I came across this sentence in a conversation book. It is by itself alone, so It doesn’t have context around it. The sentence is ”Please clean up the room after you.”

I think it could mean after you’ve done with the room or behind you.


I can see why this would be tricky for a learner to parse. The key is knowing that clean up after is a phrasal verb.

Cambridge defines it as:

clean up after sb phrasal verb to remove dirt or problems that someone has made : I'm fed up with cleaning up after you all the time.

Macmillan says:

clean up after someone phrasal verb to clean a place after someone has made it dirty or messy : Residents have been told to clean up after their dogs.

and M-W says:

clean up after idiom to make a place clean after it has been left dirty or messy by (someone) : His mother is always cleaning up after him. You should learn to clean up after yourself.

As for the sentence in the book, I think I would word it slightly differently:

Please clean up the room after yourself.

That’s how I’ve usually heard the phrase used reflexively, when “you” has made the mess and “you” is expected to clean it.

  • Aw! I completely missed it! Thanks! This is indeed new to me...clean up after someone is a phrasal verb! :)
    – Maulik V
    Mar 22 '18 at 8:01

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