#107 – TO OWN UP

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= to confess, to admit to doing something bad or embarrassing
To own up TO something
E.g. “Jeff owned up to stealing the biscuits”
“You have to own up to the mistakes you’ve made.”


Hello! You are listening to A Phrasal Verb a Day. My name is Luke Thompson, this is episode number 106 (actually 107) and the phrasal verb that I am teaching you in this one is TO OWN UP or TO OWN UP to something, ok? I own up, you own up, she owns up, they owned up or they are owned up to it, I owned up to it, ok?

So you can just say to own up, on its own, without an object but if you add an object on to that verb, you need the preposition ‘to’, ok? So, “I owned up to it”, let’s say, or simply “I owned up”. Own is spelled o-w-n, it’s an irregular verb, so the -ed ending is added if it’s in the past or if it’s the past participle and it’s just pronounced owned, “owned up” in the past there, ok? Now, what does it actually mean? Well, if you own up to something, it means that you admit to doing something wrong or you confess to something.

Let’s say for example, in the office, someone has stolen all the biscuits. You bought some biscuits for the office and you put them in the biscuit drawer at the beginning of the week and then by the end of monday, you look in the drawer, someone has taken all the biscuits, and so, you need to launch some sort of investigation in order to find out who stole the biscuits and so, at the beginning of tuesday, you say “look”, you say to the office, “look, I bought biscuits for the whole office, there were suppose to last… last the whole week, but someone has stolen them. And so, we’re looking for someone to OWN UP to this. Okay? If you did this, then, look, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I understand that biscuits are delicious. Sometimes, you don’t want to share them, you want just take them all for yourself. So, if someone, you know, whoever did this, just come to my office and OWN UP, okay? And we will talk about it.That’s the main thing. Someone needs to OWN UP about(to) it”. And then maybe, you know, like later on that week, Jeff comes into the office, because he feels guilty, because he stole the biscuits and he comes in and he says, “Look, I just wanted to OWN UP to the biscuit thing. That was me. I’m sorry, but, you know, I’ve got… You know, I dealt with my biscuit problem for months and months but then, just at the beginning of this week, I don’t know, maybe it’s stress, I found that I just had a real craving for biscuits, and so, it was me, okay? I took the biscuits from the drawer. I kept them for myself. I ate them all. I’m sorry. But, look, I’ve OWNED UP now. Is there any way I could be forgiven?” And you might say, “Look, Jeff, you know, I understand the problems that you’ve had with biscuits but I’m glad that you had the courage to OWN UP to this and look, we’re going to… We’re going to arrange for you to have a counselling session with the canceler, who works in the office. She’ll talk to you about the biscuit thing, but thanks for OWNING UP to it”.

Okay? Right. So, there you go. To OWN UP to something is like to admit to doing something wrong or to confess to something. Okay. Something that is bad or something that is embarrassing, you admit to it. Let’s have a quick look on Google here. If we just google the phrase OWN UP TO in speech marks and we click on the news tab, then we can see a few different things here.

Justin Bieber, this is in Huffington Post from May this year, Justin Bieber… And the title is “Justin Bieber on his bad boy streak”, so this is Justin Bieber talking about his sort of the… The fact that he’s a bit of a bad boy. Is he a bad boy, really? Well, apparently, he’s been doing things that he shouldn’t be doing and he has talked about it. He’s dealt with the fact that he’s done some bad things and he says “You have to OWN UP to the mistakes”. Okay? So, “on OWNING UP to his bad boy ways, you have to OWN UP to the mistakes. You have to say “I’m sorry if I’ve let you down, I always want to be honest and let people know that those mistakes aren’t who I am. Who I am is someone who really cares about people.” So, Justin Bieber apparently has OWNED UP to his mistakes. I think he was arrested some time ago and I think he was caught in possession of some illegal substances. I think, but anyway, he’s trying to OWN UP to the mistakes that he’s made in the past to try and clear up his image. What else?

“Watch Ubisoft OWN UP to the mess that was Assassin’s Creed Unity”. Here’s a story from Polygon, which appears to be a computer game magazine or a computer game website, and it’s about the computer game called Assassin’s Creed, if you’re a computer game fan, you might know about this game. It’s one of the biggest computer game franchises that’s around at the moment and I think they… Recently, they’ve come out with a new version of their game which is set in London. But before that I believe they had one set in Paris during the revolution and I think it was called Assassin’s Creed Unity, and apparently, according to this report, there were lots of problems, lots of technical issues with this game, and it seems that now Ubisoft have released a video as way of apologizing for all the problems that they had in this version of the game and the title of this report on polygon.com is “Watch Ubisoft OWN UP to the mess that was Assassin’s Creed Unity”. I expect Ubisoft are going to be saying “Look, we realise that Assassin’s Creed Unity was a bit of a mess. There were lots of technical problems, but, you know, we admit to that, but the next Assassin’s Creed game is going to be amazing.”

Okay. So, there you go. There are other things Gordon Ramsay’s OWNED UP to making some mistakes. Here’s an article from something called Daily Life, which looks like it may be an Australian website and this one is about slave… slavery and, simply, the title of the article is “Australia needs to OWN UP to its slave history”. So, the article seems to be saying that Australia should try and confess to or admit to the fact that in the past they had slaves in Australia. I think this article comes about in response to the fact that Ben Affleck, you know, the actor Ben Affleck recently admitted or was forced to admit that his family had a history of slave ownership. So, he had to OWN UP to the fact that he’s got slave ownership in his family.

Okay, there you go. You know, what a slave is don’t you, of course? Slavery. Something that, I guess, it’s not completely eradicated from the world but used to be much more common. Obviously, you know, back when the USA was first populated, a lot of European settlers who went to the USA they also brought slaves with them often taken from Africa. So, slavery was a big deal in the United States, it was a big part of their social life and their economy up until probably around the Civil War and the abolition of slavery by Abraham Lincoln, but slavery is still a big part of America’s past, and it’s something that they seem to be dealing with more and more and that’s prompting other countries to OWN UP to the fact they had slaves in the past as well. And that includes Australia according to this article here.

Okay. That’s the end of this episode of “A Phrasal Verb a Day”. There you go. So, to OWN UP to something, just to admit to something, or to confess to something. Can I think of any examples that relate to the podcasts? I’d like to just… Well, okay. I said, didn’t I, that I’d do this every day. Well, I’d just like to OWN UP to the fact, that well, it’s true, I haven’t done it everyday, obviously. But, I’m trying, trying to make it. I’m trying to do more now. Okay? Good. I don’t have to make excuses for anything. It’s a free service. You get what you pay for. That’s the end of this episode. Speak to you again in another one fairly soon, probably tomorrow, but for now it’s time to just say ‘goodbye’.