Grow / Grow up (Phrasal Verb Series) - Podcast Episode 18

Audio Transcript

NOTE: Phrasal verbs, sometimes called ‘multi-word verbs', are verbs that need more than one WORD to complete its meaning.

Welcome to episode 18 of The English Sessions. Grow / Grow up (Phrasal Verb Series). I am your host and English teacher, Mike Butler. These podcasts can help you improve your English! Together, we will talk about grammar… pronunciation… structure... and have some fun too. Remember to visit my website, to contact me for private lessons, and for more content.

You can also read the transcript of this audio on the website, as you listen to this episode.

Listen for these words today:

- Harsh: “Harsh” today means ‘severe’ or ‘rude’. Example: John was very harsh today to his girlfriend. What a jerk!”

- Feisty: “Feisty” in today’s context means ‘very lively’ or ‘full of energy’. Our puppy, Greta, is always feisty.

- Stick: “a stick” is a thin, long piece of wood that has fallen from a tree! My dogs love to chase sticks.

It’s time to talk about phrasal verbs. Let’s break it down (BREAK DOWN DEFINITION: ). Verbs are words like ‘go’, ‘have’, ‘do’, ‘be’. They are the most important part of a sentence. If you don’t have a verb, you don’t have a sentence. Instead, you’d just have some words.

Phrasal verbs, sometimes called ‘multi-word verbs’, are verbs that need more than one WORD to complete its meaning. You often see a phrasal verb as “VERB + PREPOSITION” OR “VERB + ADVERB”. Phrasal verbs are important, because a phrasal verb almost always has a different meaning than the verb by itself. Example: “BRING” and “BRING UP”. The main definition of ‘to bring’ from the Oxford dictionary is, “to come to a place, with something!”. Mary will bring wine to the party tonight. “BRING UP” has the same verb, but that little extra word completely changes the meaning! To ‘bring up’ means to ‘raise a child’. In other words, to care for a child until the child becomes an adult. “The girl was brought up by her grandparents”.

Today, we will talk about the phrasal verb, “grow up”. We will also talk about “grow”. One is a verb, the other is a phrasal verb. So, that means they have different meanings.

Let’s first talk about “grow”. If something grows, that means it increased in size. EXAMPLE: The tree grew to a very large size. My puppy, Greta, is growing very quickly. She’s already so big! The verb ‘grow’ can also be the action that someone does to help something grow. For example, I am growing many plants in my garden. I grow plants. The plants grow. I grow plants. I give them water. Then, the plants grow more and more and more. There are other definitions for ‘grow’, but this is the main way to use it. I’m keeping things simple today.

Now, ‘grow up’. Remember when I said that phrasal verbs will have a different meaning compared to the main verb by itself? That is typically true. Sometimes, the phrasal verb will have a similar meaning, but the phrasal verb meaning often is more specific. So, “grow up” means ‘to go from childhood to adulthood’. In other words, to become an adult. We often use this to talk about WHERE this happened. For example, I live in Bisbee, Arizona USA but I grew up in Rochester, NY. I spent all of my years as a child, and became an adult, in Rochester, NY. I grew up in Rochester.

So, yes, it has a similar meaning to ‘grow’, I did become bigger as I went from being a child to being an adult, so I did grow during that time of my life, but it’s more specific, more subtle. In another way to say it, I went from being immature to being mature. Although, I think some may argue that fact!

“Grow up” is often more about maturity; about mental development/advancement. In fact, that’s why it is common to tell someone: HEY! Grow up!! When they are doing something that seems immature.

That’s the basic lesson today. You can turn off the podcast now if you want. However, for more advanced learners who want to learn something more complicated about phrasal verbs, come back after the break.


Okay, Mike, so every time I see a verb with a preposition after it, I have a phrasal verb, right? Wrong! I’m sorry to be so harsh there for a second. I’m a bit feisty today. The truth is, some verbs just need a preposition because you cannot put a noun directly after the verb. There’s a good chance that this is true for your native language as well. The example I always use with my students is with the verb ‘listen’. ‘To listen’ means ‘to hear something and pay attention to that sound that you hear’. We listen TO something because the verb “listen” never has a direct object. That’s right. This means it is an intransitive verb. We will talk about intransitive and transitive verbs some other time. I won’t bore you with that today. So, it is correct to say, “I listen to Mozart”. BUT, some students want to say “I listen Mozart” because in their language, that verb DOES take a direct object, like in Spanish, Yo escucho Mozart. “Listen to” is not a phrasal verb because LISTEN TO is just what you say when you want to use this verb by its most common definition, or meaning. (OXFORD’S MAIN DEFINITION: give one's attention to a sound: evidently he was not listening (no object) | sit and listen to the radio.)

Okay, are you still with me? Let’s go back to ‘grow’ and ‘grow up’. What happens when you want to use the verb grow, and also want to indicate the direction of its movement as it grows?! You say, “GROW UP”. I remember once, telling a student, who had a farm, that he should say he’s “growing vegetables”, not “growing up vegetables”. And then, I swear it was the next day, my friend and I were talking about how we wanted a plant in my garden to grow ‘up’. We wanted the plant to continue to grow in an upward direction, because it was growing horizontally not vertically. We supported the plant with a stick, and then the plant grew up. Sometimes language can be so complicated, so layered. What I’m trying to say is, ‘grow up’ is sometimes a phrasal verb, and then sometimes it can just mean that you want something to grow, in an upward direction. I learned a valuable lesson that week as a teacher, because perhaps my student was trying to get plants to grow in a more upward direction. You can do this with so many verbs. Do you remember my example of ‘bring’ and ‘bring up’? “The girl was brought up by her grandparents”. “Mary will bring the wine to the party.”

Well, what if Mary is going to a party on the second floor of a building? Let’s say, Mary arrives at the building. John, who is the host of the party, sees Mary on the street and yells down to her, “Hi Mary! I’m glad you were able to attend my party. What do you have in the bag?”.

Mary could say, “It’s a fantastic bottle of wine!”.

John could say, “Oh, excellent! Bring it up! I can’t wait!”.

This certainly does not mean that Mary is going to raise a baby bottle of wine until it becomes an an adult bottle of wine. She’s just going to bring the bottle to the party, in an upward direction. So, ‘bring up the wine’ is not really a use of the phrasal verb, ‘bring up’, is it? The meaning is still the same as before.

Well, I don’t know why I had so much fun making this episode. I hope you had fun listening to it! Write in to the podcast with your favorite phrasal verbs.

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Any questions? Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review The English Sessions on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Find us on social media. Twitter @theEsessions; Instagram @englishsessionswithmike; Search for The English Sessions on Facebook. Until next time, this is Mike signing off.


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