Brush Up on your Phrasal Verbs – Part 3

Another day, another set of phrasal verbs for us to learn. Our focus shifts to “Hold up, Act Up and Look up” – three popular phrasal verbs used in English. They can be used in different contexts and situations, but do you know them all? Here are some examples that will help you to understand them better and use them in your everyday life.

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1. Hold up


hold up

This is another joke, and to understand it we need to take a quick look at the following two meanings of the phrasal verb:

‘To hold up’ literally means to hold something/someone up in the air with your hands (like the police officer in the cartoon).

When we landed in the airport our driver was waiting for us; he was holding up a sign with our names on it.

‘To hold up’ can also mean to stop/delay someone for a moment.

You can go if you want to – don’t let me hold you up.

Just a minute! ‘Hold up’ can also be used as a noun meaning to conduct a robbery using threats and/or violence. Think of a film you’ve watched where the bad guys rob a bank – that’s a hold up!

There was a hold up at the local band this morning. Thankfully, no one was injured and the bank-robbers were arrested by police.


2. Act Up

act up

You probably know that the verb to act is used to talk about actors starring* in a film or performing** in the theatre. When used as a phrasal verb with the preposition up it has a different meaning:

‘To act up’ means to misbehave; behave badly or strangely.

My computer has been acting up recently. I think it has a virus.

*To star: to appear as a famous person in a film or TV show. Usually used to talk about actors and performers.
**To perform: to act, sing, or play a musical instrument. Can also mean ‘to do’ (e.g. The doctor performed a serious operation.)


3. Look up

look up

As you know, we ‘look up’ at something that is above us (like the sky, moon, or stars). For example you can look up at a tall building or look up at a bird in the sky. But did you know that it can also be used in the following way?

‘To look up’ also means to get better; to improve.
The weather was terrible earlier, now it’s starting to look up.

Would you like to learn more? Download our Phrasal eBook now and enrich your vocabulary!

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