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Someone texted me the following

What did you get up to?

And when I asked what that meant, told me it meant What are you doing tonight?. Now to me that doesn't make any sense, but I'm not a native speaker. The other person is. Before I entrench myself in an argument, I want to make sure I'm right. Does that make sense?

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Get up to + something" is a British and informal expression. It just means "do something."

So "What did you get up to" means "What did you do?"

Perhaps your friend wanted to ask you about how you spent your free time and also implied about the rest of it.

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"What did you get up to?" is asking what you've been doing, in the past.

"What are you doing tonight?" is asking what you will be doing, in the future.

They don't mean the same thing.

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What if, by saying, "What are you doing tonight?" the friend meant, "What have you been doing tonight?". Those can be pretty close in meaning. (I believe "What are you up to?" would be a better way to word the initial question, but I'm not sure I'd want to "entrench" myself in an argument over this.) –  J.R. Jun 17 '12 at 9:32
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‘What have you been up to?’ can express a suspicion of bad behaviour, but not necessarily. 'What are you up to tonight?' can, depending on circumstances, be simply an inquiry about this evening's plans.

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Barrie's answer is more correct than mine, from what I've read. I voted to delete my own, as it simply added confusion where others answered it well. –  shinyspoongod Jun 17 '12 at 20:39
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