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I know we can "do up" or "button up" multiple buttons, but can we use these phrases when we talk about one single button as well? For example, is it correct to say,

"One of the buttons on your shirt is undone. Do it up."

or

"One of the buttons on your shirt is undone. Button it up."

I think those phrases are probably only used when referring to multiple buttons. What do you think?

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    You can "button up your lip" and that has no actual buttons at all.
    – The Photon
    Jan 6, 2021 at 18:34
  • if it were relating to "multiple buttons", it would be "button them up", wouldn't it? Jan 6, 2021 at 18:42
  • I know that do it/do that/do so are common and do serves as a substitute verb for the previously stated verb. However, button (sth) up seems a phrasal verb.. (do it up sounds weird to me, Idk) Jan 6, 2021 at 18:50
  • The verbification of nouns (or nounification of verbs, depending) of Button that button! doesn't have anywhere near the grace of Shakespeare's Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle. Jan 6, 2021 at 18:52
  • @AndrewTobilko There's nothing 'weird' about do up a button (not in my British English, at least). Jan 7, 2021 at 9:48

1 Answer 1

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It's the shirt you "button up", not the buttons.

So "button it up" refers to the shirt (singular) not the buttons (however many or few) there are of them.

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