Most commonly used phrasal verbs

Most commonly used phrasal verbs


Most commonly used phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and a particle (preposition, adverb). The particle can change the meaning of the verb completely. For example::

  • look up – consult a reference book (look a word up in a dictionary)
  • look for – seek (look for her ring)
  • look forward – anticipate with pleasure (look forward to meeting someone)
Phrasal verb Meaning Example
Become of Happen to If she is sent to prison, what will become of her children?
blow up explode They tried to blow up the rail road station.
bring up mention a topic My mother brought up that little matter of my bad mark  again.
bring up raise children It isn’t easy to bring up children nowadays.
call off cancel They called off this afternoon’s meeting
do over repeat a job Do this homework over.
Deal with take action to do something I spent the morning dealing with my exercises.
fill out complete a form Fill out this application form and mail it in.
fill up fill to capacity She filled up the grocery cart with free food.
find out discover My sister found out that her husband had been planning a surprise party for her
give away give something to someone else for free The filling station was giving away free gas.
give back return an object My brother borrowed my car. I have a feeling he’s not about to give it back.
Give up cease making an effort The boxer gave up the fight in the middle of round 3
Give up (2) stop doing something Tom gave up smoking last year
Have over Come to visit or stay with We’re having the Simpsons over for supper on Tuesday evening.
hand in submit something (assignment) The students handed in their papers and left the room.
hang up put something on hook or receiver She hung up the phone before she hung up her clothes.
hold up delay I hate to hold up the meeting, but I have to go to the bathroom.
hold up (2) rob Three masked gunmen held up the Security Bank this afternoon.
Kick out to force someone to leave a place or organization Sonia’s been kicked out of her house.
Look for search for someone or something I’m looking for Jim. Have you seen him?
leave out omit You left out the part about the police chase down Asylum Avenue.
look over examine, check The lawyers looked over the papers carefully before questioning the witness. (They looked them over carefully.)
look up search in a list You’ve misspelled this word again. You’d better look it up.
make up invent a story or lie She knew she was in trouble, so she made up a story about going to the movies with her friends.
make out hear, understand He was so far away, we really couldn’t make out what he was saying.
Make out (2) to write all the necessary information on a document She made out a cheque and handed it to me.
pick out choose There were three men in the line-up. She picked out the guy she thought had stolen her purse.
pick up lift something off something else The crane picked up the entire house. (Watch them pick it up.)
point out call attention to As we drove through Paris, Francoise pointed out the major historical sites.
put away save or store We put away money for our retirement / She put away the cereal boxes.
put off postpone / delay  We asked the boss to put off the meeting until tomorrow. (Please put it off for another day.)
put on put clothing on the body I put on a sweater and a jacket. (I put them on quickly.)
put out extinguish The firefighters put out the house fire before it could spread. (They put it out quickly.)
Read out Speak loudly He reads the list of names out.
read over peruse I read over the homework, but couldn’t make any sense of it.
Sit up to go to bed later than usual We sat up very late yesterday talking
set up to arrange, begin My wife set up the living room exactly the way she wanted it.
take down make a written note These are your instructions. Write them down before you forget.
take off remove clothing It was so hot that I had to take off my shirt.
Take off (2) copy someone for fun Beth can take off Mr Bean brilliantly.
Take up to start doing something as a habit or job Chris has taken up jogging.
talk over discuss We have serious problems here. Let’s talk them over like adults.
throw away discard That’s a lot of money! Don’t just throw it away.

try on

to put on a piece of clothing to see how it looks

What a lovely dress! Why don’t you try it on?

try out test I tried out four cars before I could find one that pleased me.
turn down lower volume Your radio is driving me crazy! Please turn it down.
turn down (2) reject He applied for a promotion twice this year, but he was turned down both times.
turn up raise the volume Grandpa couldn’t hear, so he turned up his hearing aid.
turn off switch off electricity We turned off the lights so that the baby could sleep.
turn off (2) repulse It was a disgusting movie. It really turned me off.
turn on switch on the electricity Turn on the that TV set please .
use up exhaust, use completely The gang members used up all the money and went out to rob some more banks.


