to keep up: meaning and explanation

to keep up with somebody/something = to stay level, equal or up to date with somebody or something.

Imagine a parent walking quickly along the street with their child behind them. If the child is walking slowly, the parent might turn around and say, “Keep up!”. They want the child to stay level with them, not to fall behind.

If you say, “I can’t keep up”, it means that it is too difficult or impossible for you to stay at the same level as someone or something.

We can also use this phrasal verbs to communicate the idea of staying up to date with the news or developments.

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

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

I run with couldn't her.
I went a run with friend but couldn't keep with her.

Discussion questions

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

  • When you listen to native speakers or watch a film or TV program in English, do you find it difficult to keep up?
  • Do you like to keep up with current affairs? How?
  • Think of a time when you couldn’t keep up with something – tell me about it using the phrasal verb.

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