separable phrasal verb: beat up

beat up face

Today, I have another phrasal verb for you: “beat up”. It has two meanings:

1. to hit someone many times and cause them physical injury. For example:

On the news tonight, they showed a video of some guys beating up another man. It was horrible.

I’m so angry right now! Some teenagers beat up my friend and stole his wallet last night!

I’m worried about my son. Some kids at school beat him up yesterday.

My son was beaten up by some kids at school yesterday. (passive voice)

2. for someone to blame themselves for something (used with reflexive pronouns). For example:

My new co-worker is very upset right now because he made a mistake, but it happened on his first day of work so he shouldn’t beat himself up about it.

Peter’s death wasn’t your fault! You have to stop beating yourself up about it!

The first meaning of this phrasal verb is used in very extreme circumstances. If someone is hit only once or twice, then we can’t use it. We only use it when a person is seriously hurt because of being hit MANY times. I hope nobody needs to use this expression when it comes to their own lives. However, it could be useful when talking about a movie or TV show. We often see people being beaten up in movies or on TV.

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