Have you ever been confused by a sentence even though you know every word in it?

Imagine this situation: You're going to a party. Your friend asks you to bring some wine, and she tells you not to bring up politics. You're okay with the first part, but what does it mean to bring uppolitics? Clearly, it's not the same thing as bringingwine.

People drinking wine at a party. Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

The problem is that bring up is a phrasal verb.This means that it is a verb plus a short word (like "up") that changes the meaning of the original verb.

Learn more about bring up and other phrasal verbs to improve your conversation skills!

Bring Up and Bring Down

Phrasal verbs might not mean anything similar to the words that are in them. For example, you might think that bring up and bring down mean the opposite thing, but they don't mean the opposite thing. They actually don't have similar meaning at all!

Instead of thinking about the words, think about the context. Can you learn what these phrasal verbs mean from the example sentences below?

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  • Joe always brings up the fact that his daughter is a doctor, even though nobody cares!

  • I completely forgot about being invited to this party until you brought it up yesterday.

  • I think Emilia would love this kind of cake. I'll bring it up next time I see her.

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  • Fred is really bringing down the mood of the party by looking so sad.

  • I just want to relax. Getting all these work emails is bringing me down.

  • I don't want to tell her this bad news and bring her down.

If you said that bring up means "talk about" and bring down means "make sad", you're completely right!

Usually, you wouldn't bring up a topic that brings people down at a party. Don't bring up that time in 2010 when you sold all your Bitcoin for $100. It will bring people down!

A pile of Bitcoins. Photo by Kanchanara on Unsplash


If you bring up this topic, it might bring people down:

Bring On

The same phrasal verb might mean something completely different. See if you can guess the meaning of bring on used in two different ways.

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  • We need to bring on a new civil engineer to help expand the roads.

  • I heard your business is starting to bring on a lot of new people. Can I give you my resume?

  • My mom is retired but she just got brought on to a new company as a consultant.

Bring oncan mean "hire someone for a job".

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  • Staying out in the rain can bring on a cold.

  • Too much wine can bring on stomach problems.

  • You might not get help with your problems if you bring them on yourself.

Bring oncan also mean "cause something bad to happen".

If you're at a party AND looking for work, you might try talking to someone who can bring you on to their company. Just try not to bring on any awkwardness by asking too much!

A party filled with networking professionals. Photo by Antenna on Unsplash


Which of these sentences make sense? Select all that apply:

Other Phrasal Verbs

There are tons of phrasal verbs out there, so it's useful to look at lists like this one to understand them all.

Look at this conversation from a party. It has all the phrasal verbs we studied, plus one more from that list. Can you guess what it means?

  • Joe: So, as I was saying, I've been looking for work for months now, and it's starting to bring me down.

  • Jane: Oh, well actually, my boss brought up the other day that we're looking to bring on more people.

  • Joe: Oh, do you think you could bring me up the next time you talk to him?

  • Jane: Well, normally we only hire people with university degrees.

  • Joe: You could tell him that even though I don't have a degree, I have a lot of experience. That might bring him around.

  • Jane: That's a good point. I'll see if I can bring him around.

A university degree, which Joe doesn't have Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash


What does "bring around" mean?

Take Action

Try to start using these phrasal verbs in context!

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