Common Phrasal Verbs with UP

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  • Post last modified:06/07/2021
  • Post category:Phrasal Verbs
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Here you will learn common phrasal verbs with up. Detailed meanings and examples. 

Wrap up, let up, hold up, clear up and more

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Learn and understand the meanings of the phrasal verbs and get your confidence in writing and speaking English. 

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13 Phrasal verbs with up. Advanced English lessons. Improve English from intermediate to advanced with #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles #อังกฤษ #английский #aprenderingles #english #cursodeingles #учианглийский #vocabulário #dicasdeingles #learningenglish #ingilizce #englishgrammar #englishvocabulary #ielts #idiomas

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We have already looked at Phrasal verbs using the preposition AROUND earlier.

There are many more prepositions in English we can use to form phrasal verbs.

So today let’s take the preposition UP and study phrasal verbs with UP.

UP is a very commonly used preposition in English. UP usually refers to something above us.

The ceiling is above my head.
I am going up the stairs to my room.

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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

But when ‘up’ is used in a phrasal verb it has many different meanings.

Here are some examples of English Phrasal verbs with UP and their meanings.

English Phrasal Verbs with up

break up

The usual meaning here is to destroy or dismantle something.


I broke up the Lego model I made. 

I broke up the old wooden table we had in the garden.

However, to break up can also mean to end. Usually, it refers to relationships. When a relationship goes badly we say “that couple who lived next door have broken up. He has moved out of the house”.


The pop group who had all those major hits a few years ago have announced that they are breaking up. They will have their own careers now.

sex up

When someone wants something to look or sound a little more modern then we can use this phrasal verb.


Irina had to make a very important presentation to her bosses the following week. She spent 2 days writing it and showed it to her boyfriend for his comments. He suggested to sex it up a little to make it more interesting. 

English Phrasal Verbs with up

pick up

Literally, this means to lift something off the floor/ground or from the table and carry it somewhere else.


I picked up the package and put it in the cupboard.

Several other meanings of PICK UP are:

1. to improve


The weather has been terrible, rain and winds for at least 10 days. However, the weather forecast says it will pick up by the weekend and the temperature will rise considerably.

2. to collect someone from somewhere


If you tell me what time your flight is arriving I will come to the airport and pick you up.

3. to catch an illness or a bug


Last week John picked up a stomach bug and missed 2 days of work.

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do up

This is quite informal and refers to improving or renovating something.


Peter and Jane and been living in the house for 6 years. They hadn’t done any decoration at that time. As spring was approaching Jane got some paint and designs and they decided to do up (decorate) the house one room at a time before the summer.

clear up

Meaning: to go away, to get better


I stopped washing my face and my skin cleared up.

let up

Meaning: to ease


The rain let up in the afternoon.

pass up

Meaning: to choose not to use (an opportunity)


I passed up an opportunity to work with Google just because I want to spend more time with my family.

Wrap up phrasal verb meaning

wrap up 

Meaning: to wear enough clothes to keep you warm


My mother would always tell me to wrap up warm.

cut up

Literally to CUT UP something is to take a knife or scissors and cut something into pieces.


I cut up that old dress as I never wear it now. I can use it to clean the windows.

make up

Meaning: to become friends again after a quarrel


We made up after our argument but it still feels like there is some tension.

hold up

Meaning: to delay


I was late for the meeting. The morning traffic held me up.

flag something up

Meaning: to draw attention to an issue


This amazing cream is back in stock and I just wanted to flag it up to you.

mess up

Meaning: to spoil something


This hotel totally messed up our anniversary weekend. I was told that the hotel was fully booked for the date and absolutely no rooms available.

mess up

Meaning: to handle something badly and make a mistake


Respondents agreed that politicians messed up the handling of the pandemic.

Next time when you are speaking English, try and use some of the phrasal verbs with up in your conversation. 

More Information

For more information on English idioms, English collocations, English grammar rules and phrasal verbs, check out the following:

Difference between Stand Up and Get Up

English Phrases to avoid answering a question

Don’t forget to check out intermediate and advanced English learning materials at Learning English with the BBC.

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