Show and Show Up



Someone said,

"Where is Nash?"

And the other answerd,

"He hasn't shown."

My question is, I wonder if it works even without "up",

Shouldn't it have written like this? : He hasn't shown up.

Isn't "Up" necessary, is it?

Bunch Son

Posted 2014-05-02T11:10:17.697

Reputation: 721

1The correct version IS indeed shown up. Shown is what you could call slang-version. Similarly, disappeared is the correct version. – Stark07 – 2014-05-02T11:17:13.167

Please ask one question per question. Could you repost your other question separately? Thank you! – snailplane – 2014-05-02T11:43:22.070

1@Ashish: I think it's misleading to say *show up* is the "correct" version. With or without the preposition, to show [up] = turn up, put in an appearance is a colloquial form. I agree the *up* version is almost certainly more common, but that doesn't make the other in any way "incorrect". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-05-02T13:33:47.867

2Something has been elided (which of course is perfectly acceptable) but it doesn't have to be up. For example: he hasn't shown his face is also an oft-heard expression. – Jim – 2014-05-02T13:44:11.013

1@FumbleFingers - I didn't say it was "incorrect". Merely mentioned what sounded more correct. And in the context that the question was asked, "Shown up" is definitely more appropriate. – Stark07 – 2014-05-02T15:01:07.683



Given the proper context, the original ("He hasn't shown") can be correct, acceptable, and even preferred. There are three questions that need to be answered in the affirmative to demonstrate this:

  1. Does "He hasn't shown" make sense?
  2. Does "He hasn't shown" have a different connotation/meaning than "He hasn't shown up?"
  3. Could the different connotation of "He hasn't shown" be the intended connotation in some context?

The answer is "yes" to all of the above.

The use of language cannot always be constrained to either prescriptive or descriptive rules/statistics. As the saying goes, "rules are made to be broken". Breaking a language "rule" to better communicate a desired/intended concept/attitude/meaning is the difference between language competency and language mastery.

The rest of this post supports this answer.

Supporting Concepts


In The aspectual function of particles in phrasal verbs. (Walkova, Milada, 2013), phrasal verbs can imply an an aspect of punctuality or durativity, and this can conflict with the verb's tense/aspect. The phrasal verb "show up" has an inherent, idiomatic connotation of a punctual/completed-action. Here are some examples:

  • I'm glad you finally showed up. (CORRECT SENTENCE. I'm glad you finally arrived/appeared.)
  • He never showed up. (CORRECT SENTENCE. He was never seen. Emphasis on time.)
  • He did not show up. (CORRECT SENTENCE. Similar to above, but with emphasis on fact.)
  • Make sure you show up on time. (CORRECT SENTENCE. Make sure you are seen-to-arrive on time.)
  • While you are showing up to class, count how many seconds it takes to get to your chair.* (INCORRECT SENTENCE.)
  • While you are showing up to your chair, count how many seconds it takes to get to your chair.* (INCORRECT SENTENCE.)
  • While you are walking to your chair, count how many seconds it takes. (CORRECT SENTENCE.)
  • When you show up to class, count how many seconds it takes to get to your chair. (CORRECT SENTENCE.)
  • Note how the following dialog would not make any sense (INCORRECT SENTENCE):
    "Where is Nash?"
    "He was showing up about an hour ago, and then left."
    (Punctual: "Showing up" is something that can only happen once or in discrete iterations of relatively instantaneous time.)
  • Note how the following dialog makes more sense then the prior example (SEMI-CORRECT SENTENCE)
    "Where is Nash?"
    "He was showing about an hour ago, and then left."
    (Durational: "Showing" is something that - in a sense - someone can do over a period of continuous time.)


In Superlative Verbs: A Corpus-based Study of Semantic Redundancy in English Verb-particle Constructions (Hampe, 2002, p.191 to 193), Hampe points out that - unlike many purely idiomatic phrasal verbs - both [verb] and [verb]+up often have the same basic meaning, with the latter providing some type of extra emphasis, finishing state, completed state, or a specific semantic scope of the general verb. So for example, one might "save their money" or "save up their money". The meanings are the same, but the latter emphasizes a more complete concept of saving money over an extended time for a particular goal such as a purchase or an emergency. Similarly, one might "tear a sheet of paper" or "tear up a sheet of paper"; the latter indicates a specific type of tearing: tearing the paper into smaller pieces. And "fix the bike" is a general sense of doing some type of repair while "fix up the bike" connotes a more complete overhaul of the bike.

A Plausible Context

Nancy: "Where is Nash?"

John: "He hasn't shown."

Above, we have a scene where presumably1 Nancy herself just arrived on the scene, asking where Nash is since it's obvious that he is not present. While she is literally asking where he is currently located, she could be asking or connoting one of many different questions such as do you know where Nash is, why isn't Nash here, is Nash ok or is he hurt, I thought Nash was with you... why isn't he here with you, etc. These would all depend on context and the relationship between Nancy and John.

John is answering in the general sense ("show" instead of "show up") using the present perfect negative. "He has not shown" means "So far, at this time, he has not been seen to arrive." The question is, why did John say "shown" (durative/time-ambiguous)2 instead of "shown up" (punctual/completed)? To say "he hasn't shown" is avoiding the phrasal verb, and this could be intentional for a meaningful or rhetorical purpose. Here are a few possible reasons for this:

  • The idiom "show up" connotes a completed action of making an appearance. To "not show up" is often used to indicate a completed action of not-making an appearance. The phrase, "he hasn't shown up" could be too much emphasis on the lack of Nash's appearance.

  • It's obvious that he hasn't shown up, and to say so emphatically could be superfluous. Compare with the following: "Where is Nash?" / "He's not here." / "I can see that! If he were here, I wouldn't have asked the question!"*

  • John may be Nash's friend, and he's hedging to a softer statement. The sentence, "He didn't show up" would be more judgmental (and possibly damaging to Nash's reputation).

  • By using the present perfect aspect ("has not shown" instead of "did not show"), John implies that he has no idea where Nash is, and for all he knows, there's a possibility that Nash may still arrive.

1. It's ok for me to creatively "presume" or "make up" a context since that is the basis of my thesis: that one can create "some context" in which "he hasn't shown" would be preferred.
2. Even if one objects to "show" as being durational, it's still clear that "show up" is more emphatically punctual than "show" and all the following points are still valid.


Posted 2014-05-02T11:10:17.697

Reputation: 7 937

What a penetrating answer! Outstanding! +1 – Kinzle B – 2014-05-04T00:10:58.857


"Show",especially in American English, can also mean to arrive where you have arranged to meet somebody or do something.Example:"I waited for an hour but he didn't show. As for "it's time" there are two structures: It's time we disappeared.(Unreal Past) It's time (for somebody) to disappear. (Full infinitive) Both are referring to the present or to the future. Bear in mind, that native speakers don't always speak correctly, so it's quite normal to hear these kind of grammatically wrong sentences, like "It's time we leave.", in movies.


Posted 2014-05-02T11:10:17.697

Reputation: 3 562