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Phrasal Verbs
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A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb + a preposition or a verb +an adverb). A phrasal verb usually take s on a different meaning different from the original verb. 

 

There are no rules that might explain how phrasal verbs are formed. All you can do is look them up in a  dictionary and study their meanings. Below you will find a list of some frequently used phrasal verbs in alphabetical order together with their meaning and an example of use.

 

Verb

Meaning

Example

ask someone out

invite on a date

John asked Mary out to dinner.

ask around

ask many people the same question

I asked around but nobody has seen my wallet.

add up to something

equal

Your purchases add up to $500.

back something up

reverse

You'll have to back up your vehicle so that I can get out.

backsomeoneup

support

All my family members backed me up over my decision to quit my job.

blow up

explode

The  car blew up after it crashed into the wall.

blow something up

add air

We have to blow 50 balloons up for the party.

break down

stop functioning (vehicle, machine)

Our car broke down at the side of the highway in the snowstorm.

break down

get upset

The woman broke down when the police told her that her son had died.

break something down

divide into smaller parts

The manager broke the final project down into three separate parts.

break in

force entry to a building

A thief broke in last night and stole our TV.

break into something

enter forcibly

The fireman had to break into the room to rescue the children.

break something in

wear something a few times so that it doesn't look/feel new

I need to break these shoes in before we run next week.

break in

interrupt

The TV channel broke in to report the news of the plane crash.

break up

end a relationship

My girlfriend and I broke up before I moved to America.

break up

start laughing (informal)

The kids just broke up as soon as the clown started talking.

break out

escape

The prisoners broke out of jail when the guards were sleeping.

break out in something

develop a skin condition

I broke out in a rash after our camping trip.

bring someone down

make unhappy

This sad music is bringing me down.

bring someone up

raise a child

His grandparents brought him up after his parents died.

bring something up

start talking about a subject

My mother walks out of the room when my father brings up sports.

bring something up

vomit

He drank so much that he brought his dinner up in the toilet.

call around

phone many different places/people

We called around but we couldn't find the car part we needed.

call someone back

return a phone call

I called the company back but the offices were closed for the weekend.

call something off

cancel

Smith called the wedding off because he wasn't in love with his fiancé.

call on someone

ask for an answer or opinion

The professor called on me for question 5.

call on someone

visit someone

We called on you last night but you weren't home.

call someone up

phone

Give her your phone number and she will call you up when she in Sevilla.

calm down

relax after being angry

You are still mad. You need to calm down before you drive the car.

not care for someone/something

not like (formal)

I don't care for his behaviour.

catch up

get to the same point as someone else

You'll have to run faster than that if you want to catch up with Marty.

check in

arrive and register at a hotel or airport

We will get the hotel keys when we check in.

check out

leave a hotel

You have to check out of the hotel before 12:00 a.m.

check someone/something out

look at carefully, investigate

The company checks out all new employees.

check out someone/something

look at (informal)

Check out the crazy hair on that girl!

cheer up

become happier

We cheered up when we heard the good news.

cheer someone up

make happier

She brought me some flowers to cheer me up.

chip in

help

If everyone chips in we can get the kitchen painted by noon.

clean something up

tidy, clean

Please clean up your bedroom before you go outside.

come across something

find unexpectedly

I came across these old photos when I was tidying the closet.

come apart

separate

The top and bottom come apart if you pull hard enough.

come down with something

become sick

My nephew came down with chicken pox this weekend.

come forward

volunteer for a task or to give evidence

The woman came forward with her husband's finger prints.

come from somewhere

originate in

The art of origami comes from Asia.

count on someone/something

rely on

I am counting on you to make dinner while I am out.

cross something out

draw a line through

Please cross out your old address and write your new one.

cut back on something

consume less

My doctor wants me to cut back on sweets and fatty foods.

cut something down

make something fall to the ground

We had to cut the old tree in our yard down after the storm.

cut in

interrupt

Your father cut in while I was dancing with your uncle.

cut in

pull in too closely in front of another vehicle

The bus driver got angry when that car cut in.

cut in

start operating (of an engine or electrical device)

The air conditioner cuts in when the temperature gets to 22ºC.

cut something off

remove with something sharp

The doctors cut off his leg because it was severely injured.

cut something off

stop providing

The phone company cut off our phone because we didn't pay the bill.

cut someone off

take out of a will

My grandparents cut my father off when he remarried.

cut something out

remove part of something (usually with scissors and paper)

I cut this ad out of the newspaper.

do someone/something over

beat up, ransack (Br.E., informal)

He's lucky to be alive. His shop was done over by a street gang.

do something over

do again (N.Amer.)

