Is it right to say, "I wish to know how good your pick up on French is, since you are working in France." Can we use the phrase "pick up" as a noun?

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    No - you might (just about) get away with uptake of there, but it's not great. You'd say "...to know how well you've picked up French". Or ...how good your grasp of French is. Aug 23, 2014 at 19:42
  • @FumbleFingers And this must be carefully distinguished from how good your pickup in French is, as when one seeks romantic encounters with Parisians. Aug 23, 2014 at 20:08
  • It can be used as a phrasal verb ("How quickly are you picking up French?"), but using it as a noun – as you have done in your question – would sound a bit odd to me.
    – J.R.
    Aug 24, 2014 at 1:47

2 Answers 2


Your proposed use of "pickup" as a noun is incorrect. There are two correct uses of "pickup" as a noun:

"Pickup" is short for "pickup truck". (This usage is common, and acceptable in all but the most formal contexts.)

A pickup truck typically has an enclosed cab and an open bed. The back of the cab is at the front of the bed. The bed has two short "sidewalls", and a "tailgate". It can typically carry one or two cubic yards of material. Depending on the make and model, the payload capacity can be anywhere from 750 to 2,500 pounds (300 - 1,100 kg).

Pickup trucks are often used by people who "pick up" loads, transport them somewhere, and drop them off.

"Pickup" is also an informal term for a discrete purchase or hiring. For example, a sports blogger might say, "That was a great pickup!" after his favorite team acquires a player on waivers. (In this scenario, another team "dropped" (fired) a player, and the blogger's team was able to hire the player.)

Usage examples:

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    There are more than two uses for "pickup" as a noun – as a matter of fact, NOAD lists eight. They include a person met at a bar (he was a handsome pickup, e.g.); the device on an electric guitar that converts string vibrations to electrical signals; introductory notes leading into the opening of a musical piece; a spike in economic data (a pickup in demand for silver, e.g.).
    – J.R.
    Aug 24, 2014 at 1:45

You would use:

"I wish to know how fluent you are in speaking French."

Pick up may be used as a substitute for learn:

"We can pick up French rapidly."

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