A cluttered basement. Fred is stacking some boxes, trying to free (up) some space.

Is there any difference between 'free some space' and 'free up some space'? Are both natural to use?

2 Answers 2


"Free" means to no longer bind.

"Free up" means to make available.

So one would free a cat from a cage, while another would free up their schedule.

Now, in many contexts we see freeing a person from their obligations to be the same as making the available for future obligations, so when talking about people "free" and "free up" are often used interchangeably.

Before, when slavery existed, "free" was very different than "free up" because free would imply a person was not owned by another person, while "free up" would only imply that the person (slave or freeman) was not busy.

  • "generally" - any references? Apr 24, 2022 at 13:25

to free something or someone is to give them their liberty or freedom to move about.

  • The dog was freed from the doghouse when he became trapped due to the wind.
  • The slaves were freed later than then indentured servants.

to free up something or someone that is occupied or busy is to open up a space or make it so a person is not busy.

  • He freed up room (or space) in the basement for the packages.
  • They freed up their schedules to accommodate the visitors.
  • I freed up ny bedroom. It was full of clutter.
  • The town freed up some resources (money) for the playground. [the funds had been tied up in a certificate of deposit]

free up for people or money is the opposite of being tied up.

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