English Phrasal Verbs with the Preposition UP
Phrasal Verbs consist of a verb plus a particle:
verb + adverb or verb + preposition or verb + adverb + preposition.
The meaning of this combination is mostly very different from the verb and the adverb or preposition alone.
There are no rules that might explain how phrasal verbs are formed correctly - all you can do is look them up in a dictionary and study their meanings.
In fact many phrasal verbs are metaphorical, and if you understand the metaphors they use, it will be easier to understand and remember their meanings.
Phrasal verbs are mainly used in spoken English and informal texts.
Many phrasal verbs are transitive, meaning that they take an object. Other phrasal verbs can stand alone (intransitive verbs).
Some phrasal verbs are separable (the verb and the preposition can be separated, putting the object in the middle), while others are inseparable (the object must come at the end because the verb and the preposition must stay together).
Correct: Put on your coat.
Correct: Put your coat on.
Correct: Get on a bus.
Incorrect: Get a bus on.
Phrasal verbs with UP, their meanings and examples
UP is a preposition opposite of DOWN.
The most basic use of the word UP is as a DIRECTIONAL PREPOSITION:
Movement in or towards a higher position, from a lower place to a higher place; looking, turning, or pointing away from the ground or towards a higher position;
upright, or moving towards an upright position.
Come up - To come from a lower place to a higher one. Come up and enjoy the view from the tallest rooftop in the county.
Get up – Stand up. She got up from the chair and walked to the door.
Go up - Rise or climb. It is best to go up the mountain in the early morning.
Jack up - Raise a car to be able to do mechanical work. Now I have to jack the car up, so I can change the tyre.
Move up - Move to make space/Move to a higher level. Interest rates are beginning to move up.
Pin up - Fix something to a wall, or other vertical surface, with a pin. She had his photograph pinned up above her bed.
Put up - To build something such as a wall, fence, or house. John was in the garden putting up a fence.
Sit up - Move from lying down to a sitting position. She couldn't sleep, so she sat up and read a book.
Stand up - Rise to a vertical position on your feet from sitting or lying down. A man at the back stood up to ask a question.
Metaphorical uses of up usually derive from its use as a directional preposition.
Talk up - Make something appear more important or significant than it really is.
Stand up for - To defend or support a particular idea or a person who is being criticized or attacked:
We should all stand up for our rights.
INCREASE AND IMPROVE
Up is used to imply increase and is closely linked to visualising its meaning as a directional preposition:
Increased in amount/level;
At or towards an increased number, level, or amount;
Becoming louder, stronger, or more active.
Big up - Exaggerate the importance/Increase the size of muscles by exercise. It was an article bigging up some new writers.
Boil up - Feel a negative emotion strongly/Cook or heat something to boiling point. Anger was boiling up inside me.
Buck up - Smarten up, improve. A week at the beach will buck her up.
Build up - Develop a company/Increase. These exercises are good for building up leg strength.
Bump up – Increase. She’s doing some teaching in the evenings to bump up her income.
Cheer up – Become happier. I tried to cheer him up, but he just kept staring out of the window
Clean up - Tidy and clean. I’m going to clean up in here this afternoon.
Drive up - Force up the prices or costs. The government’s policies are driving up interest rates.
Dry up - Lose all the water from a river, lake/Dry plates, dishes, cutlery, etc, after washing them up. The land had dried up and no crops would grow.
Ease up - Relax, calm down. They waited nearly four hours for the storm to ease up.
Dress up – To put on smart clothes or fancy dress. Let's dress up as ghosts!
Fold up - Make something smaller. His clothes were neatly folded up on a chair.
Follow up - Do something to check or improve an earlier action. The doctor followed up the surgery with other treatment
Ginger up - Make more lively, exciting, interesting, or active. They've gingered up the book cover with a new design.
Grow up - Mature, become adult. I grew up in Scotland.
Heat up - Make food hot. I was just heating up some soup.
Jazz up - Make something more interesting or attractive. He jazzed up the food with a spicy sauce.
Liven up - Make something more interesting or exciting/Improve someone's mood, make them feel more energetic or interested. I'm going to liven myself up a little by going for a run
Loosen up - Become more relaxed or comfortable. I do a few stretches to loosen up before I run
Make up - Stop being angry with someone/Put on cosmetics/Invent a story. He made up some excuse about the dog eating his homework
Man up - Behave with courage or conviction. You need to man up and go get what you want.