My teacher wants me to do my essay over because she doesn't like my topic.

do away with something

discard

It's time to do away with all of these old tax records.

do something up

fasten, close

Do your coat up before you go outside. It's snowing!

dress up

wear nice clothing

It's a fancy restaurant so we have to dress up.

drop back

move back in a position/group

Andrea dropped back to third place when she fell off her bike.

drop in/by/over

come without an appointment

I might drop in/by/over for tea some time this week.

drop someone/something off

take someone/something somewhere and leave them/it there

I have to drop my sister off at work before I come over.

drop out

quit a class, school etc

I dropped out of Science because it was too difficult.

eat out

eat at a restaurant

I don't feel like cooking tonight. Let's eat out.

end up

eventually reach/do/decide

We ended up renting a movie instead of going to the theatre.

fall apart

break into pieces

My new dress fell apart in the washing machine.

fall down

fall to the ground

The picture that you hung up last night fell down this morning.

fall out

separate from an interior

The money must have fallen out of my pocket.

fall out

(of hair, teeth) become loose and unattached

His hair started to fall out when he was only 35.

figure something out

understand, find the answer

I need to figure out how to fit the piano and the bookshelf in this room.

fill something in

to write information in blanks (Br.E.)

Please fill in the form with your name, address, and phone number.

fill something out

to write information in blanks (N.Amer.)

The form must be filled out in capital letters.

fill something up

fill to the top

I always fill the water jug up when it is empty.

find out

discover

We don't know where he lives. How can we find out?

find something out

discover

We tried to keep the time of the party a secret, but Samantha found it out.

get something across/over

communicate, make understandable

I tried to get my point across/over to the judge but she wouldn't listen.

get along/on

like each other

I was surprised how well my new girlfriend and my sister got along/on.

get around

have mobility

My grandfather can get around fine in his new wheelchair.

get away

go on a vacation

We worked so hard this year that we had to get away for a week.

get away with something

do without being noticed or punished

Jason always gets away with cheating in his maths tests.

get back

return

We got back from our vacation last week.

get something back

receive something you had before

Liz finally got her Science notes back from my room-mate.

get back at someone

retaliate, take revenge

My sister got back at me for stealing her shoes. She stole my favourite hat.

get back into something

become interested in something again

I finally got back into my novel and finished it.

get on something

step onto a vehicle

We're going to freeze out here if you don't let us get on the bus.

get over something

recover from an illness, loss, difficulty

I just got over the flu and now my sister has it.

get over something

overcome a problem

The company will have to close if it can't get over the new regulations.

get round to something

finally find time to do (N.Amer.: get around tosomething)

I don't know when I am going to get round to writing the thank you cards.

get together

meet (usually for social reasons)

Let's get together for a BBQ this weekend.

get up

get out of bed

I got up early today to study for my exam.

get up

stand

You should get up and give the elderly man your seat.

give someone away

reveal hidden information about someone

His wife gave him away to the police.

gives omeone away

take the bride to the altar

My father gave me away at my wedding.

give something away

ruin a secret

My little sister gave the surprise party away by accident.

give something away

give something to someone for free

The library was giving away old books on Friday.

give something back

return a borrowed item

I have to give these skates back to Franz before his hockey game.

give in

reluctantly stop fighting or arguing

My boyfriend didn't want to go to the ballet, but he finally gave in.

give something out

give to many people (usually at no cost)

They were giving out free perfume samples at the department store.

give something up

quit a habit

I am giving up smoking as of January 1st.

