14 Phrasal Verbs with “Up” and “Down”

It’s pretty unusual to be happy all the time. Most of us switch between positive and negative emotions—which is understandable, considering the crazy world we live in. 

To recognize these emotional ups and downs (the shift between good and bad feelings) that we all experience, we’re going to focus on some phrasal verbs that feature the prepositions “up” and “down.”

“Up” and “down” phrasal verbs

1. Calm down

→ To stop yourself or someone else from feeling upset, angry, or excited

I need to teach my dog to calm down when we have visitors—she jumps all over them!

2. Close down

→ To stop business operations (often permanently)

The pandemic has been hard on many local businesses. A lot of them have had to close down.

3. Cut down

→ To reduce in amount or frequency 

I’ve been so stressed lately, I haven’t been eating very well. I’m going to start cutting down on junk food. 

4. Die down

→ To reduce in strength, activity, or noise

The weather looks bad right now, but I think the rain will die down this afternoon.

5. End up

→ To arrive in a particular situation or place, often unexpectedly

He went travelling around South America and ended up living in Peru for a year.

6. Get up

→ To leave your bed after sleeping

You’re still in bed? Get up now! You’re going to be late for school! 

→ To stand 

Can you get up, please? I think you’re sitting on my glasses.

7. Give up

→ To quit; to stop making an effort

If you want to be successful in life, you can’t be someone who gives up easily.

8. Keep up

→ To continue doing something

You’re doing a great job on this project—keep up the good work!

→ To maintain the same speed as someone else

I would like to go for a run with you but you’re so fast; I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up.

9. Look up

→ To search for information

Whenever I’m reading and don’t understand a word, I look up the definition.

10. Set up

→ To organize or arrange something 

I’d love to talk more about your business idea. Why don’t we set up a meeting? 

11. Show up

→ To arrive somewhere, often unexpectedly or late

Can you believe he showed up at the party? He wasn’t even invited!

12. Slow down

→ To reduce your speed or become less active

You should always slow down when driving near playgrounds and schools.

13. Take up

→ To begin a new activity

I’ve been wanting to learn something new lately. I think I’m going to take up martial arts. 

14. Turn down

→ To reject 

She asked him out to dinner but he turned her down. 

→ To reduce the volume

I’m trying to work on my report—can you please turn down the TV?

Keep up your English practice with phrasal verbs

Learning phrasal verbs is a useful way to improve your English vocabulary. If you’re new to phrasal verbs, start with the ones we’ve discussed above. And when you’re ready, there are many more to learn! Keep it up and don’t give up!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.