30 Common English Phrasal Verbs

In this post, we’ll be looking at all things phrasal verbs.

We’ll be looking at what phrasal verbs are and how to use them.

Plus, we’ll also be looking at 30 common phrasal verbs with meanings and example sentences

What are phrasal verbs?

Phrasal verbs are like these cool little word combos in English. They’re made up of a verb and one or more particles, like adverbs or prepositions.

Basically, they’re just verbs that get a little extra oomph by adding on these extra bits. For example, think about “turn off.”

You’ve got the verb “turn” and the particle “off” coming together to mean “switch something off.”

They’re super common in everyday English, so you’ll hear and use them a lot once you get the hang of them!

Why do we need to use phrasal verbs?

Phrasal verbs are like the seasoning that adds flavor to your English. They make your language sound more natural and relaxed.

Plus, they’re everywhere in everyday conversation, so using them helps you blend in and sound like a native speaker.

Instead of just using plain verbs, phrasal verbs give your words a bit of spice and make your speech more colorful and interesting.

So, why not sprinkle some phrasal verbs into your chats and see how they jazz up your language game?

How to practice phrasal verbs.

Practicing phrasal verbs is easy-peasy! Here are some fun ways to get the hang of them:

  • Read and Listen: Pay attention to phrasal verbs when you read books, watch movies, or listen to conversations. Notice how they’re used in different contexts.

 

  • Make Flashcards: Write down phrasal verbs on one side of a flashcard and their meanings on the other side. Quiz yourself regularly to reinforce your memory.

 

  • Use Them in Sentences: Practice using phrasal verbs in your own sentences. Start with simple ones and gradually incorporate more complex ones as you become more confident.

 

  • Play Word Games: Play games like charades or Pictionary where you have to act out or draw phrasal verbs. It’s a fun way to remember them!

 

 

  • Talk to Native Speakers: Chat with native English speakers and pay attention to how they use phrasal verbs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure about something.

Here’s a list of 30 common phrasal verbs and meanings. We’ll be looking at their uses later.

  1. Call off: Cancel something that was planned.
  2. Come across: Find something unexpectedly.
  3. Get along: Have a good relationship with someone.
  4. Look after: Take care of someone or something.
  5. Turn down: Reject an offer or invitation.
  6. Bring up: Raise a topic or start a conversation about something.
  7. Give up: Stop doing something, especially something challenging.
  8. Turn on: Activate or start a device or machine.
  9. Put off: Postpone or delay something.
  10. Take off: Remove something (like clothes) or become successful quickly.
  11. Get over: Recover from an illness or a setback.
  12. Run into: Meet someone unexpectedly.
  13. Bring back: Return something to its original place or revive a memory.
  14. Break down: Stop functioning or have an emotional collapse.
  15. Come up with: Think of or produce an idea or solution.
  16. Set up: Arrange or organize something.
  17. Pick up: Lift something off the ground or acquire new skills or knowledge.
  18. Go over: Review or examine something carefully.
  19. Look for: Search for something or someone.
  20. Turn off: Switch something off or cause someone to lose interest.
  21. Give in: Surrender or yield to something or someone.
  22. Bring forward: Move an event or meeting to an earlier time.
  23. Hold on: Wait for a short time or grasp something tightly.
  24. Run out of: Exhaust the supply of something.
  25. Get on: Board a vehicle or continue with something.
  26. Take on: Accept responsibility or a task.
  27. Make up: Invent a story or reconcile with someone after an argument.
  28. Fill out: Complete a form or document.
  29. Look out: Be careful or watchful.
  30. Break up: End a relationship or disperse a group.

Let’s break down each of these phrasal verbs with examples and situations:

Call off: You use “call off” when you want to cancel something that was planned.

For example, if you were going to have a picnic in the park but it starts raining heavily, you might say, “Let’s call off the picnic and reschedule for next weekend.”

Come across: When you “come across” something, it means you find it unexpectedly.

For instance, imagine you’re cleaning out your closet and you come across an old photo album you forgot you had. You might say, “I came across this old album while I was tidying up.”

Get along: If you “get along” with someone, it means you have a good relationship with them.

For example, if you and your roommate never argue and always have fun together, you can say, “I get along really well with my roommate.”

Look after: When you “look after” someone or something, it means you take care of them.

Let’s say your friend has a pet cat and they’re going out of town for the weekend. They might ask you, “Can you look after my cat while I’m away?”

Turn down: You use “turn down” when you want to reject an offer or invitation.

For instance, if a friend invites you to a party but you’re too tired to go, you can say, “Thanks for inviting me, but I’ll have to turn down the invitation tonight.”

Bring up: You use “bring up” when you want to raise a topic or start a conversation about something.

For example, imagine you’re in a meeting and you want to talk about a new idea. You might say, “I’d like to bring up the possibility of implementing a new strategy.”

Give up: When you “give up,” it means you stop doing something, especially if it’s challenging or difficult.

For instance, let’s say you’ve been trying to learn how to play the guitar for months, but you’re struggling to make progress. You might say, “I think I’m going to give up on learning the guitar and try something else instead.”

Turn on: You use “turn on” when you want to activate or start a device or machine.

For example, if you walk into a dark room and want to switch on the light, you would say, “I’m going to turn on the light so we can see better.”

Put off: When you “put off” something, it means you postpone or delay it.

Let’s say you have a project due next week, but you’re feeling overwhelmed. You might decide to delay working on it and say, “I’m going to put off working on the project until tomorrow.”

Take off: You use “take off” when something is removed (like clothes) or when something becomes successful quickly.

