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  1. #1
    Russian85 is offline Newbie
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    Default Using 'up' after verbs in English

    Dear members of the community,

    As a learner of English I faced a phenomenon of using 'up' after verbs. While the using of it is clear for me in the case of collocation (phrasal verb) when the meaning of the verb becomes absolutly different as in the case of 'give' and 'give up', but not always clear in the case of a slight changing or even absence of changing in meaning as in 'open' and 'open up', 'end' and 'end up', 'clear' (= explain) and 'clear up' etc.

    If 'Thanks for clearing that up' = 'Thanks for clearing that' then why do you use 'up'?

    So, my question is 'Why do you use 'up' so often while it almost doesn't change the meaning'

    What does 'up' eventually add to the meaning?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Using 'up' after verbs in English

    It often adds the idea of completion, but sometimes it does seem to add nothing. Do people never use an unnecessary word in Russian?

  3. #3
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Using 'up' after verbs in English

    "Clear" doesn't mean "explain." It means "remove so that nothing is left, tidy, erase." Clear the table, clear the dance floor, clear the values from the spreadsheet."
    "Clear up" means to "make something understood." Thanks for clearing that up for me. Let's see if we can clear up your confusion on this matter.
    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
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Using 'up' after verbs in English

    "So, my question is 'Why do you use 'up' so often while it almost doesn't change the meaning'

    What does 'up' eventually add to the meaning?"

    To these inconsistent questions: in those cases in which 'up' doesn't change the meaning, 'up' doesn't add anything to the meaning. But it is used because it's become an habitual part of a phrasal verb used with that meaning.
    You'll probably also notice that this happens with "off" and some other pronouns.
    Also, the usage of these phrasal verbs where there is no meaning change is not common. You've identified one - "open" and "open up"; but that only applies to windows. A person can open up about their problems; they can't open about their problems. 'End' and 'end up' have different meanings.
    So basically, the addition of the pronoun does usually change the meaning.


  5. #5
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    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Using 'up' after verbs in English

    There are certainly superfluous but natural usages of "up". Check on is the same as check up on. Look on is the same as look upon. But there's no need to worry. People will understand you whichever you choose.

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