I know that it’s common in British English to say things like

You go on ahead. I’ll catch you up.

That usage is never encountered in American English. We would say, “I’ll catch up with you.”

In American English, the only use of catch someone up is in things like

I’ve been home in bed with the flu all week. Could you catch me up on what’s been happening at work?

where it means bring someone up to date by informing them of recent developments.

Do the Brits use this latter sense too?

  • 1
    Looking on Google ngrams, this usage seesm to be relatively recent (nothing much until ~2000) in both varieties, with the British English corpus showing about 2/3 as many instances as the American corpus. I'm a (mainly) Canadian English speaker with a lot of British English underneath, and I have both uses.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 10 at 17:44
  • As a British English speaker, I'd say "catching someone up on the latest events" sounds like a recent Americanism. It's totally normal to use the intransitive version and say "I'm going to catch up on the news" meaning refresh myself. I don't have anything beyond my intuition though.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 11 at 14:59
  • @StuartF, the Brits’ I’ll catch you up tickles my anglophilia streak in much the same way as hearing Trevor Eve in a promo—for Waking the Dead if I remember correctly—shout menacingly, “Don’t mess me about!” (That’s another phrasal verb that’s restricted to the right side of the Pond.) Commented May 11 at 15:06
  • I'd say that the transitive multi-word verb catch [someone] up is truly obligatorily separable in its British usage. 'I'll catch you up' / 'You'll never catch John up'. Perhaps with weighty objects (regarding 'catch up' as transitive) the object might be placed after the particle. Commented Jun 15 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


British person who has been living in the US for over a decade. I am reasonably confident that it is not used in this form in British English, at least it was not when I lived there. I think in this scenario in British English the "catch" part of the second sentence would not be used at all making it:

I’ve been home in bed with the flu all week. What’s been happening at work?

Although I think you may also hear:

I’ve been home in bed with the flu all week. Could you bring me up to speed on what’s been happening at work?

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