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Which word would you choose to fill in the gap following?
John tidied the living room while I cleared ___ the dirty dishes.
A. away B. out C. up D. off
I chose A and the answer key was also A. But when I looked up the dictionary to verify the answer, I found out that "clear away" and "clear up" had the same meaning - to make a place look tidier by putting things back where they belong. So why to choose A not C?
Please help me. Thanks in advance.
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linhtho0211"clear away" and "clear up" had the same meaning
I don't think I would use "clear up" in the context of your example. "clear away" is far preferable to my ear. Here is another example where "clear away" fits: "clear away the debris of war."

"clear up" is used more often for non-tangible messes, such as "clear up a misunderstanding", "clear up the confusion", "clear up a misconception", etc.
Comments  
Oops, I made a mistake. I mean "why choose A not C". "Why to choose" is wrong.
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When you clear up or clear a place up, you tidy things and put them away.
I cleared up my room.
So i think you should use cleared up.

If you clear out a container, room or house, you tidy it and throw away the things in it that you no longer want.
In your sentences if you cleared out your dirty dishes that means dishes have lost their importance and they will never be used further any more which is wrong because dishes will be reused after clearing them up.
So brother cleared up will be my answer.
But how about "clear away"?
When you clear things away or clear away, you put away the things that you have been using, especially for eating or cooking.
The waitress had cleared away the plates and brought coffee...
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 RayH's reply was promoted to an answer.