Can we use the verb "dress" without a direct object or should we only use the phrasal-verb "dress up"? How different are these two sentences?

  • I dressed and came out.
  • I dressed up and came out.
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    What did the dictionary tell you about the transitivity of "dress" and why didn't it help? – ColleenV Nov 24 '17 at 17:57
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    I didn't look in the dictionary. – SovereignSun Nov 24 '17 at 17:59
  • "dress up" means to wear something fancy or dress in something fancy. It can also mean to improve the appearance of something: "dress up windows with drapes" or "dress up a speech with fancy words or quotations from famous people." The verb "dress" by itself can mean a lot more things than just "putting clothes on", so you should take a look at it. – Nick Nov 25 '17 at 0:36
  • Might I ask what a "liable verb" is? I have never heard "liable" used this way and I've looked it up to see whether it is a grammatical term and I cannot find anything on it. – Nick Nov 25 '17 at 1:51
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    The salient interpretation of intransitive "dress" is "to dress oneself", but the object is merely understood rather than be overtly stated. The verbal idiom "dress up" means to dress in smart or formal clothes, or in some costume or fancy dress. – BillJ Nov 25 '17 at 7:16

No object is needed:

I shall dress before breakfast


I shall dress up for dinner

means you will wear something formal or fancy.

There is a similar use of up with the verb talk:

I shall talk about our plan

says the plan will be discussed, whereas

I shall talk up our plan

says you will be using your talking skills to promote your plan.

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