Maria: You need to put on some smart clothes for our recordings.

Rory: Does that mean I need to dress up?

Maria: Yes. Dress up! What does dress up mean.

Rory: It means that you dress in a very fancy way to get ready for something.

Maria: Yeah. Last night it was my birthday, so I dressed up.

Was it your birthday last night?

Maria: No, I'm lying.

Rory: Okay.

Maria: So, I put on some smart clothes.


Maria: We should make our episodes more interesting and attractive.

Rory: Does that mean that we should jazz them up?

Maria: Yeah, well done! Jazz something up to make something more interesting or attractive. For example: "I just dubbed the food with some spicy sauce." Or for example, you can also say: "I should really jazz up my PowerPoint presentation." So to make it super interesting.


Maria: Rory, you need to behave with courage (or conviction) and take this exam.

Rory: Does that mean that I needed to toughen up?

Maria: Oh, very close.

Rory: Harden up?

Maria: No, you can say that. But I have something else in mind.

Rory: What do you have in mind?

Maria: Man up! You should, man. Yeah. If you man up, you start behaving with courage or conviction, for example: "You need to man up and get what you want"

Rory: It is important to point out the toughen up and harden up are the same thing, though.


Maria: Oh, I hate when all these ads appear on my screen.

Rory: Are you sick of having to put up with them?

Maria: Oh, that's a good one. Put up with them and actually put up with is a multipart phrasal verb. Put up with because there are two prepositions, something else, something about ads. So I hate when these ads appear on my screen.

Rory: Is that when they pop up?

Maria: Yeah, well done. So if something pops up, it appears. For example: "We have endless advertisements, ads pop up." Right. Rory, well done. You've passed the test. You have an A!

Mechanics of phrasal verbs with UP

To divide something

Maria: The first meaning, the preposition up means to divide something

Rory: Or to break something into small parts.

Maria: Yeah, or equal parts. Small equal parts. So, for example, we can say

Rory: Break up or split up when we talk about a relationship. You can also split things up into groups. So you're taking them from one pole and pulling them into different parts.

Maria: Yeah, about the relationships, I can say: "Hmm. Last month I broke up with my boyfriend", for example.

Rory: That's sad, but what's not sad is our jokes. And if you like our jokes, then you might crack up, which means to break a smile and you sort of split your face with a smile.

Maria: Yeah. For example: "Every time I listen to IELTS Speaking for Success podcast, I crack up". Is it correct? So I laugh a lot.

Rory: The form is correct. I don't know if people will crack up our jokes. If they do, they might need to have their taste questioned.

Maria: Or: "I was cracking up during lectures at university." I was cracking up. I was laughing out loud, clutching my stomach on the floor.

Rory: If you're listening to our podcast, you might cut it up into small pieces and listen to them one part at a time. But you're probably more likely to cut something up like food, for example.

Maria: Cut it up.

Rory: Like, cut up a steak.

Maria: Hmmm. Can I cut a presentation up?

Rory: You can cut a presentation up. That happens. Talking about steak that you might cut up. You might also need to mash up the potatoes so you break the potatoes down from being one big potato into a paste.

Maria: Mash it all up. You can also slice up things, when you take a lemon.

Rory: Slice up the onions to get them ready for your steak. Yeah, but you can slice up a lemon too. Do you have lemon on your steak? I thought you had lemon with fish.

Maria: Why not, you know. To jazz up your steak. You can slice up some lemon. Yeah. So slice is like, small, thin pieces, so slice it all up.

Rory: Everyone likes steak though so you might have to divide it up into equal parts to share amongst people. But maybe you're not so accurate you might tear it up instead, which means to rip something. And usually when you tear something up it's not in equal parts, you have it in different parts and you destroy it.

Maria: So with your bare hands, like, tear it up, the steak.

To make things better

Rory: So it can mean to divide things or break them up, but it can also mean to make things better,

Maria: More attractive or more exciting.

Rory: Yes. So our podcast might cheer you up.

Maria: Yeah. Or "Oh, come on, cheer up!" Like, feel better. We want you to feel better.

Rory: You might want to brighten up your day to make it better. To make it nicer.

Maria: Yeah. Like brighten up. When the weather improves your mood improves. Like, it rained all week and then it brightened up. So the weather brightened up. Can people brighten up?

Rory: People brighten up. Usually when we talk about bighting up we talk about people's moods, actually. I rarely hear it talked about in terms of the weather. But when it brightens up, the sun comes out and your room might get stuffy. So you'll need to freshen up.

Maria: Yeah, to freshen up. Can I say fresh up?

Rory: No, it's always freshen up.

Maria: To freshen up - wash your face, brush your teeth, change your clothes to be kind of like, oh, got all fresh for work or school. Freshen up for example: "I need to freshen up." Like, I need to wash my face and get all fresh.

Rory: And once you've freshened up you might liven up, which means that you're more alive, your mood is improving and you have more energy.

Maria: So like: "I'm going to liven myself up". Liven myself up.

Rory: When I want to liven up, I drink an energy drink.

Maria: Yeah. Liven up - to make something more interesting, exciting or to improve someone's mood. Like, to feel more energetic. If you live something up, you improve it or make it more interesting or lively.

Rory: And if you want to liven up someone's mood, you could talk them up, which means to talk about them in a very, very positive way, almost exaggerated.

Maria: So, for example...

Rory: "Whenever I'm in a bad mood you always talk me up."

Maria: I talk you up?

Rory: No. You talk me up to different people, I imagine.

Maria: So, I talk about you in a positive way. I talk about you and say that you are the best of the best of the best of the bestest Rory best. So I talk you up, right? So I describe you in a positive way

Rory: And that will spice up my reputation. So if you spice something up, you make it more interesting or more exciting.

