For Students: Pick up!
Updated: Jan 19
When you ask a student what they don’t like about learning English they usually all say the same thing, phrasal verbs. And, yeah, they can be a pain-in-the-bum, but we can usually guess the meaning of them if we pay attention to the context they are in. Students can also sometimes be afraid to use a newly learned phrasal verb in fear of making a mistake, but remember, all they are really doing is replacing a word or phrase. Plus, they really help us sound nice and natural when we use them.
One of the ‘big-boys’ in the world of phrasal verbs is pick up. It has many meanings that can be used in lots of different contexts, from formal to informal. I thought I’d share the most common and useful usages of the mack-daddy pick up to help with your understanding of it. So, let’s get started....
1. To continue doing something after a short break.
Example: Let’s have lunch and then we can pick it up again after we’ve eaten.
2. To lift something from the ground or a surface.
Example: It’s too heavy for me. I’ve tried to pick it up, but I can’t.
3. To answer the phone.
Example: He called me when I was in the shower, so I couldn’t pick up.
4. When someone’s health improves after a period of illness / Business improves after the result of something.
Example: How is your mum? She’s picked up and hopefully will be back at work soon.
Example: After we started advertising online our business has really picked up.
5. To notice and criticise something.
Example: Make sure the room is clean because the landlord will pick up on it!
Note: This phrasal verb is not just pick up, but pick up on something.
6. To collect something or someone.
Example: I need to pick dad up at the airport and then go to the post office to pick up your parcel.
7. To learn something quickly by doing it / To learn something without much effort or trying.
Example: It is hard at first, but you will pick it up and it will be much easier then.
Example: I was in France for a couple of months and picked up some phrases.
8. To be stopped by the police and arrested.
Example: He was on his way home from the pub and the policed picked him up for drink driving
9. To catch an illness from somewhere.
Example: I’ve picked up a cold so I’m not feeling the best.
10. To find something on a frequency.
Example:I bought this new Bluetooth speaker, but my laptop doesn’t pick it up.
Example: When I was younger, we could pick up a few German TV channels.
There you go, now you know some of the many faces of pick up. Now go and use them.... and don't be afraid!
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