Pick Up Something or Pick Something Up?

Are you trying to write that you’ve picked something up recently? Perhaps you’re struggling with the word order between “pick up something” and “pick something up.”

Don’t worry; this article will help you! We’ll cover all the things you need to know about ordering the phrase “pick something up.”

Pick Up Something or Pick Something Up?

“Pick up something” is correct, as “something” is an indefinite pronoun. With a regular pronoun, you write “pick it up” (“it” is between the verb “pick” and the article “up”). With a full noun, you can use either option (i.e., “pick up the key” or “pick the key up”).

Let’s look a bit closer at the different forms. For example:

  • Pronoun: Pick him up.
  • Indefinite pronoun: Pick up something.
  • Full noun: Pick the card up / Pick up the card.

As you can see, there are a few variations here. You need to know their differences if you want to use them correctly.

So, keep reading to find out exactly how to use each variation.

Pick Up Something

To start, we will treat “something” as a placeholder rather than an indefinite pronoun. That way, we have more freedom with our explanation.

You can place a word after “pick up” when using an indefinite pronoun or a full noun. For instance:

  • Pick up something later on, please. I don’t care what, but I’d like to have some food!
  • Please, pick up the slack that he’s dropping! I can’t stand this anymore.

An indefinite pronoun like “something” and a full noun both come after “pick up.” Common English style guides suggest placing them after the verb and the article, which is why they are grammatically correct in this fashion.

Pick Something Up

Let’s treat “something” like a placeholder again to help with this explanation.

You can place a word between the verb and the article when it is a pronoun or a full noun. That way, it helps to break up the flow of the phrasal verb “to pick up.”

For instance:

  • You should pick it up before they get back. I don’t want you to get into any trouble.
  • Please, pick the keys up on your way out. Don’t forget them like you did last time!

In the example above, “it” comes between “pick” and “up” because it’s a pronoun. The same rules apply to other pronouns (i.e. “pick him up” or “pick them up”).

With a full noun, it’s your choice as the writer. You can place the full noun after or between “pick up,” depending on which form you think flows better in your sentence.

Conclusion

“Pick up something” is correct for an indefinite pronoun or a full noun. You should place them after the phrasal verb “pick up.”

You should use “pick something up” with a regular pronoun or a full noun. These words can come between “pick up” to split the phrasal verb.