Learn English phrasal verbs | Keep up

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Learn how to use the English phrasal verb ‘keep up’.

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If you tell someone to keep up, it normally means they’re going too slowly and you want them to be faster, to go more quickly. So if you’re walking and someone is walking with you, behind you but they’re very slow, you could say to them: ‘Keep up!’
Maybe you’re trying to explain something, you’re talking, but you’re talking very quickly for the other person and they can’t understand, so you could say to them: ‘Keep up!’ ‘You need to keep up with me!’ If you find something very difficult to understand, you might say: ‘I can’t keep up!’ I find my class very difficult. The teacher talks too quickly, the students are too good. I can’t do all the homework. I can’t keep up! I’m finding it hard to keep up! I can’t keep up with the homework. I can’t keep up with the class.
Also, if you’re running a race, but the other runners are much faster than you, you could say: ‘I can’t keep up with the others’. They’re too fast, they’re too fast for me. I can’t keep up with them. But if someone is doing a good job and you want them to continue doing a good job, you can encourage them by saying: ‘Keep up the good work!’
Things in the modern world change very quickly, so you could say: ‘I find it difficult to keep up with fashion’ or ‘I find it difficult to keep up with technological changes.’ So things like technology and fashion are always changing all the time very quickly and you might find it hard to keep up. So you could say: ‘I can’t keep up with fashion’. I try to keep up with fashion or I try to keep up with technological changes, but it’s difficult.
Your neighbours could keep you up! If your neighbours play loud music every night and you can’t sleep, you could complain and say: ‘My neighbours keep me up all night’ because they play loud music or my neighbours are having parties. I can’t get to sleep. My neighbours are keeping me up!
Finally, we have an expression in English which is ‘to keep up with the Joneses’ or…which basically means if your neighbours buy something new like a new car, you might feel embarrassed if you have an old car, so you want to get a new car as well to keep up with them, so you don’t feel embarrassed and we call this: ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. We normally use this for buying material things that are not that important and it’s a bit silly to compete with your neighbours, but the expression is: ‘to keep up with the Joneses’.


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