Back Up - English Phrasal Verb

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In this lesson, you will learn how to use the phrasal verb 'back up' in your conversations.


Amelie: Hello everybody. Let's learn how to use the phrasal verb 'back up' today.

Yana: Yes, Amelie. To 'back up' means to support, doesn't it?

Amelie: That's it, Yana. As in the sentence: 'If you ask the teacher for a free period, I will back you up'.

Yana: I get it. 'Back up' means to support an idea and also to support someone morally. It also means to give encouragement. For example: 'The jury asked for evidence to back up what the prosecution was saying'.

Amelie: Correct. Here's another example: 'Carter revived his enthusiasm to become a professional ball player, when his mother backed him up'.

Yana: 'Back up' also means to keep something as substitute or to save something for the future. At home we have the solar panels to back us up in case of power cuts!

Amelie: Yeah, that would be the same principle of a computer backup right? Saving my files after copying them in case my PC crashes.

Yana: Yes, to backup a computer is to copy and save the files. However, 'back up' also means a jam, a bottleneck or a stoppage.

Amelie: You mean something like a traffic jam? Please give an example.

Yana: Yes, like traffic jam! For example: 'The traffic was backed up due to the rain' or 'The rain backed the traffic up for about an hour'.

Amelie: 'Back up' also means to move back or to be back into a previous place.

Yana: Alright! That's why cops shout 'back up' all the time in the movies!

Amelie: Exactly! How about some more examples?

Yana: Yes, let's see some conversations now.

Backup from the Crowd.

Seth: Congratulations, Duke! I can't believe you scored at the last minute!

Duke: Thank you! I was so overwhelmed when the crowd backed me up!

Seth: Why not?! You are the homeboy favorite!

Duke: Yeah, but I'm still a back up player. I was on the ground only after Leon got a red card.

Seth: Don't worry. Just talk to the coach. I'll back you up on this for sure.

Duke: Thank you, Seth. I'll do it.

Backed up Traffic.

Duke: Man, what happened?! You look like a drowned cat!

Seth: The traffic is all backed up due to the rain, I just came out of the taxi and walked.

Duke: Why did you have to walk in the rain?

Seth: I didn't want to be stuck there all day. Today is the day I back up my PC and I didn't want to miss that.

Duke: Are you for real?! Just make sure you don't get water onto your PC, or there will be nothing to back up.

The Broken Fence.

Yana: The fence fell and broke my flower pots.

Seth: Oh! I backed it up with some sticks in the morning.

Yana: I told you to fix it, Seth. You are just too lazy!

Seth: I was thinking about it but I had to do some laundry.

Yana: C'mon, I don't think Jenna would back you up on that. She did the laundry today.

Seth: Okay! I will fix it now. Here I go, alright?

Yana: Thank you dear. Get me some new flower pots, too.

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