inseparable phrasal verb: live up to


The phrasal verb for this week is “live up to”. It’s an example of a three word phrasal verb. Another example of this that I’ve written about in the past is “come up with”. Almost all three word phrasal verbs are inseparable which means that the object, whether it’s a noun or a pronoun, will come after the third word (a preposition).

The phrasal verb “live up to” is used when we talk about a person who fulfills someone else’s expectations or follows their example. For example:

My father has such high standards for success. I could never live up to his expectations.

My father’s expectations for success can never be lived up to. (passive voice)

My mother is an amazing woman. I’ve tried hard all my life to live up to her example.

I really admire my teacher. I hope I’ve been able to live up to her expectations.

So, when we use this expression, the person whose expectations are trying to be lived up to must be someone in a high position in comparison with the speaker. Often it’s someone’s mother or father, but it’s possible to be another person as well. When using this expression, we usually DON’T say something like , “I lived up to my father’s expectations.” Instead, it’s more natural to use it in the negative. For example:

I didn’t live up to my father’s expectations.

We can also use it with the word “try”. For example:

I tried to live up to my father’s expectations, but I couldn’t.

I’m trying to live up to my mother’s example.

So, that’s the phrasal verb for this week. I hope everyone has a great weekend!


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