separable phrasal verb: set up


This week’s phrasal verb is “set up”, and it has five different meanings.

1. to assemble or prepare something for use. For example:

Can you help me set up the computer? I don’t know how to do it.

My computer needs to be set up. Can you help me? (passive voice)

We have to set up everything for the party by 5:00.

Everything has to be set up for the party by 5:00. (passive voice)

2. to frame someone for a crime. For example:

I swear I didn’t kill those people! Someone else did it and then set me up!

In the movie, the main character was set up for some murders. (passive voice)

3. to establish something (often a business). For example:

I want to set up my own business, but I know it’s going to be difficult.

The billionaire set up a charity in order to help handicapped people.

The charity was set up by a billionaire in order to help handicapped people. (passive voice)

4. to establish someone in business. For example:

My uncle set me up in the restaurant business. I couldn’t have done it without his financial support.

I was set up in the restaurant business by my uncle. (passive voice)

5. to arrange a blind date for someone. For example:

Can you set me up with your cousin? I think she’s really pretty.

My friend wants me to set him up with my cousin.

The second meaning for this phrasal verb (to frame someone for a crime) is the type of language that we only hear in a movie or TV show. We can also use it when talking about a movie or TV show, but obviously most of use wouldn’t use it in our everyday lives. Also, please be careful to use the preposition “with” when using the final meaning (to arrange a blind date for someone). If you don’t know, a “blind date” is a date with someone that you’ve never met before, and which is usually arranged by another person.

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