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turn up: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb to turn up is used to say that someone or something arrived or appeared unexpectedly.

Imagine you’re getting married, and one of your relatives comes to the wedding without being invited. You would say that they turned up.

If we use this phrasal verb in the negative (e.g. my friend didn’t turn up) then it has the opposite meaning – we were expecting someone, and they didn’t come. Imagine you’re late for work because you were waiting for a bus which didn’t arrive when you expected it to. You would tell your boss that the bus didn’t turn up on time.

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: North America

, .
She to the , surprised when she .

About the sentence

…she hadn’t been invited…

The speaker uses the past perfect (“she hadn’t been invited”) here because she is referring to an action/even that happened before another action in the past (“she turned up”).

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Ireland

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Northern England

. .
I cinema for my friend didn't . suppose they must .

About the sentence

.…they must have forgotten…

The speaker uses the structure ‘she must have forgotten’ because she is speculating – she doesn’t know for certain that her friend forgot, but it is a strong possibility. If she said ‘she forgot’, then she knows for certain that this is true.


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