Drive Up | What does this phrasal verb mean?

The verb to drive has two essential meanings: first, that of “driving” a car. This is where, for example, the word driver , “driver”, comes from. Second, drive means “to propel” or “to propel” any object. From this came the word screwdriver , or “screwdriver” – this because the key is “pushing” ( driving ) the “screw” ( screw ).

With this in mind, it is very easy to understand the different meanings of the verb drive up .

First of all, drive up simply means “going by car”. The difference here is that the preposition up usually indicates that you are “climbing” somewhere, for example if you are talking about driving along a road that goes up a mountain. But note that drive up can also be used to “up” on the map – if you’re heading north, it’s common to say I’m driving up to X…

Still in the sense of “driving”, drive up can mean “arriving by car (and stopping)”. He drove up to the gate means he arrived by car, and stopped in front of the gate.

Second, drive up means “to raise” or “to raise” something. For example, if I want to say that the crisis in the Middle East “raised” gas prices, I can phrase it like this: The Middle East crisis has driven gas prices up . Note that in this second sense, drive up is a separable verb (the object can come between the drive and up parts ).

Below are some examples of how to use drive up , which as always you can add to your review lists on Anki .

1 – Drive up , “go driving (to some place in the north)”. Note that in the translation we tend to omit the detail that the place is in the north. Also note that drive up can be used as an object in the sense of “giving someone a ride somewhere (usually in the north)”.

I do live in Florida now, but I’m actually driving up to New York this weekend to visit my family.
I actually live in Florida now, but I’m actually driving to New York this weekend to visit my family.

My sister recently moved to New York so I’m driving her car up there this weekend.
My sister recently moved to New York so I’m taking her car there this weekend.

Ralph drove Sally up to the cabin.
Ralph took Sally to the cabin.

He was going to drive her up last week, but could not.
He was going to take her there last week, but he can’t.

We drove up the mountain.
We drove up the mountain.

The fire engines were driving up the street.
Fire engines were driving up the street.

We were driving our new sports car up the street.
We were driving our new sports car up the street .

2 – “Arriving by driving to”, or “driving to”, any place.

She drove up to the door and stopped.
She drove to the door and stopped.

Sally drove up and honked.
Sally arrived in her car and honked the horn.

I’m sorry I didn’t meet you outside — I didn’t hear you drive up .
Sorry I didn’t meet you outside – I didn’t hear you arrive .

I was standing in front of the house when they drove up .
I was in front of the house when they arrived by car .

3 – “Lead to an increase of”, “raise”.

The scarce supply of oil is driving up prices .
The low oil supply is causing prices to rise .

The government’s policies are driving up interest rates.
Government measures are raising interest rates.

A shortage is all it would take to tighten supplies and drive up prices .
A shortage would be enough to squeeze supply and raise prices .
(Notice the expression all it would take, or “all it would take”, “all it would take for”. We translate it as “would be enough” because it sounds more fluent that way.)

The interest in the new toy drove up sales .
Interest in the new toy increased sales .

by Abdullah Sam
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