Keep the good work up / Keep up the good work – Are they both grammatical?

I have always heard “Keep up the good work”, but “Keep the good work up” also sounds fine to me. Is it acceptable?


  1. Keep it up
  2. Keep up the good work.
  3. Keep the good work up.

This type of verb plus preposition combination is often called a separable phrasal verb in traditional grammar. It is called this because we can put the complement noun in between the verb and the preposition – or we can put it after preposition. Of course, however, when the complement is a pronoun, it must go in between the verb and the preposition:

  • put the pen down.
  • put down the pen.
  • put it down.
  • put down it. (ungrammatical).

However, although we can put the noun phrase complement, either before or after the preposition, we strongly prefer to put long noun phrases after the preposition:

  • He rolled the old Venetian rug up. (grammatical but awkward)
  • He rolled up the old Venetian rug. (grammatical, not awkward)

This means that, all things considered, we would tend to favour sentence (2) over sentence (3).

As an exhortation to our friends – as an imperative – keep up the good work might be considered a fixed phrase. However, when being used in a normal sentence to keep the good work up is not all that jarring, just a little awkward. It can be seen in published works. You can see it here, for example.

Nonetheless, the good work is a long enough noun phrase for us to strongly prefer to put it at the end of the sentence. Here is an Ngram for keep up the good work versus keep the good work up. (Not that Ngrams should be taken too seriously!):

Source : Link , Question Author : Ayse , Answer Author : Araucaria – Not here any more.

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