do up: meaning and explanation

When you do something up, you repair, improve or redecorate something to make it more attractive (e.g. a house or an old piece of furniture) or to make it function (e.g. an old car).

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

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

The got a potential can't to .
The house got a lot potential but can't afford to it up.

The house has got a lot of potential but we can’t afford to do it up.

Notice the useful expression can/can’t afford something/to do something, e.g. I can’t afford to eat out more than once a month at the moment…..If I could afford it, I’d only work 2 days a week.

Discussion questions

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

  • Imagine buying a house. Would you prefer to buy a totally new house, or an old one which you could do up? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these options?
  • In the UK, it is popular to buy old furniture which has been done up. Why do you think people like doing this?
  • Have you ever done anything up? What was it, and were you pleased with the results?

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