Inseparable Phrasal Verbs (Transitive)

With the following phrasal verbs, the lexical part of the verb (the part of the phrasal verb that carries the “‎verb-meaning”) cannot be separated from the prepositions (or other parts) that accompany it: “Who will look after my estate when I’m gone?”‎
Phrasal verb Meaning Example
call on ask to recite in class The teacher called on students in the back row.
call on (2) visit The old minister continued to call on his sick parishioners.
get over recover from sickness or disappointment I got over the flu, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my broken heart.
go over review The students went over the material before the exam. They should have gone over it twice.
go through use up; consume They country went through most of its coal reserves in one year. Did it go through all his money already?
look after take care of My mother promised to look after my cat while I was gone.
look into investigate The police will look into the possibilities of embezzlement.
run across find by chance I ran across my old roommate at the college reunion.
run into meet Carlos ran into his English professor in the hallway.
take after resemble My second son seems to take after his mother.
wait on serve It seemed strange to see my old boss wait on tables.


Three-Word Phrasal Verbs (Transitive)

With the following phrasal verbs, you will find three parts: “My brother dropped out of school before he could graduate.”
Phrasal verb Meaning Example
break in on interrupt (a conversation) I was talking to Mom on the phone when the operator broke in on our call.
catch up with keep abreast After our month-long trip, it was time to catch up with the neighbours and the news around town.
check up on examine, investigate

The boys promised to check up on the condition of the summer

come up with to contribute (suggestion, money) The old lady came up with a thousand-dollar donation
cut down on curtail (expenses) We tried to cut down on the money we were spending on Entertainment.
drop out of leave school I hope none of my students drop out of school this semester.
get along with have a good relationship with I found it very hard to get along with my brother when we were young.
get away with escape blame Janis cheated on the exam and then tried to get away with it.
get rid of eliminate The citizens tried to get rid of their corrupt mayor in the recent election
get through with finish When will you ever get through with that program?
keep up with maintain pace with It’s hard to keep up with the Joneses when you lose your job!
look forward to anticipate with pleasure I always look forward to the beginning of a new semester.
look down on despise They looked down on him because of his shabby clothes
look in on visit (somebody) We were going to look in on my brother-in-law, but he wasn’t home.
look out for be careful, anticipate Good instructors will look out for early signs of failure in their students
look up to respect First-graders really look up to their teachers.
make sure of verify Make sure of the student’s identity before you let him into the classroom.
put up with tolerate The teacher had to put up with a great deal of nonsense from the new students.
run out of exhaust / supply The runners ran out of energy before the end of the race.
take care of be responsible for My sister used to take care of me when mu mother was out.
talk back to answer impolitely The star player talked back to the coach and was thrown off the team.
think back on recall I often think back on my childhood with great pleasure.
walk out on abandon Her husband walked out on her and their three children.


Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

The following phrasal verbs are not followed by an object: “Once you leave home, you can never really go back again.”
Phrasal verb Meaning Example
break down stop functioning That old Jeep had a tendency to break down just when I needed it the most.
catch on become popular Popular songs seem to catch on in California first and then spread Eastward.
come back return to a place Father promised that we would never come back to this horrible place.
come in enter They tried to come in through the back door, but it was locked.
come to regain consciousness He was hit on the head very hard, but after several minutes, he started to come to again.
come over to visit The children promised to come over, but they never do.
drop by visit without appointment We used to just drop by, but they were never home, so we stopped doing that.
eat out dine in a restaurant When we visited Paris, we loved eating out in the side walk cafes.
get by survive Uncle Heine didn’t have much money, but he always seemed to get by without borrowing money from relatives
get up arise Grandmother tried to get up,but the couch was too low, and she couldn’t make it on her own.
go back return to a place It’s hard to imagine that we will never go back to visit this place.
go on continue He would finish one Dickens novel and then just go on to the next.
go on (2) happen The cops heard all the noise and stopped to see what was going on.
grow up get older Charles grew up to be a lot like his father.
keep away remain at a distance The judge warned the stalker to keep away from his victim’s home.
keep on continue with the same He tried to keep on singing long after his voice was ruined.
pass out lose consciousness, faint he passed out for 15 minutes after his car hit the tree.
show off demonstrate haughtily or arrogantly
after he bought that car , he was always showing off.
show up arrive Day after day, The student showed up for class twenty minutes late.
wake up arouse from sleep I woke up when the rooster crowed.





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