So, if preterite is formal and clunky, how does a german say "He gave up" in normal speech?
This is my question also; I'm having a hard time deciding when preterite is appropriate. I know the main exceptions (sein, modal verbs) but these questions make me feel quite unsure how to conjugate to past tense when speaking!
If I'm not mistaken, for this particular expression, "er gab auf" would be the best form of "normal speech." But to answer the question you're really asking, the other way would be "er hat (es) aufgegeben."
Okay, I put in "He retired" because when I checked the hint, that was one of the options. Originally, I was going to put "He gave up", but I thought maybe this was one of those slang-y phrases. I think "retired" should be accepted if you are going to offer it as a hint...