For instance, imagine you’re at the airport and your flight is about to depart. The flight attendant might announce, “Please fasten your seatbelts as we’re about to take off,” meaning the plane is about to leave the ground.

Get over: You use “get over” when you want to recover from an illness or a setback.

For example, if you catch a bad cold and feel really sick for a few days, but then start feeling better, you might say, “I finally got over that nasty cold!”

Run into: When you “run into” someone unexpectedly, it means you meet them by chance.

Let’s say you’re grocery shopping and you bump into your old high school friend you haven’t seen in years. You might say, “I ran into Sarah at the grocery store today!”

Bring back: You use “bring back” when you want to return something to its original place or revive a memory.

For instance, if you borrow a book from your friend and you’re done reading it, you might say, “I’ll bring back the book to you tomorrow.”

Or, if you smell a certain perfume that reminds you of your grandmother, you might say, “That scent really brings back memories of my grandma.”

Break down: When something “breaks down,” it means it stops functioning properly.

For example, if your car suddenly stops in the middle of the road and won’t start again, you would say, “My car broke down on the way to work this morning.”

Also, “break down” can mean having an emotional collapse. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress and start crying uncontrollably, you might say, “I’m sorry, I just broke down under all the pressure.”

Come up with: You use “come up with” when you think of or produce an idea or solution.

Let’s say you’re brainstorming ideas for a school project with your classmates, and suddenly you have a great idea. You might say, “I just came up with a brilliant idea for our project!”

Set up: You use “set up” when you want to arrange or organize something.

For instance, imagine you’re planning a surprise birthday party for your best friend. You might say, “I need to set up decorations, order the cake, and invite guests for the party.”

Pick up: When you “pick up” something, it can mean lifting something off the ground or acquiring new skills or knowledge.

For example, if you drop your pen on the floor, you would bend down to pick it up. Similarly, if you decide to learn a new language, you might say, “I want to pick up Spanish before my trip to Spain.”

Go over: You use “go over” when you want to review or examine something carefully.

Let’s say you have an important presentation at work. Before the meeting, you might want to go over your slides to make sure everything looks good and there are no mistakes.

Look for: When you “look for” something or someone, it means you’re searching for them.

For instance, if you misplaced your keys, you would say, “I’m looking for my keys everywhere, but I can’t find them!”

Or if you’re at a crowded train station trying to find your friend, you might say, “I’m looking for Sarah, have you seen her?”

Turn off: You use “turn off” when you want to switch something off or cause someone to lose interest.

For example, before going to bed, you would turn off the lights in your room.

Or if you’re watching a movie with a friend and they don’t like it, they might say, “This movie really turns me off, let’s watch something else.”

Give in: You use “give in” when you surrender or yield to something or someone.

For example, if you’re arguing with your sibling about what to watch on TV and you finally agree to watch their choice, you might say, “Fine, I give in. Let’s watch your show.”

Bring forward: When you “bring forward” something, it means you move an event or meeting to an earlier time.

Let’s say you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for next week, but something urgent comes up and you need to see the doctor sooner.

You would call the clinic and ask if they can bring forward your appointment to this week.

Hold on: You use “hold on” when you want to wait for a short time or grasp something tightly.

For instance, if you’re on the phone with a friend and they need to answer the door, they might say, “Hold on a second, I’ll be right back.”

Or if you’re on a roller coaster and the ride starts moving, you would hold on tightly to the safety bar.

Run out of: When you “run out of” something, it means you exhaust the supply of it.

For example, if you’re baking cookies and you realize you’re out of sugar, you would say, “Oops, I’ve run out of sugar. I need to go to the store to buy more.”

Get on: You use “get on” when you board a vehicle or continue with something.

Let’s say you’re at the bus stop and the bus arrives. You would say, “It’s time to get on the bus.”

Or if you’re having a disagreement with a friend but you want to move past it and continue your friendship, you might say, “Let’s get on with our day and not dwell on this argument.”

Get on: You use “get on” when you want to board a vehicle or continue with something.

For instance, if you’re at the train station and the train arrives, you would say, “It’s time to get on the train.”

Similarly, if you’re discussing a project with your team and you want to continue with the discussion, you might say, “Let’s get on with our meeting.”

Take on: When you “take on” something, it means you accept responsibility or a task.

For example, if your boss asks if you can handle an extra project at work, you might say, “Sure, I’m willing to take on the additional workload.”

Make up: You use “make up” when you want to invent a story or reconcile with someone after an argument.

Let’s say you forgot to do your homework and you need an excuse. You might say, “I’ll have to make up a story about why I didn’t finish my assignment.”

Or if you had a disagreement with your friend but you want to patch things up, you might say, “I’m sorry for what happened. Let’s make up and move past this.”

Fill out: When you “fill out” something, it means you complete a form or document.

For example, if you’re applying for a job and there’s an application form to complete, you would say, “I need to fill out this application form with my personal details and work experience.”

Look out: You use “look out” when you want to advise someone to be careful or watchful.

Let’s say you’re walking with a friend and they’re about to step into a puddle, you might say, “Look out! There’s a puddle ahead.”

Or if you’re hiking in the woods and you spot a snake, you might warn your friend by saying, “Look out! There’s a snake on the trail.”

Break up: When you “break up” with someone, it means you end a romantic relationship, or if you “break up” a group, it means you disperse it.

For example, if you and your partner decide to end your relationship, you would say, “We’ve decided to break up.”

Similarly, if a large group of people is standing together and you need them to scatter, you might say, “Break up, everyone! Let’s give each other some space.”

These examples show how these phrasal verbs are used in everyday situations, making communication clear and straightforward! 

So, use them as much as you can to master phrasal verbs.

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