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The Difference Between "Wake up" and "Get up" (Uses and Practice Questions; AUDIO Reading Included)

"Wake up" and "get up" are two of the most common phrasal verbs in the English language. They are closely related because of their link to sleep, but there is a key difference between them in this context. Here is the main difference between "wake up" and "get up":

Wake up: to wake; to open one's eyes and become alert after sleeping

Get up: to leave one's bed after sleeping; to rise from a sitting or lying position

A person who hears their alarm in the morning and stops sleeping "wakes up." This same person "gets up" when they decide to leave their bed. Let's look at some examples of each phrasal verb.

Wake up

"When do you usually wake up in the morning?"

"I need to wake up early tomorrow so I can prepare for my job interview."

"No matter what I do, my body always wakes up at 5 o'clock in the morning."

"I woke up late, so I missed my bus."

"I was so tired when I woke up today."

"I had a stomachache last night, but when I woke up this morning, it was gone."

"What time do you have to wake up tomorrow?"

You can also cause someone to stop sleeping by waking them up. The person who is woken up is often placed between "wake" and "up" in this usage, but this isn't always the case.

Grammar reminder: Do not put an object pronoun at the end of a separable phrasal verb like wake up. For instance, you can say "She woke him up," but not "She woke up him." However, you can equally say "She woke Chris up" and "She woke up Chris."

Here are some more examples of this usage:

"Don't wake me up in the morning. I want to sleep in." (This means, "I want to sleep later than usual.")

"My neighbour's car alarm woke me up at 4 in the morning."

"My alarm woke me up at 6am."

"Do you want me to wake you up tomorrow morning?"

"Can you wake up your brother? He's going to be late for school if he keeps sleeping."

Practice questions

What time do you usually wake up in the morning?

Do you usually wake up feeling tired or refreshed?

Who woke you up for school when you were a kid?

Now, let's look at some examples of "get up."

Get up

"I woke up at 6 today, but I didn't get up until 6:30." (You can also say "I didn't get out of bed until 6:30.")

"He suffers from depression, so he sometimes has a hard time getting up in the morning."

"Why are you still in bed? Get up! We're going to be late!"

"I don't want to get up. My body's still sore from working out last night."

"Are you going to get up or stay in bed all day?"

"I got up three times to go to the bathroom last night."

"Get up" can also simply mean "to rise from a sitting or lying position." Here are some examples (note the added prepositions in examples 1 and 3):

"Could you get up off the floor, please? I'm trying to vacuum." (You can also say "Get up from the floor.")

"Would you like my seat? I can get up. I've been sitting for too long already."

"I was stressed out, so I got up from my desk and went for a walk."

"You should try to get up out of your seat every 45 minutes. It's not healthy to sit all day."

Practice questions

Do you get up right after waking up in the morning, or do you lie in bed for a little bit?

How often do you get up in the middle of the night because you need to use the bathroom?

What time did you get up today?

Finally, it's important to note that English speakers sometimes use these phrasal verbs interchangeably. For example, you might hear an English speaker ask one of the following questions without thinking about the difference in meaning:

"When do you wake up in the morning?"

"When do you get up in the morning?"

"When did you wake up today?"

"When did you get up today?"

Our linguistic choices usually depend on what we have in mind at the time of speaking. In the cases I've just mentioned, the person might not be thinking about the time someone left their bed even though they're using "get up." However, to avoid confusion, do your best to keep the difference in mind so that you can speak accurately.

So, why do we have this difference at all? Well, for many people, there is a difference between the time they wake up and the time they get up. This is the case for people who feel tired in the morning or whom are woken up during a period of deep sleep. Perhaps you are this type of person, too. Sometimes, we just want to stay in our bed under a warm blanket, or we feel annoyed when our alarm clock goes off (this mean it activates and starts making noise to wake us up). In these cases, we wake up, but we do not get up immediately.

Well, that's it. Did you learn something new by reading this article? If you enjoyed it and benefited from it--and you would like to support my work--please consider purchasing one of my books. They are available in PDF, eBook, and paperback formats, and they are all written with English learners and teachers in mind. Thank you for your support, and I wish you continued success with your English practice.


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