Hook up

To “hook up” means to connect two things so that they work together in a system.

Today's story: Pig kidney transplant
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Hook up

Today’s expression is “hook up” and it means to connect two things so that they work together in a system. Warning, warning: as with many of the expressions we talk about, this one does have multiple meanings. I promise we will confine ourselves to just this one ordinary meaning; if you want to know the other possible meanings, you can look them up online. Just be careful.

When we say this, we often put an object in between the words “hook” and “up.” For example, if you’re looking to water your flowers, you might hook your hose up to the faucet. In that case, you connect the hose to the faucet, so that those two parts work together to help you water the flowers.

It’s common to use “hook up” with appliances in your house. Do you have an electric stove or a gas stove? I have gas; it’s the only way to go! If you buy a new range—that’s a stove and an oven put together—if you buy a new range, you’ll need to hook it up to the gas line in your kitchen. If you buy a refrigerator that has an icemaker, you’ll need to hook your refrigerator up to the water source. In all these cases, you’re connecting two things, so they work together.

If you move to a new apartment, you might need to get your cable, or your internet hooked up. That means you need to get connected to the network. In practice, the wires are probably already hooked up when you move in; you just need to activate the service. But if the previous tenant was with a different provider, you may need to get your unit hooked up to the company that you want to use.

How did you hear it today? In an experimental procedure, surgeons at New York University Hospital hooked up a pig’s kidney to a live human’s blood vessels. I am the last person in the world that should be giving a biology lesson, but according to the material I have read, your kidneys filter waste out of your blood. In this experimental surgery, the surgeons hooked up two of the human patient’s blood vessels to the pig’s kidney. They connected the blood vessels to the pig’s kidney so that the patient’s body would pump blood into the kidney. The connection worked successfully for 54 days.

Let’s reminisce about office life for a second. How many times have you gone into a conference room and struggled to get the projector to work? Countless times, I’ve been in meetings where the projector is on and showing a blue screen. Someone inevitably asks, “Is that thing even hooked up?” The question means, “Is the projector even connected to anything?”

A lot of electronics are wireless these days, and we don’t usually use “hook up” to describe a wireless connection. But not everything is wireless. The recording booth here at Plain English world headquarters is full of cords and cables. You should see what a mess it is. I hook my phone up to the mixer to produce the sound effects. I hook the microphone up to the mixer so, well, you can hear me. I hook up some headphones to the mixer so that I can hear what everything sounds like. And I hook the mixer up to the electronic audio recorder. All these are connections and the connections work together to make the system work.

Here’s a good example. When’s the last time you saw a payphone on the street? Years ago, I saw a payphone somewhere—I forget where—and I just laughed. I couldn’t believe they still existed! So, I picked up the handset to make a call, what I thought would be my last-ever call from a payphone. But alas, it wasn’t to be because the phone wasn’t even hooked up.

Quote of the Week

Willie Garson, the actor who played Stanford in the 1990s show “Sex and the City” died recently. I was never a huge fan of the show, but I have seen a lot of episodes over the years. Stanford always had a clever line on the tip of his tongue. I thought I’d see if I could pick a quote from him, so here’s one I like, “A New Yorker who does not take the subway is not a New Yorker you can trust.”

I like that one, “A New Yorker who does not take the subway is not a New Yorker you can trust.” That quote is from Willie Garson, playing Stanford in “Sex and the City.”

See you next time!

That’s all for today’s Plain English lesson. You made it through number 416; I made it through another science lesson. And guess what? Coming up on Thursday is yet another science and biology-related lesson. On Thursday, we’ll talk about a farm with no soil. I’ll let you ponder that for a bit.

Before we go, I wanted to give you a quick reminder that Plain English Plus+ is a great way to upgrade your English. One of the ways we do that is through live conversation calls. We’re now doing them three times a month. They’re about an hour each and you can join as many as you want. We usually have a small group of members who connect to practice talking about a recent lesson topic. We don’t always stick to the lesson topic; we see where the conversation takes us. If you sometimes feel nervous speaking in English, it’s great to join these calls. You can practice with us in a safe and supportive environment and then speak with more confidence in the real world.

So, for those of you who are Plain English Plus+ members, the links to the upcoming calls are on your dashboard. If you’re not yet a member, come try us out. We love having new members on our live calls. To learn more, just visit PlainEnglish.com/Plus

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Story: Pig kidney transplant