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"Pick It Out" or "Pick It Up"?

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, May 22, 2013 @ 10:31 AM

pick outTwo common phrasal verbs that a lot of students get confused about are "pick out" and "pick up."

In today's post, we will learn the difference between the two verbs and how and when to use them.

Here is a sample sentence:


The shoppers are picking out the best kind of meat for dinner.


#1) Pick out


  • picking out a pumpkinWhat does it mean? When you "pick something out", you select an item. This is usually used when you go shopping and you have to choose between a large set of options.

  • Grammar tip: You can separate this phrasal verb. That means that you can put the object between the two parts of the verb. For example, we can say "Please pick a cereal out" or you can put the object at the end and say "Please pick out a cereal." 

  • More examples: "Will you help me pick out the nicest ring?"



#2) Pick up


  • pick up the baseballMeaning: When we "pick something up" we physically lift the object or elevate it. When we "pick someone up" we go to the place where the person is and take them with us (see examples below)

  • Grammar tip: This phrasal verb is separable. That means that you can put the object between the two parts of the verb. We can say "I picked John up after school"

  • Examples: "Can you pick up some milk at the grocery store?" or "He picked up the flag and led the parade" or "Please pick your pen up and start writing."



Ready for a quiz?


talking about picking up and picking out, husband and wifeMary: Hey Jim would you mind ___1____ some meat at the grocery store on your way home from work?

Jim: Ok sure. What kind of meat do you want me to get?

Mary: You can ___2___ whatever you want for the barbecue on Saturday.

Jim: Oh right I forgot about that. Ok, I will get some hamburger meat then. Do you want me to __3__ Mark ___3___ from school also?

Mary: No, he's getting ___4___ by his friend's mom.

Jim: Ok, see you at home!


1- picking up, 2- pick out, 3- pick Mark up, 4- picked up



learn English phrasal verbs the fun way



Photo credit: epSos.de, edenpictures, joshme17, edwinmalet

Topics: Phrasal Verbs

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