Mount up - Increase over time. The costs are beginning to mount up.
Mop up - Resolve a problem/Remove a liquid that has been spilt. He mopped up the milk with a tissue.
Patch up - Fix or make things better. Did you manage to patch things up with Kate after your row?
Pep up - Make something more interesting. A good night's sleep will pep you up.
Pick up - Improve/Learn quickly/Collect. Can you pick up some friends of mine on your way to the party?
Polish up - Improve something quickly. I really must polish up my Japanese before we visit Japan next year
Price up – Work out the price of something. I’ll price up the work you asked for and give you a quote.
Run up - Do or make something very quickly (speed)/Spend a lot of money on credit. He ran up a large credit card bill buying Christmas presents.
Rustle up - Make something quickly without much preparation. Give me a minute and I'll rustle something up for supper.
Save up - Save money for a particular purpose/Collect or store something for future use. She's saving up for a new bike.
Shoot up - Increase quickly. Petrol prices have shot up in the last six months.
Speed up - Move faster/Make something faster. You see drivers speeding up when they should be slowing down.
Step up – Increase. The president has stepped up the pressure on the groups to come to an agreement.
Trade up - Buy larger or more expensive items. To sell something in order to buy something of the same kind that is more expensive.
Turn up - Increase volume, temperature. Don’t turn the TV up – I’m trying to read.
Wash up - To wash plates, cups, spoons etc after a meal. I can help to cook and wash up
Warm up - Do exercises before a sport/ to become warm. Drink this and you’ll soon warm up
Whip up - Make food quickly/Mix liquid food quickly to make it thick and creamy/Make people feel more strongly about something. Let's whip up a light lunch.
FINISH, COMPLETE, TERMINATE
In this case, ‘up’ is used to indicate that a task is completed, in its entirety. It is added for emphasis and to indicate that the verb preceding it was completed or fulfilled.
Burn up - To have a bad fever. "You're burning up!" she said, touching his forehead.
Buy up - Buy all of something. Developers bought up old theatres and converted them into cinemas.
Close up - Completely close something/Join together. The owners decided to move and to close up the factory
Drink up - Finish a drink. I gave the cat some milk and she drank it all up.
Eat up - Eat all of something/Consume. Be a good boy and eat up your vegetables.
End up - Become or do something unplanned. He ended up living in New Zealand.
Give up - Stop doing something that has been a habit / Stop being friendly, end relationships/ Surrender, or stop trying. His wife finally persuaded him to give up smoking.
Fill up - Fill something completely. He filled up the tank with petrol.
Hang up - End a phone call. Greg hung up and sat back in his chair.
Live up - To be as good as someone hopes. Did the trip live up to your expectations?
Pack up - Stop doing something/Finish work/Break down, stop working/Collect things and put them where you keep them. My camera has packed up.
Pull up - Slow and stop a car/Inform someone that they are wrong. Their taxi pulled up outside the church.
Split up - Finish a relationship. Her parents split up a few months ago.
Sell up - Sell a house or business to move somewhere or do something different. They sold up and retired to Spain.
Shut up - Stop talking or making noise/Close for a period of time. Just shut up and get on with your work!
Sober up - Stop showing the effects of alcohol or drugs. I had sobered up by then.
Use up - Finish or consume all of something. I’ve used up all my holiday entitlement, and it’s only August.
Wind up - To come or bring to a finish; end /Irritate someone or increase their stress level. I’d like to wind up the meeting soon.
Wipe up - Remove a liquid from a surface using a cloth. Do you have something I could wipe up this mess with?
Wrap up - Cover in paper/Dress warmly/Finish. We ought to wrap up this meeting and get back to work.
The emergent use is also closely linked to the visual meaning of the directional preposition if you imagine that for something to emerge or appear, it often has to rise.
Come up - Happen unexpectedly. She’s hoping a vacancy will come up at the local college.
Come up with - To suggest or think of an idea or plan. We need to come up with a great idea to make money.
Crop up - Appear unexpectedly. Ben had to go back to work – a problem’s cropped up.
Bring up - Mention/Raise a child. She was brought up by her grandmother.
Build up - To make someone/something bigger, healthier, and stronger. These exercises are good for building up leg strength.
Dig up - Find something that is supposed to be secret/Remove something from the ground. They dug up a body in his garden.
