If you look at the picture on the website, or on your iPod, you will see what “catch” means. Someone has thrown a ball in the air. The little dog has run after the ball. He has jumped in the air with its mouth open. He wants to catch the ball in his mouth. So, “to catch” means to stop or hold something which is moving, like a ball which someone has thrown.
Now for our phrasal verb – “to catch up”. We can say “catch up with someone” or “catch someone up”. Imagine that you are running in a race. The leading runner is about 20 meters in front of you. If you run really fast, perhaps you can catch the leader up. Then you will be running beside the leader, and you might even win the race. And if the runners behind you run really hard, they may be able to catch up with you.
This sounds very energetic, so let us instead join Kevin and George in their normal Saturday afternoon activity, going to a football match. It is an exciting time. United are four places from the top of the Championship. Can they catch up with the top teams? Can they even win the Championship?
However, George is late. He is a teacher, and he has lots of school books to mark. He needs to catch up with his marking before he can go to the match. He phones Kevin to explain. “You go to the match now,” he says. “I'll catch up with you later when I have finished the marking”.
So Kevin sets off by himself. He catches a bus into town. But there are problems. The famous punk rock group Futile Vendetta are in town. Thousands of people want to catch their last concert, and thousands more want to catch a glimpse of the band. The bus gets caught in the traffic. The minutes go by, and the bus does not move. Eventually, Kevin gets off the bus and walks, and runs, to the football ground. He arrives just in time to catch the start of the match. George is there already. He finished his marking and caught a train to the stadium.
Unfortunately, the match is not very exciting and ends in a goalless draw. There is one thrilling moment when United's striker nearly scores, but the goalkeeper catches the ball safely. Never mind. Football is like that. Maybe next Saturday will be different.