Posted by: Idioma Extra | February 25, 2010

Thursday’s Tidbit

Some Common Phrasal Verbs with up and down

*Write down – write up*

The addition of the adverbial particle modifies the meaning of the verb itself to create a new meaning. Sometimes it only modifies the meaning a little, as with these examples, although the usages are still distinct:

write = put pen to paper
write (something) down = write something on paper in order to remember it
write (something) up = record something (usually notes) in neat and complete form

  • You don’t have to write everything down that the lecturer says.
  • I’m going to write up my lecture notes this evening.
  • I’m planning to write my essay on Molière’s comedies next week.

Clearly in these following examples write down and write up would be inappropriate and the non-particle verb write would be the right one to use:

  • My little brother is just learning to read and write.
  • Molière wrote his last play, The Imaginary Invalid, in 1673.

Note that with the phrasal verbs, write down and write up, the particle can be placed before or after the object:

  • I wrote down your number / I wrote your number down, but now I can’t find it.
  • Write up your notes / Write your notes up while they’re still fresh.

However, if the object is a pronoun, it must go before the particle:

I wrote it down.
Write them up.

*come up*

There are a number of different meanings and uses of come up. The addition of the particle sometimes changes the meaning slightly as in these examples.

We would choose to use come up instead of come, if the person we are visiting lives further north or lives in an apartment on a higher floor. In the opposite case we would use come down.

  • Come up and see me some time.
  • My daughter came down to Southampton to visit me last weekend.

In other uses, the addition of the particle means a bigger change:

come up = arise
come up = be about to happen
come up to = approach

  • A number of interesting points came up at our meeting with the client.
  • We’ve got a hectic period coming up so try to work a shorter week this week.
  • He came up to me and asked me for a light, but it’s obvious I don’t smoke.

*buy – buy up*

Buy up suggests spending large amounts of money for large amounts of something, whereas buy simply suggests paying money for something:

  • I’ve bought him a yellow tie with pink elephants for his birthday.
  • They bought up all the old cinemas and converted them into dance halls.

*fix – fix up*

What is interesting about these two verbs is that fix is used in a variety of different ways and with different meanings, whereas fix up has mainly one use and one meaning:

fix = repair
fix = set price
fix = prepare food or drink
fix = fasten so cannot move
fix up = arrange for something to happen

  • Can’t you get the exhaust fixed on your car? It’s making too much noise.
  • Interest rates have been fixed at 4% for the last six months.
  • Can you fix me a sandwich? I don’t have time for lunch
  • The shelf kept falling down so I fixed it to the wall with superglue.
  • We’d better fix up a meeting for next week. There’s a lot to talk about.

Test Yourself!

Complete the following sentences with the correct particle. Some may not need a particle.

  1. The teacher told us the information was going to be on the test on Friday, so we all wrote _______ what she told us.
  2. Jessica’s boss fixed her ____ on a date with his brother. She hopes she likes him or else it will be very uncomfortable in the office on Monday.
  3. Rob’s boss told him an important promotion was coming _____. Rob’s been working overtime since trying to impress management.
  4. Mr. Johnson asked Claire to write _____ all the notes from the meeting in an email and send it out to the whole company.
  5. A: Will you buy ____ me lunch today? I don’t have any money on me.
    B: Sure, but can you pay me tomorrow? My best friend is coming ______ here from up north and I want to take him out to dinner tomorrow.
    A: Sure, no problem!

Answers from the Last Tidbit


h-t-t-p – colon – double forward slash – www – dot – idioma – cr – dot – com


I – love – english – at – idioma – cr – dot – com


www – dot – esl – com – forward slash – students – open parenthesis – intermediate – close parenthesis – quotation mark – preposition – quotation mark – underscore – time

4. #4892&_92a?

Pound symbol – 4 – 8 – 9 – 2 – and sign/ampersand – underscore – 9 – 2 – a – question mark

5. Research;englishrules©+’

Research – semi colon – English – rules – copyright sign – plus sign – apostrophe


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