catch up: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb to catch up has several related meanings. When you are behind in some way, e.g. a person is ahead of you in a race, or another company is more advanced than yours, or you do not know the latest news or gossip, then if you catch upyou reach the same level or position.

If a person is ahead of you, then you can catch up by walking or running faster than them.

If another company is more advanced, then you could catch up by investing more money in research and development.

If you are behind on news or gossip, then you can catch up by reading a newspaper or by discussing recent events with a friend.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

Why out coffee ? It good to .
Why we go out coffee next ? It would be good to up.

…Why don’t we go out for coffee next week?…

Why don’t we…? is a good way to make a suggestion to someone, e.g. Why don’t we get a takeaway tonight?

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Think of a time recently when you were behind on something (e.g. work, revision, preparations for something). Why were you behind, and how did you catch up on it?
  • Tell me about the last time you met a friend to catch up. What did you talk about?