There is a group of expressions using ‘up’ where the ‘up’ is not necessary. For example you can say ‘fill’ or ‘fill up’ and it means almost the same thing. So why do we add the ‘up’? Well one possible answer is that ‘we do it because we do it’ – we have just developed the habit of adding ‘up’. However, often the ‘up’ seems to ‘intensify’ the verb, to make it more ‘complete’.
Look at these examples and see what I mean.
If you are late, you need to ‘hurry up’.
* Please hurry up. We are terribly late.
* We need to hurry up or we will miss our flight.
You can ‘ring up’ somebody on the telephone.
* I will ring you up when I get back.
* You can ring me up if you need any help.
If you cut your skin, it needs to ‘heal up’.
* This will take a week to heal up.
* I cut
myself shaving and it will not heal up.
Before I go on a long journey, I have to ‘fill up’ my car with petrol ( or if I were in the US ‘gas’.)
* I need to fill up my car.
* The concert filled up quickly and not everybody could get in.
When I send a package, I ‘wrap it up’ well.
* Could you wrap this up for me?
* They didn’t wrap it up properly and it got damaged.
If you have something valuable, it is a good idea to ‘lock it up’.
* He did not lock up his desk properly and somebody stole his calculator.
* I think they should lock up pedophiles for a very long time.
If you don’t have enough money to buy something, you need to ‘save up’.
* I am saving up to go on a trip to New York.
* You’ll have to save up if you want to buy a car.
When things are in a mess, you need to ‘tidy them up’.
* We need to tidy up the office before the visitor comes.
* Tidy up your desk. It’s such a mess.
One common use for ‘up’ in phrasal verbs is to indicate
* An upward movement
* An increase
* An improvement
See how that applies to these eight verbs.
If you display something such as a poster, you ‘put it up’ on a wall or a notice-board.
* Have you seen the warning the boss has put up on the notice-board?
* Can you put up a poster in your window?
If somebody is miserable and you want them to be happier, you can tell them to ‘cheer up’.
* You look really unhappy. Cheer up!
* I wrote Pearson a letter to try to cheer him up a bit.
If you are sitting and then you rise from your chair, you ‘stand up’.
* When the President arrives, everybody must stand up.
* Stand up straight when I am speaking to you.
If a party or a seminar is dull, you need to ‘liven it up’.
* You need to liven up your ideas.
* How can we liven up this presentation?
If you want to make something stronger, you can ‘build it up’.
* I have built up a strong team of workers.
* I have been ill and need to build up my strength.
I can’t hear very well these days – I’m old. When you speak to me, you need to speaker, to ‘speak up’.
* Can you speak up? There is a lot of background noise.
* It is a big room. You will have to speak up so that those in the back can hear.
The place where you lived when you were a child is where you ‘grew up’.
* I was born in Scotland but grew up in England.
* Where did you grow up?
If something increases fast, it ‘shoots up’.
* The price of petrol has shot up recently.
* My English scores shot up after I started studying with Pearson.