Clean up = tidy up?

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namlan

Banned
Vietnam
- Hey buddy! Why haven't you tidied up your apartment yet?
- Can I say "........you cleaned up................?"?

Thanks a lot!

NamLan
 
  • Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree that there is the distinct difference in definition. However, in conversation English speakers use cleaning and tidying interchangeably. Infact, the terms are used interchangeably in writing. In the family where I grew up, to tidy up your bedroom meant to do the minimum to make it neat. Cleaning was the full treatment; sweeping or vacumning, dusting, making window panes clear and waxing any furniture.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    No, "clear up" would be wrong in this context.

    There is also a difference in degree between clean up and tidy up. One might tidy up after a tea party for four elderly ladies. However, after a drunken bacchanal involving three college fraternities, two rugby teams, and an outlaw biker gang, the subsequent necessary action would probably go far beyond mere "tidying up."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    When I was a kid and we had toys all over the place my mom would say, "Let's tidy up; put away your toys." We were never told to "clean up" which would involve buckets, water and soap.
     
    You can use just "clear" (without "up") to mean remove objects from the surface of, as in "We cleared the table" = We took the dishes/silverware/floral decorations, etc. away from and off the surface of the table. It's very precise in its meaning.

    "clear up" on the other hand does not work here because it's a set phrase meaning, in a literal way, darkness changing into clarity or brightness as in:

    "The sky had been dark and gloomy but now it has cleared up."

    (Dark clouds are no longer present, they have disappeared, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and clear)

    or metaphorical as in:

    "I could never understand algebra, but the latest math professor at school finally cleared up my confusion."

    (Dark clouds of confusion about algebra :) are no longer present in my mind, my understanding is clear.:warning: :thumbsup: )
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    You can use just "clear" (without "up") to mean remove objects from the surface of, as in "We cleared the table" = We took the dishes/silverware/floral decorations, etc. away from and off the surface of the table. It's very precise in its meaning.

    "clear up" on the other hand does not work here because it's a set phrase meaning, in a literal way, darkness changing into clarity or brightness as in:

    "The sky had been dark and gloomy but now it has cleared up."

    (Dark clouds are no longer present, they have disappeared, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and clear)

    or metaphorical as in:

    "I could never understand algebra, but the latest math professor at school finally cleared up my confusion."

    (Dark clouds of confusion about algebra :) are no longer present in my mind, my understanding is clear.:warning: :thumbsup: )
    We also hear about poison ivy, acne and other skin inflammations "clearing up".
     
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