Phrasal Verb Dress Up – Learn how to use it!

June 1, 2017 - Priscila Pereira

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Hey guys, what’s up?

New phrasal verb for you today! Here on my blog, you will find many posts about phrasal verbs. The idea is to help you learn the most common phrasal verbs and how to use them effectively!

Not only will I teach you the meaning of the phrasal verb but I will also show you real life examples. For every written example I give you, you can check the pronunciation as well. That way you learn intonation and improve your pronunciation! If you still have questions, you can always leave them in the comments. I will make sure to reply to you. You can also try to come up with (create) your own examples! When you write your examples, try to make them “real”.

Teacher Prix, what do you mean “real”?

This example needs to make sense to you. It needs to sound familiar! It needs to remind you (to help you remember) of something. When you make a “real” example, it is easier for your brain to remember that phrasal verb, because it remembers the story behind the sentence you wrote. That way, you can remember the phrasal verb much more easily.

But let’s talk about today’s phrasal verb: DRESS UP

It is funny because the first thing students think about is that the word “dress” is this:

So many get confused when they learn that “dress” can be a verb! See, that’s your brain in action, it quickly remembered your past experiences with this word!

You can even use “dress” without the particle “up”. But today we will focus on “dress up”

The second problem students have is to confuse the verb “dress” with “wear”. We use “dress” for specific situations (which I will show you).  When you are describing the “everyday” routine of “putting clothes on”, you can use the verb “wear”. But I will leave this explanation for another post.

Let’s look at the most common meanings of “dress up”:

1. To wear formal clothes, more formal than you usually wear.

In this case, you already wear formal clothes, but because it is a special day, a special meeting, a special occasion, you dress up!

Example 01:  Hey Peter, tonight’s dinner is very important. Please dress up. My grandparents are coming and you know how they are.

in this case, someone is telling Peter about an important dinner, a special dinner. In this case, Peter will need to wear better, formal clothes. When you use “dress up”, the clothes are more formal, ok?

Example 02: We have a pretty casual dress code here in the company, except on our annual meeting. On this day we gather company representative from all over the world. In This case, we ask our employees to dress up.


Look, here there one person is explaining the “dress code” in a company, which is flexible! But on one specific occasion (the annual meeting), the employees need to wear formal clothes (dress up)

2. To wear elegant clothes, to dress elegantly. Wearing “formal clothes” doesn’t always mean you are elegant. So, when you use “dress up”, you can also give the idea of wearing “elegant clothes” for a specific occasion. Let’s see some examples:

Example 01:  The students need to dress up for Prom

(prom a formal dance  at High school usually at the end of the school year)

In this case, the students need to wear elegant clothes for the school party. The girls usually wear beautiful dresses while boys charming suits.

Example 02:  Hey Susie, it is a casual party, ok? You don’t need to dress up!

In this situation someone is telling Susie she doesn’t need to wear anything special or too elegant. The party is simple (casual). You can use this phrasal verb in both affirmative and negative situations. In this case, as you can see, Susie doesn’t have to dress up.

Example 03:  I love dressing up for parties. I love to look pretty and elegant!

In this case, someone is saying how nice it is to look elegant! This person likes to wear elegant clothes.


3. Wearing a costume. Yes, guys, another common use for this phrasal verb is to describe this idea of “wearing a costume”. Let’s see some examples:

Example 01:  The kids love to dress up as princesses and play all day.

In this example, someone is saying that the kids like to put on “princess” clothes and play.

Example 02:  It is Halloween! Everybody dresses up in fun and scary outfits!

In this case, someone is talking about “Halloween”. If you know this popular American holiday, people wear “special and scary” clothes.  So here the idea is not “elegant” or “formal”, but “funny” “different”, “scary” clothes

Example 03:  Many people dress up during the Comic Con. It is so fun! There are so many different outfits


In this case, I’m talking about a very important event for the Comic Book lovers! During this event the people who participate are free to wear whatever they want, but many people like to wear costumes of their

SO, do you like to dress up? let me know in the comments if you like it or not. Share this post with your friends!


Teacher Prix


Priscila Pereira

Starbucks and TV Series lover: juggling with teaching, blogging, and a YouTube life! I’m teacher Prix and I want to help you talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime in English! This blog is for English speakers who are looking for an effective blog. Get inspired by hundreds of different posts for all English levels, so that you can finally learn English easily and effectively on the internet.

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