English everyday – do up

  • We want to do up the kitchen next year, it’s quite old, and the cupboards are all broken.
  • They’ve just had their house done up, it’s all glass and blank white walls now.
  • The shop’s been done up and it’s got a cafe now.

The phrasal verb ‘do up’ has a few different meanings but let’s focus on one that we use a lot in British English. We use it especially in relation to houses, kitchens, bathrooms and shops and restaurants too.

Can you guess what it means? Read the example sentences again…

^^^^^ think, think, think ^^^^^^

Did you guess? Here ‘do up’ means to repair, paint, refurbish or redecorate. We often use this as a passive sentence,  because we’re more interested in the action and not the person doing it (or we don’t know who did it).

  • That house was done up last year, but it still hasn’t been sold. (two passive verbs!)
  • We did up the kitchen ourselves, but we didn’t do a great job of it!
  • His hobby is doing up old cars, he’s working on a Jaguar now.

Have you ever done a house or a room up, is there a shop or restaurant that has been done up near you recently? Let me know below!

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Published by Abbie

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

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