The cars that are going straight have the right of way. Which means we have to wait for them before we make our left turn. Where do you wait? The rule of thumb, if the light is green we want to wait up here in the intersection. As soon as this line clears and we have enough gap then we’re able to execute our left turn safely.

In this context, what is the difference between "wait up here" & "wait here"? Do I need to include the word up in this passage?

  • 1
    No difference - up is sometimes appended to verbs like wait, rest even though it doesn't really add anything to the intended sense. I'd say it's an informal colloquial usage, so I wouldn't include up in formal contexts. Jun 5, 2015 at 19:56
  • @FumbleFingers It is a bit informal, but certainly a meaningful indication of a different location, more advanced along the car’s path of travel. Jun 5, 2015 at 21:35
  • Often “wait up” or “wait” as imperatives are used interchangeably (as far as semantics, not register), but here I would argue that a meaningful distinction is made between “here” (the edge of the intersection the car is poised to enter, not mentioned explicitly in the quotation above) and “up here” (the middle of the intersection, ahead of the position on the edge). Jun 5, 2015 at 21:39
  • @Tyler: In contexts like the imperative Wait up! I'm coming! and similar, it seems to me there's an element of figurative up = further along [the route, whatever that may imply]. But I don't think you can get too spatially localised with some of these verb+**up** forms. Take I pulled up at the intersection, for instance. Jun 5, 2015 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


If you're driving and you say that you are going to wait here then that means that you are going to stop at your current location for a period of time.

If instead you say that you are going to wait up (t)here (at a location) then that means that you are approaching the location where you intend to wait. Wait up here would be used for a location that was close, wait up there for a location that was farther away.

The difference is between a location you currently occupy and one that will occupy in the future.

To confuse things further, suppose that the phrase only read wait up, and was used as an imperative. In that case it would mean that whoever you were speaking with wanted you to stop and allow them to get to your location before continuing onward.

Example: John and Emily are driving in separate cars, searching for their friend who will be leaving school soon, but they don't know exactly where their friend will exit the school. They are talking on the phone. Emily is far ahead of John.

  1. John: Wait up Emily, I can't even see you anymore.
  2. Emily: You're too slow. OK, I will wait here at the southeast corner of the school.
  3. John: OK, I'll wait up there at the northwest corner.
  1. John asked Emily to slow down or stop so that he could join her.
  2. Emily has already reached the location where she intends to wait for their friend, and let John know that.
  3. John told Emily where he intended to wait for their friend, though he had not yet reached it.

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