give up

stop trying

My maths homework was too difficult so I gave up.

go after someone

follow someone

My brother tried to go after the thief in his car.

go after something

try to achieve something

I went after my dream and now I am a published writer.

go against someone

compete, oppose

We are going against the best soccer team in the city tonight.

go ahead

start, proceed

Please go ahead and eat before the food gets cold.

go back

return to a place

I have to go back home and get my lunch.

go out

leave home to go on a social event

We're going out for dinner tonight.

go out with someone

date

Jesse has been going out with Luke since they met last winter.

go over something

review

Please go over your answers before you submit your test.

go over

visit someone nearby

I haven't seen Tina for a long time. I think I'll go over for an hour or two.

go without something

suffer lack or deprivation

When I was young, we went without winter boots.

grow apart

stop being friends over time

My best friend and I grew apart after she changed schools.

grow back

regrow

My roses grew back this summer.

grow up

become an adult

When Jack grows up he wants to be a fireman.

grow out of something

get too big for

Elizabeth needs a new pair of shoes because she has grown out of her old ones.

grow into something

grow big enough to fit

This bike is too big for him now, but he should grow into it by next year.

hand something down

give something used to someone else

I handed my old comic books down to my little cousin.

hand something in

submit

I have to hand in my essay by Friday.

hand something out

to distribute to a group of people

We will hand out the invitations at the door.

hand something over

give (usually unwillingly)

The police asked the man to hand over his wallet and his weapons.

hang in

stay positive (N.Amer., informal)

Hang in there. I'm sure you'll find a job very soon.

hang on

wait a short time (informal)

Hang on while I grab my coat and shoes!

hang out

spend time relaxing (informal)

Instead of going to the party we are just going to hang out at my place.

hang up

end a phone call

He didn't say goodbye before he hung up.

hold someone/something back

prevent from doing/going

I had to hold my dog back because there was a cat in the park.

hold something back

hide an emotion

Jamie held back his tears at his grandfather's funeral.

hold on

wait a short time

Please hold on while I transfer you to the Sales Department.

hold onto someone/something

hold firmly using your hands or arms

Hold onto your hat because it's very windy outside.

hold someone/something up

rob

A man in a black mask held the bank up this morning.

keep on doingsomething

continue doing

Keep on stirring until the liquid comes to a boil.

keep something from someone

not tell

We kept our relationship from our parents for two years.

keep someone/something out

stop from entering

Try to keep the wet dog out of the living room.

keep something up

continue at the same rate

If you keep those results up you will get into a great college.

let someone down

fail to support or help, disappoint

I need you to be on time. Don't let me down this time.

let someone in

allow to enter

Can you let the cat in before you go to school?

look after someone/something

take care of

I have to look after my sick grandmother.

look down on someone

think less of, consider inferior

Ever since we stole that chocolate bar your dad has looked down on me.

look for someone/something

try to find

I'm looking for a red dress for the wedding.

look forward to something

be excited about the future

I'm looking forward to the Christmas break.

look into something

investigate

We are going to look into the price of snowboards today.

look out

be careful, vigilant, and take notice

Look out! That car's going to hit you!

look out for someone/something

be especially vigilant for

Don't forget to look out for snakes on the hiking trail.

look something over

check, examine

Can you look over my essay for spelling mistakes?

look something up

search and find information in a reference book or database

We can look her phone number up on the Internet.

look up to someone

have a lot of respect for

My little sister has always looked up to me.

make something up

invent, lie about something

Josie made up a story about about why we were late.

make up

forgive each other

We were angry last night, but we made up at breakfast.

make someone up

apply cosmetics to

My sisters made me up for my graduation party.

mix something up

confuse two or more things

I mixed up the twins' names again!

pass away

die

His uncle passed away last night after a long illness.

pass out

faint

It was so hot in the church that an elderly lady passed out.

pass something out

give the same thing to many people

The professor passed the textbooks out before class.

pass something up

decline (usually something good)

I passed up the job because I am afraid of change.

pay someone back

return owed money

Thanks for buying my ticket. I'll pay you back on Friday.

