Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Where do you like to meet up with your friends?

Would you like to meet for lunch or dinner?

Is there a difference between the phrase “meet up” and the word “meet”?

Can you really tell any difference between the two?

You may use one in a more formal business context.

One is more casual than the other.

Does it sound a bit difficult?

Today we’ll clear up your confusion and help you use these two phrasal verbs in English conversations.


Casual versus formal:

If you were talking to your boss, you would be likely to say “let’s MEET for our annual review on Tuesday”.

If you were making plans with your friend, you would be likely to say “let’s meet up for drinks on Friday”.

One is much more formal with meet, and appropriate in a business setting. The other is much more casual in meet up, such as in making simple and more casual plans.

So let’s break this down a bit further and see what happens when we add that pesky little preposition to some verbs to make it a phrasal verb.

Though the answer isn’t simple but we’ll to break it down a little for further clarification. 

Let’s look at a letter we got which may help to further explain things. Chances are that you have had the same questions that others have, and this letter is a perfect example.



I’m spotting all of the time prepositions or adverbs that are somehow useless. In other words the meaning of expressions seems to be the same with or without the part.

For example:

  • later – later on
  • meet – meet up
  • stress – stress out

“It started off just as a hobby” (quotation from the secret of connected communicator).  I  totally comprehend phrasal verbs when the combination of words makes new meanings, which cannot be seen from their individual parts. But all this might be only in my non-native eyes.  I know that in many cases I just don’t understand that subtle and underlying meaning of that extra part of the word. Dropping the small words to the speech sounds really natural to me but I’m not very good at doing it in practice. I’m also wondering if the American English includes more of these combinations than the British way of expressing things.

I somehow started to get pay attention this matter after I decided to focus on American english in my language studies.  I started off listening your podcast six months ago:) (I don’t even know if it is OK to say start off in this context?). It was somehow a turning point in my language life. For my surprise now I feel much more comfortable with American way of speaking, even though I used to be afraid of confronting Americans before:).   After years of chasing even a small bit of the British intonation and pronunciation without success the American 

English seems to be an easier goal for me personally. I got some kind of insight of the natural language when I found your podcast and the Rachel’s English.  I really love your super wonderful podcast.

-Taina from Finland


Excellent question and examples to really help with understanding this point. 

How does it adding a preposition and going from “later” to “later on” change the meaning or does it change the meaning at all?

The answer is- it depends on the verb/phrasal verb.

Sometimes it a matter of casual versus formal as you saw in the example above.

“Meet” is a more formal word that you may use in a professional setting.

“Meet up” is a more casual phrase that you may use in making plans with a friend.


We’re not just talking about phrasal verbs though.

This applies to phrases like “later” vs. “later on.”

Take a look at the following example to really help you to understand how this works.

A: Hey when are you going to the beach?

B: I have homework to do so I am going to the beach later.

B: I have homework to do so I am going to the beach later on.


Yes again “later” and “later on” mean virtually the same thing. Yet one is more casual than the other one.

Sometimes adding a preposition makes it a bit more casual and conversational.

It’s a bit more relaxed in the way that you say it in conversation. 


What about stress versus stress out?

Let’s take a look at these two and how they work. 

A: Hey you look anxious what’s up?

B: Oh my gosh I am stressing/ stressing out about this episode. We have publish it today and there’s no time to record.


Could you use both?

You can and sometimes it’s just a matter of what sounds smoother in a sentence.

They can be used interchangeably but they each have their own small distinction.


Let’s look at these two phrases:

  • Don’t stress.
  • Don’t stress out.

Both are okay and it may be a matter of preference really. 

But sometimes it totally changes the meaning- carry/carry on, run/run away.

Just one small word addition can alter the phrase completely. 



Don’t think of it as a totally new vocabulary term that you have to learn.

Instead learn the first word on its own and then make sure you understand its meaning.

Notice if natives ever add a preposition after it.

That’s a really good thing to pay attention.

If they did add something to it did it change the meaning altogether?

Did it take the same meaning and just make it more casual.

Remember meet vs. meet up and how one is more formal and professional, while the other is more casual and meant for friends.

Try to use each one yourself and be confident in its usage.

This is just another way that you are adding to your English skills and enjoying using new words and phrases each day.

Make it fun, enjoy speaking in this way, and make connections don’t aim for perfection!


What questions do you have?

Let us know in the comments below.

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