Dream up - Invent something, have an idea. This is the latest gimmick dreamed up by advertising companies to sell their new products.
Fire up - Start a device. Fire up the radio!
Grow up - Arise, emerge. The city grew up originally as a crossing point on the river
Knock up - Produce or create something quickly. It doesn’t take long to knock up some pasta
Pop up – Appear. New weeds pop up in the garden every day
Set up - Start a company. The group plans to set up an import business.
Show up - Attend something or arrive somewhere/Become clear or apparent. The writing didn’t show up very well on yellow paper.
Spring up - Appear suddenly. New Internet companies were springing up every day.
Spew up – Vomit. I was spewing up all night after those mussels.
Start up - Open a business/Begin, especially sounds/Make an engine work. She left the company last year to start up her own business.
Strike up - Start (conversation, relationship). Anna had struck up a conversation with a girl at the pool.
Think up - Create or invent something, especially when lying. She’d have to think up a good reason for being late.
Throw up - Vomit/Produce problems, results, ideas. The new model is throwing up a lot of technical faults
Turn up – Appear. She failed to turn up for work on Monday.
AWAKE and OUT OF BED
Be up - Be out of bed/Have increased or risen. Although it was two o'clock in the morning, I was still up because I had drunk so much coffee.
Get up - Get out of bed. He never gets up before nine.
Keep up - Not let someone go to bed. The noise kept us up until after midnight.
Stay up - Not go to bed. I can't stay up that late.
Wait up - Not go to bed because you are waiting. Don’t wait up for me, I’ll be very late tonight.
Wake up - Stop sleeping or showing signs of tiredness. Another cup of coffee will wake me up.
DIVIDED or BROKEN into small pieces or equal parts
Bash up - Break, damage or hurt by hitting. She bashed the car up quite badly.
Break up - Break into many pieces/Finish a relationship. Break the chocolate up into squares.
Chew up - Cut into small pieces with your teeth. My new trousers got chewed up in my bike chain.
Cut up - Cut into smaller pieces. The electrician cut up the wires that he took out.
Divide up – Share. Divide the children up into groups of four. (same as divide +emphasis)
Grind up - Reduce to small pieces. The seeds are ground up and later digested. (same as grind +emphasis)
Hack up - Chop or cut into small pieces. The killer had hacked up the body.
Mash up - Crush something until it becomes a paste/Break or damage. Mash the potatoes up and put them in a bowl.
Slice up - Cut completely into pieces or slices. Could you slice the tomatoes up? (same as slice +emphasis)
Saw up - Cut into pieces with a saw. They were busy sawing up the logs into two-foot lengths.
Split up - Divide into groups. The children split up into three groups.
Take up - To start doing a particular job or activity (sport/hobby). I’ve taken up knitting.
Tear up - Rip into pieces/Destroy. He tore up her photograph.
FASTENED or CLOSED COMPLETELY
Belt up - Fasten your seatbelt/ Be quiet. Just belt up. I'm trying to concentrate
Box up - Pack things in boxes to move them. I’ve boxed up all my stuff.
Bottle up - Not express your feelings. Don't bottle up all your feelings.
Clam up - Be quiet, refuse to speak. He just clams up if you ask him about his childhood.
Do up - Close or fasten clothes, etc. You don’t need to do up the top button.
Fasten up - Close, attach. It’s getting cold out, so fasten up your coat.
Freeze up - Be blocked with ice. All the locks had frozen up.
Lock up - Close all doors, windows/Lock something in a safe place. I locked up and went to bed.
Tie up - Tie or fasten something securely/Fasten. Tie up your shoelaces before you trip over them.
Tighten up - Make something more secure or function better. My first priority is to tighten up on discipline.
Zip up - Keep quiet/fasten a piece of clothing by using its zip. Zip up your jacket, it's cold out there.
APPROACH in a place that is near where you are
Come up - To move towards someone. A young girl came up to me and asked for money.
Drive up - A vehicle moves near to a person or place and stops. A huge Land Rover drove up.
Go up - Approach/Be built. Office buildings went up all over town.
Run up - To run as far as someone or something and stop. He ran up next to me and started shouting.
Walk up - Go to someone. I walked up to the manager and told him my problem.
COLLECTED, ADDED, or BROUGHT TOGETHER in one place
Add up - To make a mathematical total. We added up the bill to check it was correct.
