Tagging Verbs with “Up” – Transcript

A couple colleagues and I went out for lunch the other day and talked for a couple hours. It was already 2:30 in the afternoon when we noticed we’d better get back to work. The conversation went like this. I said: “Well Gentlemen, let’s finish up!” 

But Gareth, my colleague said “Wait up, I haven’t finished my coffee yet. 

“Then you better drink up!” I said.

My other colleague Tim agreed. “Yeah, we’d better hurry up.” The restaurant’s closing up for lunch anyway. 

“OK everyone,” I said.  “let’s eat up and pay up.”

I’m Paul Preston, and you’re listening to “3 Minute English,” a podcast in English, about English, for English learners 

Did something sound a little strange about that conversation? Maybe you noticed that a lot of the verbs ended with “up.” There was “finish up.” “wait up,” “drink up,” “hurry up.” “close up,” “eat up,” and “pay up.” Wow! But why is the word “up” connected to all these verbs? Well, it’s not because they are phrasal verbs. In fact, with all these verbs, the word up is not necessary for the meaning. For example “hurry up” means the same thing as “hurry” and “close up” means the same thing as “close.” So why the “up”?

In this case “up” is an intensifier. It gives the impression that the verb is done to completion or to the highest possible point. We use this “up” as an intensifier often for certain verbs. Some others are “heat up,”  “meet up” “write up” “read up,” “type up” and many more. I think you might hear native speakers attach up to verbs often to give the feeling of completing the act. But don’t worry, using “up” is not necessary. In fact, many native speakers believe that adding “up” as an intensifier to verbs is completely UNnecessary and a bad habit! You don’t need to use “up,” but listen for it. You’ll hear it a lot. And don’t let it fool you. These verbs are not more phrasal verbs with different meanings. “Up” just intensifies that original meaning.  

For a list of some of these intensified verbs go to the VenturEnglish website and click on the page for podcast #35, Tagging Verbs with “up.” And while you are there, send me a quick message or ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and please rate this podcast in the iTunes store. It really helps people to notice the podcast when it has ratings. I’m Paul Preston. Thanks for listening to 3 Minute English.

Here is that list of “up” verbs!

clean up

close up

drink up

eat up

end up

face up

fill up

finish up

hurry up

lift up

listen up

lock up

open up

own up

pay up

polish up

read up

settle up

shoot up

sit up

stand up

start up

tie up

type up

wait up

wash up

wipe up

write up

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