When do you hold out, and when do you last? Come to think of it, when do you endure? And is it all the same in Chinese.
Mice: Give us the answer, Earthman, and we’ll make you a reasonably rich man.
Zaphod: Hey! We’re holding out for 'extremely rich.
Sounds good. We have the idea here of resistance, meeting some challenge, action.
How long can the beseiged Romans hold out against the Judean People’s Front?
Leo Sayer (was it?): It’s cold out, but hold out…
Again, don’t give up.
Hold out, to me, involves some volition or responding to a challenge - even if we’re dealing with an object:
There’s something wrong with the engine, but I think it will hold out until we get home.
Sounds good? You could probably use ‘last’ instead of hold out in this situation too. But what about this?
The water supply won’t hold out for a month.
This sounds wrong to me. We may not be able to hold out, if the water doesn’t last, but I don’t see the water as having any volition or purpose requiring it to ‘endure’. It simply ‘is’, it’s not doing.
It seems like you can often substitute ‘last’ in place of ‘hold out’, but not always, and is it appropriate to do it in the other direction?
Zaphod wouldn’t last for more money. The Romans might last. You can’t tell someone to last, can you? The engine may or may not last, the water ditto. But would you hope the water will hold out?
I think not. Water is passive. Holding out is active.
Energy is passive, so it lasts or doesn’t. Or am I making this up now?
Is it simply a case of countable vs uncountable?
Pedants please step forward and clarify this.
Also, does it really matter? I expect that in Chinese it all translates to the same word so the distinction will be meaningless to any student.