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I heard the phrase:

Don't forget to lock up.

in a movie. I think the person who said it meant to close all doors. I know what the word "lock" means but when we add that preposition "up" it seems to change the meaning totally.

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Yes, this is a phrasal verb.

It can be used transitively (Lock up the prisoner. Lock up all your valuables.)

Or it can be used without an object, which seems intransitive (as in the movie) It's really just short for "lock up [everything/whatever needs to be locked]. But it is almost a separate idiom that looks identical to, but behaves differently than the transitive phrasal verb.

Good job catching that distinction!

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Yes, the verb to lock up is a phrasal verb, more specifically: a particle phrasal verb.

Phrasal verbs are verbs that come with one or more other parts (particles and/or prepositions) and form one semantic unit. The meaning of the pieces can often not be understood separately, just as up in lock up does not really mean anything on its own.

There are two types of phrasal verbs: particle phrasal verbs and prepositional phrasal verbs.

Prepositional phrasal verbs take a prepositional phrase, which is not the case here. The up in your verb does not act as a preposition. Allow me to show you:

  • Did you lock up the shop?
  • Yes, I locked it up

A prepositional phrasal verb will always have the preposition in initial position within the prepositional phrase, even with pronouns:

  • Who's looking after the kids?
  • John's looking after them.

Here, after the kids and after them are prepositional phrases and the verb to look after is a prepositional phrasal verb.

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