to pick someone 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 this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Scotland

Is you could from airport ?
Is there chance you could me up from airport later ?

…is there any chance you could

Is there any chance you could…is a useful sentence starter for making requests.

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.

Discussion questions

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

  • 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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