put up with: meaning and explanation

to put up with somebody/something= to tolerate somebody or something.

We might use this phrasal verb to say that someone or something is doing something annoying or frustrating, but we are willing to accept the situation. e.g. Jason is very difficult to work with, but we put up with him because he comes up with such original ideas.

If we use the phrasal verb negatively (e.g. I won’t/can’t put up with this situation anymore), it means that we are not willing to tolerate a situation, or unable to. e.g. I’ve really tried, but I don’t think I can put up with his rudeness much longer.

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

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Ireland

Kelly .
Kelly house couldn't her neighbours .

About the sentence

…Kelly decided to move house…

Notice the (very) important verb pattern here: to decide to do something. e.g. I’ve decided to pull out of the trip to London as I can’t really afford it.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Northern England

. .

how you . I would years ago.

About the sentence

…I would have left him…

“I would have left him years ago” is part of a conditional sentence. When it is clear or obvious from the context, it is possible to leave out the ‘if’ part of the sentence. In this example, the full sentence might be: “If I were you, I would have left him years ago”.

Notice the pronunciation of have in this example. In past modal structures (e.g. might have, could have, would have, should have) the have is often very quick and weak: /əv/ or even /ə/.  

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (London)

Maria's , .

Maria's relaxed boss, won't lateness.

About the sentence

…quite a relaxed boss

Notice the way that the /t/ of quite is linked or connected to the next word (a) so that it sounds like one word: /kwaɪtə/.