Phrasal Verbs… here are just a few

What are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs are idiomatic phrases consisting of a verb and another element, usually either an adverb or a preposition, and they can often change the original meaning of the verb. For a full explanation of phrasal verbs please see Lessons B2.04 and B2.10.

English speakers use phrasal verbs a lot, and there are a few thousand of them (literally). Unfortunately, like vocabulary, they can only be learned from memory so it is best to start with just a few at a time.

If you’re anything like me, when you see a very long list, with hundreds of pages, you probably don’t even want to begin to read it, so on this post there are only eighteen phrasal verbs to start you off. If you learn one or two each day for the next couple of weeks, you will do well. There will be more phrasal verbs on future posts, so be sure to watch this space.

You may have already seen my post on the word UP which gives you several phrasal verbs using that particular preposition; so here I am going to give you a few more phrasal verbs that don’t use UP.

  1. ASK (Somebody) OUT   / ɑ:sk sʌm’bɔdi aʊt /
    • To invite on a date (usually romantic).
      e.g. Roy liked Christine, so he asked her out for a meal next week.
  2. BREAK DOWN   / breɪk daʊn /
    • To stop working (functioning) as with an automobile.
      e.g. His car broke down on the way to work.
    • The end of a relationship / negotiations.
      e.g. The marriage broke down after only two years.
    • To lose control of one’s emotions.
      e.g. She was so upset that she just broke down in public.
  3. CARRY ON   / ‘kærɪ ɔn /
    • To continue doing something, an activity or a task.
      e.g. You should carry on working until 9pm.
    • To make a fuss or a bad-tempered scene.
      e.g. He was carrying on like a spoilt child, screaming and shouting.
  4. COME ACROSS   / kʌm ə’krɔs /
    • To find something, or meet somebody, by chance.
      e.g. I came across your phone number when I was tidying my desk.
    • To make an impression on someone.
      e.g. She came across as being very honest.
  5. DO OVER   / dʊ ‘əʊvə /
    • Do something again.
      e.g. My work wasn’t good enough, so I had to do it over.
  6. EAT OUT   / ɪ:t aʊt /
    • To eat away from home, i.e. In a restaurant.
      e.g. I haven’t been to the supermarket today, so we will have to eat out.
  7. FIND OUT   / faɪnd aʊt /
    • To discover something.
      e.g. I found out that my son had been misbehaving at school.
  8. GET ALONG   / get ə’lɔŋ /
    • To like someone, to find them agreeable. To be friendly.
      e.g. I like my new assistant, we get along very well.
  9. HANG ON   / hæŋ’ɔn /
    • To wait a short time, a little while.
      e.g. Hang on a minute, I’ll be there soon.
    • To hold on to something or someone.
      e.g. Hang on tightly, you might fall off.
  10. KEEP FROM   / kɪ:p frɔm /
    • To hide something from somebody, or not tell them something.
      e.g. He kept the truth from me for years, but in the end I found out.
    • To avoid something happening.
      e.g. He had his hands in his pockets to keep them from getting cold.
  11. LOOK AFTER   / lʊk ‘ɑ:ftə /
    • To take care of, or attend to
      e.g. My sister looks after my little boy while I’m at work.
  12. LOOK FORWARD TO   / lʊk ‘fɒ:wəd tʊ /
    • To await something eagerly or with longing. To anticipate.
      e.g. I am really looking forward to my holiday in the sun.
  13. MAKE OUT   / meɪk ‘aʊt /
    • To be able to hear / understand.
      e.g. Can you speak up please, I can’t make out what you’re saying.
    • To make progress, to get on well with something.
      e.g. How are you making out with that new project you took on?
    • To succeed with someone romantically or sexually.
      e.g. They made out and fell in love on their first date.
  14. PASS AWAY   / pa:s ə’weɪ /
    • To die. (This comes from Pass meaning to cross over.)
      e.g. Her husband passed away peacefully during the night.
  15. RUN OVER   / rʌn ‘əʊvə /
    • To have a vehicle knock you down and drive over you.
      e.g. She was run over by a bus while she was crossing the road.
    • To rehearse or review something.
      e.g. Let’s run over the last two scenes before the show tonight.
    • When something is full (of liquid) and it overflows.
      e.g. Don’t pour any more wine into that glass, it will run over.
    • To exceed or spend too much on a project.
      e.g. The play has run over budget, we have no more money left.
  16. SHOW OFF   / ʃəʊ ‘ɔf /
      To make oneself look good to others, to act a part.
      e.g. She always shows off a bit when we have visitors.
  17. TAKE AFTER (Somebody)   / teɪk ‘ɑ:ftə sʌm’bɔdɪ /
    • To look like and behave like another family member.
      e.g. He takes after his father, always talking too much.
  18. WORK OUT   / wɜ:k ‘aʊt /
    • To exercise (often in a gymnasium).
      e.g. I work out 3 times a week with free weights.
    • To have a plan become successful.
      e.g. We had help so in the end it all worked out O.K.
    • To configure a problem in your mind.
      e.g. Quiet please, I need to work out the answer.


Related Content

Phrasal Verbs from Wikipedia.
Phrasal Verbs – Learn English, British Council

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