Maria: Yeah. I usually say, like: "How can we spice up our IELTS classes? How can we spice up our podcast?" So if you spice something up, you make it more interesting, more exciting. You can spice up your life, spice up your sex life, spice up your trip to an exotic country or spice up your relationship.

Rory: But in order to afford that trip to a country, you'll need to save up some money, which means that you will have to, well, just collect money for some kind of future purpose. Like, I'm saving up for Christmas. I'm saving up for a trip. I'm saving up. What am I saving up for?

Maria: A Gucci bag?

Rory: No. You are saving up for a Gucci bag, I'm saving up for university. Different priorities, but equally valid. 

To come to an end, finish or stop something

Rory: The Gucci bag will last forever, but university will come to an end, which we can also use up to me. So up can mean to finish or to stop something. You can finish up university, which means that you finish it completely or you can wrap something up, which means you bring it to an end.

Maria: Yeah, wrap something up. Like, to sum up, or let's wrap it up. Like, wrap - you wrap a present.

Rory: I'm terrible at wrapping presents, so halfway through I usually give up.

Maria: Oh, never give up. Keep going. Keep going. Rory. Yeah. We keep going with this episode and we never give up. Give up. Stop trying. Quit. So for example: "Give up learning English." So give up doing something.

Rory: But if you don't stop giving up then you might wind up or end up feeling frustrated, which means that you become or that you do something that you didn't plan to do.

Maria: And wind up, Rory, that's your favorite one. Wind up.

Rory: Yeah! Wind up can be lots of different things, actually. So it can mean to bring something to an end or it can mean to irritate someone. But usually, I mean to bring something to an end. I rarely wind people up.

Maria: Yeah. So we can say end up, wind up. What's the past of wind up? Wound?

Rory: Wound up! He wound me up.

Maria: He irritated me. Or I can say that: "I wound up living in New Zealand.

To create something

Maria: You're just making things up, which means that we've moved on to our next part of the meaning and use of UP, which means to emerge or start something or create something. So if you make something up. It means that you've just created something that's probably not true.

Maria: We make up a lie, a reason, an excuse, a story. "Stop making up these excuses". So make up - to imagine, to create.

Rory: None of our explanations are made up, though.

Maria: No, they're true. You should believe everything we say. Exactly.

Rory: Our podcast was dreamt up by Vanya. He invented something or had an idea.

Maria: To dream up - to have an idea or invent something, for example...

Rory: I dreamed up the podcast.

Maria: Hmm. Not you, Vanya. Vanya dreamt up the podcast.

Rory: Yes, but I came up with all of the examples to string this together. So when you come up with something, it means, well, when you come up with an idea, it means that you create the idea initially or to begin with. But something can also come up in the course of a conversation. So it just means that you weren't planning on talking about it, but the thing appeared.

Maria: So, for example, you can say: "Oh, I came up with this genius idea how to spice up our podcast." Or: "Some problems came up." They appeared.

Rory: Problems can come up and they frequently crop up as well, which means that they are unexpected.

Maria: So come up and crop up are the same?

Rory: Yeah, but usually things crop up is more negative and come up with is neutral.

Maria: Hmm. So for example: "A vacancy came up" or "Problems come up" or "The problem has cropped up".

Rory: Exactly. And if you want to hear more examples, you might want to look them up in a dictionary!

Maria: To look for information, to look it up. So it was Rory's birthday and I didn't go to his birthday. I never showed up. or I never turned up, which mean arrive or appear somewhere.

Rory: Exactly. Even after all of the lengths I went to set everything up...

Maria: Which means to create something...

Rory: Usually the conditions for something to happen. "You set up a computer so it could work. You set up a date so that you can have coffee."

Maria: You can also set up a business - to start a business, set up an organization, set up a program, set up an account.

Rory: But you can't set up a business without drawing up a plan!

Maria: Which means create a written document, draw up a plan, a proposal or a contract. You see, this will be something really natural to say. You don't say; "Oh, I created a plan. I drew up a plan.


Rory: So those are our main ones with up, there are some important exceptions. For example, we frequently mess things up in the podcast and we have to rerecord things again and again. So when you mess things up, you spoil it or ruin it by accident.

Maria: Yeah, mess up - to spoil or ruin. For example, once "Rory messed up his microphone and we recorded one hour and a half just in vain".

Rory: I was very frustrated, So I acted up, which meant I behaved very badly.

Maria: So you acted up meaning, like what, you are screaming, like: "Aaaaargh where are the recordings?"

Rory: Yes, that is the diplomatic way of putting it. But Maria, you put up with my terrible behavior.

Maria: I tolerate his horrible behavior. I put up with him. I put up with his behavior. You can say: "I can't put up with this". So, I can't tolerate it.

Rory: So you might have to go outside and soak up the sun.

Maria: Soak up means absorb spend time doing something enjoyable. So soak up the atmosphere usually when you are going on a holiday. "Oh, I was walking down the street soaking up this beautiful atmosphere of Amsterdam."

Rory: And after your holiday in Amsterdam, you'll need to meet me for coffee so we can catch up! It can mean to share information with people, but it also means to come to the same level or standard as someone. So if we're running Maria, I will have to run fast to catch up with you.


Phrasal verbs with UP can mean to divide or to break something into small pieces like you break up with your partner. But it can also mean to make something more attractive or exciting, like to jazz up and it can mean to finish something, like, to wrap it up, to give up (give up smoking). Let's wrap it all up. And lastly, it can also mean to emerge or to start something. Like, to make it up completely.