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?

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ChrisAlineSLenaSveta TsalkovskaMarisela Recent comment authors
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Hi Chris! 🙂
I’m  sure  everybody can tell us planty different stories when we need to  “run” faster to  catch up . As for me the latest one was when i had changed my job.It was a beautiful  summer time. Nevetheless  I had to sleep less and read more a lot of special books. Thus l quicly cought up on that new level:)


plenty of


The most recent time I was behind on something was on my credit card payments. I should have made my last payment before the fifteenth of March. But I got my payment dates mixed up. So the day came and I didn’t pay in time. Hopefully, I got a message from the bank for a reminder so I could catch up on my payments. The last time I could catch up with a friend was the very last weekend. It was quite a surprise because we haven’t seen each other for about 17 years. He’s from Venezuela and we caught… Read more »

Sveta Tsalkovska
Sveta Tsalkovska

Hi Chris! What comes to my mind is that I usually catch up news in the morning as I work remotely morning shift, so in the evening there is lots of news in our corporate chat which I need to catch up next day. And I love doing it with a cup of coffee 🙂
And also I was ill the last week so these last days after my recovery I catched up while meeting my friends.
P.S. I feel there mistakes so thank you in advance for any corrections


Last week, I had many texts to read, but I hadn’t have time enough to stop and read them. To catch up on my reading, I read at the bus stop, on the shaking bus and every place where I could do this. It’s not the best way to absorve an article’s content, but I tried. The last time I caught up with a friend was a couple of weeks ago. She had changed her college course, so we talked about her new course and our studies. For sure there are mistakes about the tenses used. Present/past perfect tenses are… Read more »

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