Phrasal Verbs With UP Separated into 3 Main Categories to Help You Understand Them Very Quickly


phrasal vebs with up

Do you find it easy to pick up (learn quickly) new English words? Or maybe you recognise the words but find it difficult to understand or remember the meaning? Well, don’t worry! There is always a way to remember different patterns or phrases. So, cheer up (improve your mood) and let’s find out how you can categorise these phrasal verbs for easier memorising.

If you noticed, I said UP two times. A phrasal verb is a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or adverb (or both), and the meaning of this phrase is different from what the individual words would mean when used alone. (PICK UP, CHEER UP)

Let’s imagine that I am helping you with your homework right now, but I have to go out to buy something. I would say: “Let’s FINISH this UP later on.” I will help you to complete your homework later.

DO UP (phrasal verb) Meaning

DO UP (phrasal verb) Meaning
DO UP (phrasal verb) Meaning

So how do the verbs change when we add UP? What does UP mean in this case?

We can determine that the word UP has three USES:

To Increase
To Move
To Complete

Imagine that you are watching television with your friend. As your friend changes the channel, you see your favourite teacher being interviewed but you cannot hear what they are talking about. You say to your friend: “TURN UP the volume please, I can’t hear what my teacher is saying. TURN the volume UP now!” – What you are trying to do is increase the volume so that you can hear it better.

Now, let’s say a child wants to be able to drive a car. He has to wait until he reaches the legal driving age before he is allowed to drive. He might say “I wish I could GROW UP faster so I can drive a car!” – He wants his age to increase quickly so he can do what he wants to.

Your friend is talking to you about something that happened yesterday but she is taking a long time to tell you the story. It is a very interesting and exciting story, and you are anxious to know what happened at the end. You could say to your friend “Could you please HURRY UP and tell me what happened. I want to know the ending!” – You are asking your friend to increase her rate of speech so you can hear the end of the story.

These are all phrasal verbs with UP that show increase.


Now how can you describe movement? How would a verb change here?

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Imagine you are walking alongside with your friends, your phone rings so you stop to answer it. Then you realise that your friends have walked on quite far ahead of you and left you behind! That’s not so good. You will need to walk faster so you can CATCH UP with them and walk at the same pace again. You don’t want to get lost on your own!

What does that mean? When we say CATCH UP, it means you will move forward at a faster speed than before.

Right, let’s try to imagine this situation. You are sitting in front of a computer, and start to feel pain in your back. You need to SIT UP. Just like teachers used to say to their students. You need to alter your slouched position to an upright position to lengthen your spine, so your back doesn’t hurt anymore. So, SIT UP straight!

What do you need to do in the morning when you know you have to go to work or school? Imagine, you are lying in your bed, it is a beautiful morning, but you need to go to school. What is it you need to? You need to GET UP.
Here you would change your position again, sit upright in bed then completely remove yourself from your warm, cosy bed!

What about ‘complete-completion’ of an action?

How much orange juice would you like? Would you like me to FILL UP the glass or do you just want a little bit? Yes, you would like a full glass, so you ask me to FILL it UP. Therefore when we say FILL UP, there is an intention to make something complete. FILL UP the glass to the brim or FILL UP your car’s tank with petrol.

Remember what I said at the beginning about helping you with your homework? I said I would help you FINISH it UP later. This action will be completed, as soon as I return home.

Now we know all three uses of phrasal verbs with ‘UP’.
When you see a sad friend, what could you say to them? CHEER UP, my friend! BLOW UP some balloons and be happy.

Here are some more examples:

– A friend of yours is acting very immature. You tell her she needs to GROW UP (act her age, be more mature).
– When you’re getting ready to go to a special party you need to DRESS UP if you want to make an impression (wear a glamorous outfit).

If that’s not enough, here are even more sentences that include phrasal verbs with UP:

– I always FILL UP my dog’s food bowl with dog food when I see it is empty.
– My mother GETS UP at 5 o’clock every morning to go for a run.
– We couldn’t find a Thai restaurant so we ENDED UP in a Chinese one.
– I need to CLEAN UP my room.

– Give me your phone number and I will CALL you UP when I get to your place.
– I waited for my friend in the park for a long time, eventually I GAVE UP and went home.
– She has MIXED UP all the cutlery in the drawer again!

– We have to WAKE UP at 6am on weekdays.

The above are all examples of phrasal verbs with a combinations of 2 words. As I mentioned at the very beginning, phrasal verbs can also be a combination of three words.

Let’s take a look at some examples here:

Imagine one day in the classroom, your teacher gives you a topic to write about. You ask him for suggestions on how to write the opening paragraph, but he says that you should COME UP WITH  your own ideas in order to show that you are learning and understanding the topic.

Your mum is preparing dinner and asks you to go into your baby sister’s bedroom to CHECK UP ON her and make sure she is sleeping comfortably. You should check to see that she isn’t crying or about to fall out of bed; make sure she is okay.

Your friend is always talking about her incredibly clever dog, and it is starting to annoy you because she just doesn’t stop talking about it! You are FED UP OF hearing about the genius poodle. You have had enough and don’t want to hear it anymore.

All your siblings are intelligent and successful. Your parents have high expectations of you to be the same and make them proud. You feel under pressure to try really hard so you can LIVE UP TO their expectations. You don’t want to disappoint them, so you try your best to do what they expect.

Phrasal verbs are mainly used in spoken English and informal English. I hope this blog post has LIVED UP TO your expectations!

I hope you find it easier to SPEAK UP now. Let us know if you need our help! We are always here to help you!

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4 years ago

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