UP Phrasal Verbs

– Learning phrasal verbs by particle groups – 

It can be daunting or overwhelming to try to learn phrasal verbs in English. There are so many of them!

More than that, there are a lot of books that alphabetically list them, or group them by verb. All of those techniques can work, but might make it a little trickier to remember exactly which verb+preposition/particle means what.

Another way to try is to learn phrasal verbs by particle groups, that is, by the last word in the phrasal verb. Take small chunks of verbs that share the same preposition and try to study those first.

Next, add some more verbs to the list, and keep building slowly over time. Take about ten verbs at a time to study, and try to learn the different meanings. More importantly, try to use them in your daily English practice! Use it or lose it. You need to use the vocabulary to remember and really learn it!

Here is the first of a series of Phrasal Verb lists that I will be adding to my Laura’s English Class materials over the next few weeks.

Phrasal Verbs ending with UP

Phrasal verbs with up tend to have the idea of increasing or stopping. Here are some of the higher frequency phrasal verbs with UP divided into these general meaning categories.

General Group 1 – Increasing or going to completion

Fill up

  1. to put gas in your car (separable)
  2. to make something become completely full (separable)


  • We stopped to fill the gas tank up.
  • Don’t fill up on candy or you won’t eat your dinner!

Grow up

  1. to mature or become an adult (inseparable)


  • Wow, you have grown up a lot since I last saw you five years ago!

Turn up

  1. to no longer be missing (inseparable)
  2. to increase the volume or amount (separable)


  • Has Jack turned up for his work shift yet? He is very late!
  • Can you turn the radio up?

Cheer up

  1. to get into a happier mood (inseparable)
  2. to make someone else become happier (separable)


  • Hey, cheer up! Why are you sad today?
  • Jane cheered her sister up by baking a big cake for her.


Take up

  1. to start a new hobby or interest (separable)


  • Emma just took up boxing last week.


General Group 2 – Finishing

Break up

  1. to end a romantic relationship or friendship (inseparable)
  2. to fall apart or go to pieces (separable)
  3. to become a bad quality internet or mobile phone connection (inseparable)


  • Joe and Betty finally broke up last weekend after dating for three years.
  • Can you break that cookie up into pieces to share with us?
  • Sorry, I can’t hear you. The sound is breaking up!


Wake up

  1. to stop sleeping (separable)
  2. to become aware of a new fact or situation (separable)


  • It’s 10 am! Jim, you have to wake up!
  • He woke up to the fact that things would never be perfect.


Give up

  1. to stop trying (inseparable)
  2. to give something away or get rid of (separable)


  • I don’t understand this homework! I give up!
  • They had to give their dog up when they moved into the new house.


Get up

  1. to stop lying down (separable)
  2. to reach a certain target or point (separable)


  • I don’t want to get up today. Can’t I just stay in bed?
  • We have to get our sales up by the end of the month.

What do “separable” and “inseparable” mean? Check out the links that explain more.

Take these verbs as a starting point for the next week, and then add to them. Don’t forget to use them!

Ways to use them include:

  • Write a short story about an experience you had using these phrases.
  • Talk to your language exchange partner and push yourself to use these verbs.
  • Write a daily journal entry and use these words to talk about your day.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. See you online soon!