separable phrasal verb: make up


The phrasal verb for this week is “make up”, and it has several different meanings. Let me go over them for you:

1. to invent a story or an excuse. For example:

We had to write an essay about our families. I didn’t want to write about my real family, so I just made it up.

A: I don’t want to go to Rick’s party, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

B: Then just make up an excuse.

2. to put on cosmetics. For example:

Jane made herself up for the party, but she usually doesn’t wear make up.

3. to compensate for a difference (usually with money). For example:

The CD costs $20.00. If you give me $5.00, I’ll make up the difference.

4. to clean and organize a hotel room. For example:

I’m going out now. Can you please have the maid make up my room?

The room will be made up by the maid. (passive voice)

5. to repeat an exam because of being absent for the first one. For example:

I missed the final exam because I slept late, but my professor said I could make it up on Tuesday.

The exam can be made up on Tuesday for people who missed it. (passive voice)

6. to constitute something – (inseparable). For example:

Asian people make up about 50% of the population of Vancouver.

About 50% of Vancouver’s population is made up of Asian people. (passive voice)

7. to reconcile after an argument (for friendships, family members and romantic relationships) – (inseparable). For example:

My girlfriend and I had a big fight on Saturday night, but we’ve made up with each other since then.

Why are you so angry with your brother? I wish you two would just make up. I’m tired of listening to you argue all the time.

As I mentioned above, the last two meanings for “make up” are inseparable. As a reminder, this means that the object of the sentence, whether it’s a noun or a pronoun, must come after the word “up” in the phrasal verb. In the case of the last meaning, to reconcile with someone, please note that we have to use the preposition “with” if we use an object in the sentence. If we don’t use “with”, as in the last sentence, it becomes intransitive, which means that the sentence has no object at all.


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