Archive for January 7, 2011

separable phrasal verb: set up

The phrasal verb for this week is “set up”, and it has a few meanings. Let me go over the various ways to use it.

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 all this equipment before the meeting starts.

All this equipment has to be set up before the meeting starts. (passive voice)

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

I just saw a movie in which a man killed his wife and then set up his best friend for the murder.

I didn’t kill Jack’s wife! Jack killed her and then set me up!

I’m being set up for the murder of Jack’s wife! (passive voice)

3. to establish a business. For example:

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

I tried to set up my own business, but the bank wouldn’t give me a loan.

4. to establish someone else 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)

I wish I knew someone who could set me up in business, but I have to do it myself.

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

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

A: Are you seeing anyone right now? I have a friend, and I think you’d really like him.

B: Are you trying to set me up? I hate blind dates!

The second meaning of “set up” is usually only for movies and TV shows. That’s the kind of language we hear all the time when watching suspense shows or movies. If you’re not sure, to “frame” someone for a crime means to make it seem like another person committed a crime that you did yourself.

Also, please note that with the last meaning of “set up”, in the case of the blind date, we have to use “with” between “set up” and the person who will go on the blind date.

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