AE 278 – Expression: To Set Up Shop

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you to use TO SET UP SHOP like a native!


Click HERE To Get Downloads

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Android | RSS

Download the PDF + MP3

AE 278 – Expression: To Set Up Shop

G’day guys.

Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.

This is going to be an expression episode.

I’ve decided to do this down near the beach, on Lord Howe Island just to do something a little different.

Let’s go.

So the expression today guys is “to set up shop”, “to set up shop”.

As usual, let’s go through what the different words or the different verbs and everything in this expression mean.

The first one, “to set up”, “to set up” can mean many different things.

It’s a phrasal verb.

It can mean to establish, to create, to organise, to put together.

So some examples of this could be, to set up a meeting between two people is to organise, to establish, to put together a meeting between two people or more.

To set up a business is to establish or to create a business or a company.

And to set up say a picnic would be to organise a picnic with people so you could call them up and say, “Hey. Do you want to do a picnic this weekend? Let’s go out. We’ll have a picnic.”

That’s setting up the event.

Or you could actually set up the physical picnic where you got the rugs out, the food out, the drinks out, the chairs out, the cutlery out, everything.

That’s organising the picnic itself, and you could say that you were setting the picnic up.

The other word here “shop”, “a shop” is a place of business.

So it’s where something sold a surf shop is where things like towels and boardies, rashies, surfboards, sunscreen, everything to do with the beach is sold in a surf shop.

A bottle shop or a bottle-o is somewhere that sells alcohol in Australia.

So you go to the bottle-o or you go to the bottle shop to buy beer, wine, liqueur, spirits, whatever it is that you’re going to drink.

And a grocery store or a grocery shop is a shop that sells groceries, food, drink, items that you need around the house, whatever it is.

A grocery shop sells groceries.

So I’m sure you guys get now what “a shop” is and what the verb “to set up” means.

But the phrase “to set up shop” can have both a literal and figurative meaning.

And let’s go through those as usual guys.

So if you set up shop literally, I would imagine this refers to setting up a shop that is mobile.

So imagine that you go to a footy match and someone has a small kind of mobile shop that sells hotdogs or sells food.

Setting up that shop would be literally taking that to the footy match that day and organising it, getting everything out, setting up shop.

You can imagine too that if you went to a fete or to a market on weekends, you know, a farmer’s market where food is sold, items are sold, trinkets, all sorts of things at these markets are sold.

There’re stalls or stands or very small shops that people set up that are temporary.

They organise a location, and they set that shop up on that place, you know, on that location for the day, or for the few days that the market or fete is open.

So that’s the literal meaning of to set up shop.

It’s to organise a set up the store, the shop, the store, the stand that’s kind of temporary.

So the figurative meaning though would be to locate yourself, to pick a spot and settle down, to set yourself up for the day in a specific location to do something.

So whatever that something may be, it’s for a place to be your home base a location that you’re centred around for a specific amount of time, usually short and temporary.

So as usual let’s go through some examples guys.



So the first one, imagine you’ve got a friend has come over to stay at your house, and you’ve said to them, “Come into my home. We’ve got a few different bedrooms. You’ve got the lounge room as well. You can choose wherever you want to stay. It’s up to you.”

And then, they choose a bedroom and pull all their stuff out, they set the bed up.

And yeah, they set up shop in that room.

So you would come and find them in that bedroom and be like, “Oh. Looks like they’ve set up shop in this room.”

They’ve organised themselves. They’ve picked this spot. This is their location.

They’ve set up shop in this specific room.


Example number two could be that you go to a cricket match or a footy match or a rugby match in Australia, and you buy a ticket to get in, but there’s not really specific seating for you.

So you get in and you can pick wherever you want to go and sit down that’s available.

So you can pick your own seat.

Maybe there’s some grass fields that you can sit on and you know set up a picnic, or put down towels or rugs or something and sit there for the day.

If it was going with my dad or something and a few of my friends he might say, “Where do you guys want to set up shop?”.

So it would be like he’s come into the footy ground, the cricket ground, the rugby ground.

He’s said to us, “Where do you guys want to set up shop? Where do you want to sit? Where do you want to be located for the day? Where should we be centred around for the day today?”.

And you know I would say, “OK that place over there looks good. That bit of grass is nice. Let’s set up shop there. We should set up shop over here. We’ll put all our stuff out, we’ll pull our drinks out, put our bags down, put the rugs down, and set up shop.”


