• Alex

Learn 10 "up" phrasal verbs (with practice questions)

Updated: May 30


Are you ready to explore and increase your English vocabulary? Make sure to free up 10 to 20 minutes for this, and write your own examples in the comments.


Remember: Some phrasal verbs are separable, some are inseparable, some are transitive, and some are intransitive. To help you use the 10 phrasal verbs below with confidence, I have clearly indicated their possible forms. I hope you will find this vocabulary easier to understand and use because of this.


As a quick reminder, a transitive phrasal verb needs an object, and a separable phrasal verb is a transitive phrasal verb that can have its object placed at its end or its middle. For example: "Who put that painting up?" and "Who put up that painting?" The one additional rule to remember with separable phrasal verbs is that you cannot place an object pronoun at the end of a transitive separable or inseparable phrasal verb. If you use an object pronoun, it must be placed in the middle of a transitive separable phrasal verb. For example: "Who put it up?" and not "Who put up it?"


And now, here are 10 phrasal verbs that use the word "up."


free up (time or space)

separable, transitive

to create time or space (on one's schedule, in a room, etc.); to move something so you have space for something else


"If you remove this desk, it will free up a lot of space in this room."

"Are you free next week?" "I'll see if I can free some time up on my schedule."

"Thanks for freeing up some time to meet with me today. I really appreciate it."


Practice: Is there anything you could discard or move in your room to free up some space?



put up (a painting, a picture, a poster, a job advertisement, a notice, etc.)

separable, transitive

to place/post something on to a vertical surface, or on a website


"Their company put up a new job posting on their website."

"Could you help me put up this painting in the living room?"

"Who put this note up in the bathroom?"


Practice: What was the last thing you put up in your home? (a picture, a painting, a note, a calendar, etc.)



bring up (a topic, a question, an idea, etc.)

separable, transitive

to introduce a topic for discussion or consideration


"Janice has brought up an interesting question. What does everyone think?"

"I'd like to bring a new topic up for everyone's consideration."

"Why did you bring that up? It wasn't the time or the place for that conversation."


Practice: What is a topic you would like to bring up to one of your teachers or coworkers?



catch up

inseparable, intransitive

to hear and learn the latest news about something or someone, or to learn what you have missed (You can catch up ON something, or WITH someone)


"I'm behind on my homework. I need to catch up."

"Hi Giulia. Are you free for coffee next week? It would be nice to catch up."

"Sorry, I can't go out tonight. I need to catch up on some work."


Practice: Whom is a friend you'd like to catch up with? Answer: "I'd really like to catch up with (the name of your friend)."



fill up (a gas tank, a bowl, a pot, etc.)

separable, transitive or intransitive

to fill completely


"Could you fill up the car with gas today?"

"Do you need to refill your water bottle?" "No, I just filled it up."

"The restaurant quickly filled up with people."


Practice: If you have a car, how much does it cost to fill it up? (with gas) If you don't have a car, what was the last thing you filled up?



get up

inseparable, intransitive

to leave one's bed after sleeping; to move from a sitting or lying position to a standing position


"When do you get up in the morning?"

"I got up late today."

"What time do you normally get up on weekends?"


Practice: What time did you get up this morning? Answer: "This morning, I got up at/around (the time)."



grow up

inseparable, intransitive

to become mature; to move from childhood to adulthood (sometimes used as a synonym for the verb "live" when discussing where one lived during childhood)


"Where did you grow up?"

"He's so immature. He needs to grow up."

"We grew up in Dublin, but we moved to Glasgow when I was 13."


Practice: Where did you grow up? Answer: "I grew up in/on..."



make up (a story, an excuse, a reason, etc.)

separable, transitive

to create or invent something


"Daniel is always making up excuses."

"This is a really good story! Did you make it up by yourself?"

"My mom will be home soon. We need to make up a reason for this mess."


Practice: Can you think of a time you lied to your parents and made up a story or an excuse?



pick up (someone or something)

separable, transitive

to buy or acquire something from a location; to get someone from a location (usually with a vehicle)


"Could you pick up some soap from the store?"

"My parents picked me up from school when I was a kid."

"I'll pick you up with my car in 30 minutes. Be ready."


Practice: Do you need to pick anything up from the grocery store or the market this week?



set up (something)

separable, transitive

to arrange or organize something so it is ready to be used (a printer, a cell phone, an office, etc. You can also set up an event, a marriage, a meeting, etc.)


"Could you help me set up my laptop? I'm not good with technology."

"Who set this room up? It looks great!"

"Thanks for helping me to set up the photocopier. I couldn't have done it without you."


Practice: Did you set up your cell phone by yourself, or did someone help you? If you do not have a cell phone, what was the last meeting or event you set up? (arranged/organized)



That is all for today! How many of these phrasal verbs were you already familiar with? Let me know in the comments, and write your own examples to practice.


Finally, if you enjoyed this article and you would like to learn MORE phrasal verbs, pick up a PDF, e-book, or physical copy of my book 100 Practical English Phrasal Verbs. It has only high-frequency language, over 900 examples, and multiple definitions. I wrote it for English students and teachers who want to learn or teach practical vocabulary with real contexts. Take a look and let me know if it helps you.

Until next time, thanks for clicking, and I wish you success in your studies.

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