there any difference between "to get away with it" and "to get away with murder"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is there any difference between "to get away with it" and "to get away with
murder"?

TO GET AWAY WITH IT -- This phrase implies that "it" is something that you should not have done.  If you GET AWAY with doing that activity, you do not get caught or discovered.

EXAMPLES:  John GOT AWAY WITH cheating on the exam.
Because her father favors her, Jane tends to GET AWAY WITH doing many things that her mother would forbid.'

TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER -- Literally, this phrase means that someone kills another person and is never caught or charged with the murder.

EXAMPLE:  Although Jack murdered his wife over twenty years ago, the police were never able to bring him to justice.  Jack GOT AWAY WITH murdering his wife.

Paolo, there are instances in which "to get away with murder" are used as hyperbole or overstatement.  You can say that something GETS AWAY WITH MURDER, but you don't really mean that anyone has been killed.  The expression is figurative, meaning that a person can do many wrong things and never get caught.

EXAMPLE:  Everyone at school thinks that Joe is perfect; he could GET AWAY WITH MURDER if he wanted to.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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