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  1. #1
    yoojin is offline Newbie
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    Default pick up this vs. pick this up

    Hello, I'm Yoojin. I've come here to get some help for grammar.
    I read a grammar book. In the chapter on phrasal verb, it says that if the object is a pronoun that should be put between the (transitive) verb and the adverb. I believed that is also true for such objects as something, anything, this, that, etc. and that the sentence like 'pick up this' wouldn't be grammatical.
    But.. I saw this on Wikipedia:
    In phrasal verbs, pronouns must appear between the verb and particle. Determiners may occur after the particle.
    pick it up
    *pick up it
    pick this up
    pick up this
    I don't understand how 'pick up this' is correct. If 'this' in 'pick up this' is a determiner, a noun should be followed, shouldn't it? Hmm... Is a noun left off there? =/ And I think only 'pick this up' could be correct, because 'this' is a pronoun and is placed between the verb and the adverb. (If I'm wrong, please point it out.)
    If "pick up this" stands alone, please tell me how it could be.
    Last edited by yoojin; 02-Mar-2011 at 10:39.

  2. #2
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: pick up this vs. pick this up

    Hello Yoojin,


    The word this is a determiner, and it can stand alone. When that happens it's called a substantive, meaning it substitutes for a noun ([2]):

    [1] Pick this mess up.
    [2] Pick this up.
    [3] Pick up this mess.
    [4] Pick up this.

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: pick up this vs. pick this up

    I can't say I like "Pick up this." It sounds as unnatural to me as "Pick up it."

    When you've reduced the noun phrase to just the word "this," it needs to slip in between the parts of the phrasal verb to sound natural to my ears. Pick this up.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. #4
    Coolfootluke is offline Member
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    Default Re: pick up this vs. pick this up

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I can't say I like "Pick up this." It sounds as unnatural to me as "Pick up it."

    When you've reduced the noun phrase to just the word "this," it needs to slip in between the parts of the phrasal verb to sound natural to my ears. Pick this up.
    I am not a teacher.

    I agree, but I feel like there is a context I'm not thinking of. Look at "Pick up this and this."

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: pick up this vs. pick this up

    Yes, if you are standing there and pointing to whatever "this" is, it can work, but as a general statement, I wouldn't use it.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: pick up this vs. pick this up

    And a belated welcome to yoojin.

    We hope you enjoy the forums and resources of Using English.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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