Phrasal Verbs You Just Can’t Make Up!

hugIt’s often incredible how many meanings you can get from the same two words when you use them in different contexts. Take “make,” the subject of today’s installment, as an example!

Make up/ – to reconcile differences with someone (e.g., after an argument)

  • After my first big argument with my boyfriend, it took a few days before we were both calm enough to talk about it and make up.

Note: “Make up” with this meaning can be used both with and without an object. In cases where we use an object, it comes after the preposition “with.”

  •  Why haven’t you made up with Mary yet? She’s your best friend!

Make up for/ – To compensate

  • I know from experience that it’s extremely hard to make up for a forgotten anniversary. Flowers, chocolate, and a massage are all good ideas, but they may not be enough!

Note: This phrasal verb can mean to compensate for mistakes, as in the above example, or for something that is missing or lacking, as in the example below:

  • No amount of youthful enthusiasm can make up for a lack of experience and savvy on the pitch.

Make … up/ – to invent a story/lie about something

  • I couldn’t tell my boss that I was late to the meeting because I overslept, so I made up a story about needing my neighbor’s help to get my car out of the snow.
  • He tells lots of interesting stories, but after a while you realize that he’s making them up so that people will think he’s cool.

Note: In its separated form, with the addition of the preposition “to,” this phrasal verb takes on a different meaning:

Make … up to/ – to compensate someone for a mistake

  • I’m really sorry I couldn’t go to your concert. I’ll make it up to you by going to the next two, and I’ll bring as many friends as I can!

Still not sure about all of this? Check out our phrasal verbs overview for more information and other practice exercises!


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