Find phrasal verbs a mystery? Let Tim Bowen clear them up.

‘The morning will be wet over much of the country but it should clear up by late afternoon’. If bad weather clears up, rain stops and it becomes less cloudy. The phrasal verb brighten up can be used with the same meaning. 

It is also possible to clear up a mess (clean up and tidy up being synonyms), as in ‘Have you cleared that broken glass up yet?’ If you clear up after someone, you make a place tidy after someone else has made it untidy, as in ‘I’m sick to death of clearing up after you!’ 

To clear up can also be used to mean to find an explanation for a mystery or misunderstanding, or a solution to a problem, as in ‘They contacted the police the next morning and cleared up the misunderstanding’. Various other nouns collocate with clear up in this sense, including confusion, matter, problem and uncertainty. 

The noun form, a clear-up, is used to describe an occasion when you make a place tidy by removing things that you have finished using or no longer want, as in ‘It’s high time we had a clear-up in here’. 

If an illness or a medical condition clears up, or if something clears it up, you stop being affected by it, as in ‘Most colds eventually clear up after a few days’ or ‘He’s had dandruff for some time now and nothing seems to clear it up’. 

If you clear off, you leave a place suddenly, as in ‘They’ve all cleared off and left me to clear up all this mess’. If you tell someone to clear off, you tell them very strongly to go away, as in ‘Why don’t you clear off and leave me alone?’