Example number three could be imagine that you’re going camping.

So imagine that you’re going to a place we used to go all the time called Tidal River.

This is a tidal river, a river that’s found in Wilson’s Promontory, or Wilson’s Promontory, Wilson’s Prom, down in Victoria.

And when you buy a ticket to go down there or you buy a sort of pass to get into the national park and go to the camping ground, the camping ground is huge.

There’s hundreds of places that you can set up shop.

There’s hundreds of places that you can pick.

You can look around you can drive around if it’s busy you’re going to have a difficult time finding somewhere to set up shop.

If it’s not busy you can set up shop anywhere.

You could pick a nice spot down by the river, under a nice tree, you could set up shop where ever you feel comfortable.


One last example, I guess, number four today, is that I have decided to set up shop on this picnic bench in front of these two hills at the lagoon here on Lord Howe Island.

So this is where I have set up shop to make some of these videos.

It’s where I’ve set up shop to make this expression video.

This is where I’ve set up shop.

So as usual guys let’s go through some listen and repeat exercises here guys where I will use the expression “to set up shop” in a phrase, and this is a chance for you to practice your pronunciation.

Let’s go.

Listen and repeat:

I’ve set up shop here.
You’ve set up shop here.
He’s set up shop here.
She’s set up shop here.
We’ve set up shop here.
They’ve set up shop here.
It’s set up shop here.

Good one guys.

As usual, as we’ve been doing quite a bit, let’s go through a little bit of a pronunciation and connected speech tip for this episode.

So if you go back and listen to those listen and repeat sentences you’re going to notice that I used a T-Flap when I say that T in the phrase or verb “set up”.

So this happens when there’s a vowel either side of a T in English.

It’s definitely very common in Australian English.

It might not necessarily be the case in all forms, but in Australia it’s definitely something that you want to pay attention to if you want to sound like a native.

So in the example above there’s a T surrounded by two vowels.

So you’ve got “ɛ” and “ʌ” on the either side of the T in the middle “sɛt ʌp”.

When this happens in Australian English the T gets hit with a flap instead of well enunciated “T” sound, and it sounds a little bit more like a D.

So you get a hear “SEDUP” and this is what my tongue is doing, “SEDUP”, “SEDUP”, “SEDUP”, as opposed to “SETUP”, because the tongue comes up and then flicks back out “SETUP”, “SETUP”.

So instead of that you’re going to set up, set up, set up, set up.

So this is done by flapping the tongue up and hitting the roof of the mouth very quickly where you would normally place your tongue to say a T sound or a D sound, except it’s rapid.

It just moves across like this set up, set up, set up.

So as usual guys, we’ll go through another listen and repeat exercise where you can focus on perfecting this sound and sound a lot more like a native.

So let’s just say the well enunciated T first five times in the phrasal verb set up, set up, set up, set up, set up, set up, set up.

Now let’s practice that with the T-Flap set up, set up, set up, set up, set up.

Now let’s repeat the lesson and repeat exercise guys.

And pay attention to this T-flap.

When I speak quickly and say these sentences like a native.

Let’s go.

Listen and repeat:

I’ve set up shop here.
You’ve set up shop here.
He’s set up shop here.
She set up shop here.
We’ve set up shop here.
They’ve set up shop here.
It’s set up shop here.

So there you go guys.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Hopefully that better equips you to sound more like a native when you speak English.

And remember, you can learn Australian English even faster when you sign up to the Aussie English Supporter Pack, and you’ll get instant access to all the bonus content for these episodes, all the bonus exercises, as well as all of the previous episodes that are up and online.

And I’ve specifically made these to help you sound more like a native English speaker, and help you learn English even faster.

Anyway guys, thanks for listening, thanks for watching and I’ll see you soon.

Enjoy Lord Howe Island while you get the chance.

See you guys.

itunes-logo (1)
spotify-small (1) (1)
icon-stitcher (1)

Get more out of every episode!

Here's what you get when you sign up!

  • Read while you listen using the Premium Podcast player.
  • Understand every word in every episode.
  • Download all PDF transcripts and MP3s for 600+ episodes.
  • Get access to bonus member-only episodes.

Download my eBook!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Recent Podcast Episodes

    Related Articles


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Download on Android or iPhone below!

    Ready to test your knowledge of some English expressions?

    Start Now