Count up – Add. Please count up all these books and tell me how many there are.
Draw up - Prepare a contract. Who will draw a contract up?
Gang up - Form a group against something or someone. All right, you guys, don't gang up on me. Play fair!
Link up - Connect, join. The space shuttle will link up with the space station this afternoon.
Line up - Arrange in a line. The books are lined up on a shelf above the desk.
Load up - Fill a machine or vehicle/ gather or buy a large amount of something. The tourists started loading up on perfume and cosmetics.
Marry up - Match, correspond/Join together or compare to see if they're the same. We need to marry up the names on your list with those on my list and see what the overlap is.
Meet up - Make an arrangement to meet. Let's meet up after the meeting and discuss this further.
Pile up - Accumulate/Accumulate in a pile or heap. Please pile up the leaves.
Power up - Turn a computer or electronic device on so that it is ready to use. Well, let's power up so we will be ready to leave with the others.
Scrape up - Manage to collect enough of something you need, usually money. I finally scraped up enough money for a flight home.
Sign up - Give your name to do something/Subscribe. Has anyone signed you up for the office picnic?
Squeeze up - Get more people into a space than normal or comfortable. Let's squeeze up so Kate can sit down.
Top up - Refill something that isn't empty yet. Can I top up your glass?
Wire up - Make electrical connections. We wired up the antenna to the TV-set.
OTHER important phrasal verbs with “UP”
Act up - Behave badly or strangely. My computer's acting up; I think I might have a virus.
Back up - Make a copy of computer data/Support. Don't worry. I will back you up when you need me.
Beat up - Attack violently. The robber beat him up and took his money.
Block up - Fill a space so that nothing can pass. The leaves blocked up the drain.
Call up - Summon someone for military service/Telephone. Please call up the supplier.
Catch up with - To begin to have an effect on someone. The lack of sleep caught up with her, and she began to doze off.
Chat up - Talk to someone you are sexually interested in to get them interested in you. When I left, Sally was getting chatted up by the barman.
Head up - Be in charge. Judy was chosen to head up the department.
Light up - Light or start smoking a cigarette/Illuminate/express a strong emotion, usually happiness or excitement. The coal in the BBQ grill finally lit up.
Lighten up - Be less serious. Oh, lighten up! It’s not a matter of life or death.
Listen up - Pay attention. Okay everyone - listen up! I have an announcement to make.
Look up - Consult a reference work (dictionary, phonebook) for a specific piece of information. I'll look up this person in a reference book.
Mess up - Spoil or ruin/Make something untidy or dirty/Cause mental, physical or emotional problems. They had managed to mess up the whole house.
Mix up - Confuse/Make something lively. Don't mix up the papers on my desk.
Mock up - Make a model of something to show or test it. The produced a mock-up of the new houses in cardboard.
Open up - Start to talk freely about something/Open a shop or business for the day/Allow goods into a market. I've never opened up to anyone like I do to you.
Pair up - Form a pair. Two students from each class pair up to produce a short play.
Pick up on - Correct someone when they say something wrong/React to something. Only one newspaper picked up on the minister's statement.
Pick yourself up - Recover from a fall or problem. It took him a long time to pick himself up after his wife left him.
Put up with – Tolerate. We can put up with John living here until he finds a place of his own.
Ring up – To telephone/record an amount of money by pressing buttons on a cash register. She rang up yesterday to make an appointment.
Saddle up - Put a saddle on and prepare an animal to ride. Let's saddle up and go for a ride.
Settle up - Pay a debt. You buy the tickets and I'll settle up with you later.
Shake up - Upset or shock/Mix things in a container by shaking hard. A new managing director was brought in to shake up the company.
Slow up - Slow the progress of something. Slow up a little! I can't keep up with you!
Soak up - Absorb/Spend time doing or experiencing something enjoyable. Visit the market to soak up the local atmosphere.
Soften up - Weaken/Do things to please someone in the hope that they will do what you want. You're trying to soften me up so I'll drive you to Kate's house, aren't you?
Suck up - Try to ingratiate yourself. He offered to take all that work home because he's just sucking up to the boss.
Take up - Fill or occupy time or space/Make clothes shorter. Homework took up most of the kids' afternoons.
Toss up - Decide something by throwing a coin and seeing which side lands face up/to throw something into the air. Let's toss up to see who goes first.