pick up: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb to pick someone/something up is extremely common and useful, and means to collect someone or something.

This could be a person (for example, you might ask a taxi driver to pick you up on the corner of your street, or you might offer to pick up your friend from the train station) or a thing (for example, maybe your car has been repaired, and you need to go and pick it up from the mechanic).

Note that this is a type 2 (separable) phrasal verb. This means that the object (someone or something) can go in the middle of the phrasal verb or at the end unless it is a pronoun (e.g. him, her, them) – then it must go in the middle.

For example, you can say:

I have to pick up the children.

I have to pick the children up.

I have to pick them up.

But you can’t say I have to pick up them.

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

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Scotland

Is you could from airport ?

About the sentence

…is there any chance you could…

Remember that in English, being indirect is a good way to sound polite. This phrase is one way of making a request more indirect, and therefore more polite. e.g. Is there any chance you could turn the volume down? I’m trying to get some sleep.

Dictation #2

Accent: Northern England

Available soon

Dictation #3

Accent: North America

Available soon

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Tell me about a time you forgot to pick someone or something up, or someone forgot to pick you up. If you can’t think of a time when this happened, make something up!
  • When you went to school, did you get picked up at the end of the day?

Photo by Rezal Scharfe on Unsplash

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