We’ve got a two-letter word we use constantly that may have more meaning than any other. The word is up.
It is easy to understand up meaning toward the sky or toward the top of a list. But when we waken, why do we wake up? At a meeting, why does a topic come up, why do participants speak up, and why are the officers up for election? And is it up to the secretary to write up a report?
Often the little word isn’t needed, but we use it anyway. We brighten up a room, fix up the old car and polish up the silver. At other times, it has special meanings. People stir up trouble, work up an appetite, get tied up in traffic. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special. It may be confusing, but a drain must be opened up because it is stopped up. We open up a store in the morning and close it up at night. We seem to me mixed up about up.
To be up on the proper use of up look up the word in your dictionary. In one desk-size dictionary up takes up half a page, and listed definitions add up to about 40. If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways in which up is used. It will take up a lot of your time but, if you don’t give up, you may wind up with a thousand.