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Question
Hi
"Could someone pick up the laundry?"

Why we can not use take away instead of "pick up"?

and

"Could someone take away the dishes?"
Why we can not use pick up instead of "take away"?

Answer
Dear Farzad:

Hi

*** Hello, little brother!

"Could someone pick up the laundry?"

Why we can not use take away instead of "pick up"?

*** You can use "take away," but that is not the common expression.  "Pick up" means that someone will go to the place where the laundry is and then remove it, in order to place it
somewhere else, such as one's home.

and

"Could someone take away the dishes?"
Why we can not use pick up instead of "take away"?

*** Again, you CAN use "pick up the dishes," but the common expression for REMOVING the dishes is to "take them away."  If you are in a restaurant and have finished your meal, a waiter will come to your table and REMOVE the used dishes.  He will PICK THEM UP from the table, but then he has to take them somewhere.  "Take away" suggests that he not only PICKS them up, but he also TAKES them away.  If he just picked them up, the action ends; there is no suggestion that he takes them away to some other place, such as the kitchen.

Your question is very good, Farzad.  Sometimes these English phrases mean almost the same thing.  Just remember that "pick up" means to get something from some place.  "Take away" means to pick up, but it also suggests removing the item or items from where they are.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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