On The Up & Up

Dear Tutors:

Today tutor tips make a return after a three-month hiatus.
Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and an accompanying phrase, for instance to catch on to [something] or take a shine to are two phrasal verbs with the preposition to. There are phrasal verbs with get, for instance, get around, get along, get down (and funky), get by. But you can’t deny that a lot of phrasal verbs contain the word up. Below is an e-mail that people have sent me at least three times (original source unknown) in the past two years. A tip of the hat to Beth Gleisten, who sent the message most recently.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car . At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP . We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. I f you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time....

Here is a little table I created while trying to figure out some of the rules for using phrasal verbs with UP. You can fill out more UP verbs yourself and see if you can find your own patterns.

Tear/break/mess up

To do something completely—to tear, break or “mess” something beyond all repair.

Turn up [volume]

rev up [an engine]

brighten up

cheer up

To increase something—volume, revolutions per minute, brightness, cheer. Used as an intensifier.

Wise up

Straighten up [& fly right]

Grow up

Wake up

To become something—wise, straighter, grown, awake

You can find more on phrasal verbs in many popular English language texts, e.g. Betty Schrampfer Azar’s Understanding and Using English Grammar, which is in the LitNet library, and Basic Phrasal Verbs by Richard Spears, which isn’t. You can, however, find lots of information on this and other grammar topics by using the South Central Library System’s on-line catalog, Link Cat. The address is easy to remember: www.linkcat.info. That’s it for this week.