English everyday – Time’s up

You might have seen Hollywood actors recently getting involved with a campaign against sexual harassment called Time’s Up.

But why is time ‘up’? not down or over or another preposition? Here’s some more examples, what do they mean?

  • eat up
  • clean up
  • grow up
  • pack up
  • dry up
  • finish up

In these phrases ‘up’ suggests to complete or to finish something. So when you tell your children to ‘eat up your dinner’ you mean finish it all. When your holiday is finished you have pack up and leave the hotel, you have to pack all your things, not just some of the them.

So with ‘time is up’ we feel that the time is over or complete. In this case the campaign is against people who sexually harass others – they had time to do that, but now they will not be able to control others in the same way, not any longer.

We can use ‘time’s up’ at the end of an exam or test. The exam was 3 hours and the 3 hours have passed – so time is up. In any situation where there is a time limit, at the end of the time you can say Time is up.

There are a lot more examples of ‘up’ phrasal verbs  here, and up has lots of different meanings.

Now my time is up, let me know what you think below.






Published by Abbie

English teacher, coach and writer. Helping English learners and teachers get more confident in their skills.

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