pay for something

be punished for doing something bad

That bully will pay for being mean to my little brother.

pick something out

choose

I picked out three sweaters for you to try on.

point someone/something out

indicate with your finger

I'll point my boyfriend out when he runs by.

put something down

put what you are holding on a surface or floor

You can put the groceries down on the kitchen counter.

put someone down

insult, make someone feel stupid

The students put the substitute teacher down because his pants were too short.

put somethingoff

postpone

We are putting off our trip until January because of the hurricane.

put something out

extinguish

The neighbours put the fire out before the firemen arrived.

put something together

assemble

I have to put the crib together before the baby arrives.

put up with someone/something

tolerate

I don't think I can put up with three small children in the car.

put something on

put clothing/accessories on your body

Don't forget to put on your new earrings for the party.

run into someone/something

meet unexpectedly

I ran into an old school-friend at the mall.

run over someone/something

drive a vehicle over a person or thing

I accidentally ran over your bicycle in the driveway.

run over/through something

rehearse, review

Let's run over/through these lines one more time before the show.

run away

leave unexpectedly, escape

The child ran away from home and has been missing for three days.

run out

have none left

We ran out of shampoo so I had to wash my hair with soap.

send something back

return (usually by mail)

My letter got sent back to me because I used the wrong stamp.

set something up

arrange, organize

Our boss set a meeting up with the president of the company.

setsomeone up

trick, trap

The police set up the car thief by using a hidden camera.

shop around

compare prices

I want to shop around a little before I decide on these boots.

show off

act extra special for people watching (usually boastfully)

He always shows off on his skateboard

sleep over

stay somewhere for the night (informal)

You should sleep over tonight if the weather is too bad to drive home.

sort something out

organize, resolve a problem

We need to sort the bills out before the first of the month.

stick to something

continue doing something, limit yourself to one particular thing

You will lose weight if you stick to the diet.

switch something off

stop the energy flow, turn off

The light's too bright. Could you switch it off.

switch something on

start the energy flow, turn on

We heard the news as soon as we switched on the car radio.

take after someone

resemble a family member

I take after my mother. We are both impatient.

take something apart

purposely break into pieces

He took the car brakes apart and found the problem.

take something back

return an item

I have to take our new TV back because it doesn't work.

take off

start to fly

My plane takes off in five minutes.

take something off

remove something (usually clothing)

Take off your socks and shoes and come in the lake!

take something out

remove from a place or thing

Can you take the garbage out to the street for me?

take someone out

pay for someone to go somewhere with you

My grandparents took us out for dinner and a movie.

tear something up

rip into pieces

I tore up my ex-boyfriend's letters and gave them back to him.

think back

remember (often + to, sometimes + on)

When I think back on my youth, I wish I had studied harder.

think something over

consider

I'll have to think this job offer over before I make my final decision.

throw something away

dispose of

We threw our old furniture away when we won the lottery.

turn something down

decrease the volume or strength (heat, light etc)

Please turn the TV down while the guests are here.

turn something down

refuse

I turned the job down because I don't want to move.

turn something off

stop the energy flow, switch off

Your mother wants you to turn the TV off and come for dinner.

turn something on

start the energy, switch on

It's too dark in here. Let's turn some lights on.

turn something up

increase the volume or strength (heat, light etc)

Can you turn the music up? This is my favourite song.

turn up

appear suddenly

Our cat turned up after we put posters up all over the neighbourhood.

try something on

sample clothing

I'm going to try these jeans on, but I don't think they will fit.

try something out

test

I am going to try this new brand of detergent out.

use something up

finish the supply

The kids used all of the toothpaste up so we need to buy some more.

wake up

stop sleeping

We have to wake up early for work on Monday.

warm someone/something up

increase the temperature

You can warm your feet up in front of the fireplace.

warm up

prepare body for exercise

I always warm up by doing sit-ups before I go for a run.

wear off

fade away

Most of my make-up wore off before I got to the party.

work out

exercise

I work out at the gym three times a week.

work out

be successful

Our plan worked out fine.

work something out

make a calculation

We have to work out the total cost before we buy the house.

 

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