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to stack up (phrasal verb) Options
offroad
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 2:33:22 PM
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Joined: 8/23/2010
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Dear teachers

Do these sentences read well?

They are getting ready to stack up his skills with their oponents.
They are preparing themselves to stack up their abilities against others.
They are going to stack up their knowledge to their competitors.



Many thanks
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 2:51:13 PM

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I'd use compare or measure up in all these cases.
thar
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 2:51:20 PM

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I do not know about others' use of this verb, but from what I have read and heard, none of these sound right.


to stack up is to be comparable, to be equal to. It is not confrontational.
You stack up against something, so the first and third are wrong because 'with' and 'to' sound wrong.

but to me the second sentence also sounds a bit off. Maybe because it is not transitive:

their abilities do not stack up against others ( intransitive)
they do not stack up...

but you do not 'stack up your abilities'.

the simple non-phrasal verb can be transitive
they stack boxes

and the phrasal can be intransitive, as above, or passive
when his abiliites are stacked up against others...

but I think that is what sounds wrong with this, the 'to stack up their abilities'.
but now it is starting to sound OK,....so I will stop talking!
vil
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 3:37:44 PM
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Joined: 9/8/2010
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Location: Bulgaria
stack up Informal
1. To measure up or equal: Their gift doesn't stack up against his.
2. To make sense; add up: Her report just doesn't stack up.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/stack

stack up = to compare to

How do we stack up to the competition?

How does our product stack up against those of our competitors?

stack up = make, earn money

We should be able to stack up a reasonable profit if we sell now.

stack up = turn out

This is how things stack up today.

Your story just doesn't stack up.

http://www.answers.com/topic/stack-up
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 5:12:20 PM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hello!

I thought I would add my comments as a British English speaker: Whistle

This meaning is very foreign to me but I did find it in the most modern Oxford dictionary (it does not appear in the one from just five years ago). I have never heard it used this way - like Jyrkkä Jätkä, I would used 'measure up' or 'compare' normally. "Cheap whiskey does not compare to good Malt Whiskey", "Education of today does not measure up to education fifty years ago". Anxious

The usual meaning of 'stack up' (when speaking about non-physical things like abilities or problems) and the one which most English people would immediately try to 'make fit' in the sentence is "to accumulate". "His problems stacked up until he felt despair", "His abilities stacked up over time as he studied more and more".

For concrete, physical objects:
Stack:
1 [transitive, intransitive] stack (something) (up) to arrange objects neatly in a pile; to be arranged in this way
to stack boxes
logs stacked up against a wall
Do these chairs stack?
stacking chairs
2 [transitive] stack something (with something) to fill something with piles of things
They were busy stacking the shelves with goods.
3 [intransitive, transitive] stack (something) (up) if aircraft stack (up) or are stacked (up) over an airport, there are several flying around waiting for their turn to land.


For your sentences, with a meaning of "test against", I would use:
They are getting ready to play off his skills against their opponents.
They are preparing themselves to pit their abilities against others.
They are going to test their knowledge against their competitors'.

offroad
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 6:20:31 PM
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Joined: 8/23/2010
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How about these?

They are getting ready to stack up his skills against (those of) their opponents.
They are preparing themselves to stack up their abilities against (those of) others.
They are going to stack up their knowledge against their (that of) competitors.
Ava
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 7:12:04 PM

Rank: Member

Joined: 4/17/2011
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Neurons: 157
Yes to vil and offroad. This is a commonly used expression in informal AE.
How do our sales stack up against last year's?
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:03:48 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
offroad wrote:
How about these?

They are getting ready to stack up his skills against (those of) their opponents.
They are preparing themselves to stack up their abilities against (those of) others.
They are going to stack up their knowledge against their (that of) competitors.


These are still a little off. As thar explained, "to stack up" is intransitive in this idiom. It means "to be worthy", "to be adequate", or "to amount to something", not "to contest" or "to compete".

"They are getting ready so their skills will stack up to their opponents'."
"They are preparing themselves to see if their abilities stack up against those of the others."
"They are going to find out whether their knowledge stacks up against their competitors' knowledge."
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