Phrasal Verbs

To get out

Meaning: to become known, to become public knowledge Examples: I don't want it to get out that I am leaving. Please don't tell anyone. If this bad news gets out, people will panic and try to run away.

To set up

Meaning: to construct or build something Examples: The people set up camp by the lake. The child was building something with her blocks, so I asked her what she was setting up.

To run on

Meaning: to continue without interruption Examples: The discussion ran on for hours. Don't start that book, it runs on for hundreds of pages and never says anything.

To run around

Meaning: to be very busy doing something Examples: My new boss asks me to do a million different things. She makes me run around all the time. I am tired, I have been running around all day, fixing the house, doing the shopping, etc.

To put something across

Meaning: to explain something Examples: This is a complicated subject, I don't know how to put it across to you. If someone does not understand that other subject, it is hard to put this across to them.

To run away from something

Meaning: to escape from something Examples: The prisoners ran away from the prison during the fire. I don't like my job. I don't like this city. I want to run away from everything.

To let someone in on something

Meaning: to allow someone to know something Examples: I let him in on the big changes happening in our office. I never know what he is doing, he never lets me in on his life.

To cut something up

Meaning: to cut into pieces Examples: My mother cut the onions up before cooking the meat. This big project will be easier if you cut it up into smaller pieces.

To cut across something

Meaning: to cross something in order to make a shorter route Examples: If I cut across the field, it’ll save time. If I cut across the school, I can get to work earlier.

To cut into something

Meaning: to make something shorter or smaller Examples: The knife is very sharp, it will easily cut into the cake. I like my family time very much, I don't want my new job to cut into it.

To look back

Meaning: to think about the past Examples: It is important to look ahead at the future, and to not spend too much time looking back. When I look back at my childhood, I realize it was a very good childhood.

To cut back on something

Meaning: to reduce something Examples: My doctor told me to cut back on salt. Money is tight these days, we need to cut back on expenses.

To take down

Meaning: to remove something from a high position Examples: He took the vase down from the high shelf. I don't like that man, I think he got his position by stealing it. I am going to take him down.

To take something over

Meaning: to take control of something Examples: He loves to control everything. If we invite him to the party, he will try to take everything over. A new boss took the company over last week.

To look in on someone

Meaning: to give a short visit, often just to make sure someone is okay Examples: My father is very old. Can you look in on him a few times each week, just to make sure he is okay? When I was in the hospital, my best friend came to look in on me every day.

To look around somewhere

Meaning: to visit a place and look at the things in it Examples: When I visit a new city, I like to just look around the place. When I go to a store, sometimes I just want to look around at things.

To look ahead

Meaning: to think about the future Examples: The past if finished. We must look ahead. I know this won't happen for another year or two, but I just want to look ahead.

To read up on something

Meaning: to read a lot about something in order to learn about it Examples: I wanted to learn more about the war, so I read up on it. Before we met, I read up on you.

To read something back

Meaning: to read something again, especially to someone else Examples: That last sentence was really important, can you read that back to everyone in the room? Could you read that back to me? I want to hear your pronunciation.

To make something into something else

Meaning: to change something into something else Examples: I don't like my new boyfriend. He keeps trying to make me into someone I am not. If you add blue paint, you can make red paint into purple paint.

To keep something away from someone

Meaning: to not tell someone something, to not let someone near something Examples: He doesn't like bad news, so I try to keep bad news away from him. It is important to keep medicine away from children.

To keep off

Meaning: to not touch something, or to not discuss something Examples: He talks a lot, but he keeps off the subject of his divorce. I ask the children to keep off the grass.

To keep someone in

Meaning: to not allow someone to go outside Examples: Because they were noisy during class, the teacher kept the children in after class. The dog is barking a lot today, I am keeping him in because it is raining.

To hang around

Meaning: to move slowly, to do something slowly Examples: Don't hang around, you have a train to catch! I am doing nothing today, just relaxing and hanging around the house.

To get away

Meaning: To take a vacation Examples: I have been working too hard, I really need to get away to a tropical island. Sometimes I just want to get away from this big city.

To set off

Meaning: to start a journey Examples: They set off for London at 5pm. I want to set off for a distant location.

To carry on with something

Meaning: to continue with something Examples: When I am gone, I want you to carry on with this project. Even though he asked me to stop singing, I decided to carry on like I was before.

To check off

Meaning: to mark with a tick mark, to mark something as done Examples: I like my "to do" list to be clear. Please wait while I check off these last two things. Here is a list, let's check off the names of the people we don't want at the party.

To clear up

Meaning: to solve, to explain, or to remove a problem Examples: This project is confusing, I hope he can clear it up. It rained a lot today, maybe it will clear up tomorrow.

To clear out of somewhere

Meaning: to leave from somewhere Examples: We need to clear out of here before that bad man comes back. I haven't paid the rent in many months. The landlord asked me to clear out of the house.

To clear away

Meaning: to open a space, to put things away Examples: You should clear away all your toys before bedtime. I need to clear away the trees before I can farm this land.

To catch on

Meaning: to become popular Examples: This game will catch on among young people. In the past, that song was not popular, but now it is catching on.

To catch somebody up on something

Meaning: to give somebody the latest news or information about something Examples: Can someone catch us up on the latest news? He doesn't know about the new products. I will catch him up on them.

To make up for something

Meaning: to recover, to make something better, to fix a problem you created Examples: Nothing can make up for a lost child. I came to work late yesterday, so I have to work this weekend to make up for it.

To take in

Meaning: to allow somebody to stay in your home Examples: My house has an extra bed, so I can take in one more person. Our friend was homeless after the fire, so we took his family in.

To make up

Meaning: to make peace after a fight Examples: I had a big fight with my dad, but we made up and have a good relationship now. Let's not fight, please come home and let's make up.

To hang on

Meaning: to wait for a short time Examples: She told me to hang on, she would arrive in 10 minutes. I am in the middle of an important task, you need to hang on for a few minutes, and then we can talk.

To stop over

Meaning: to stay at one place for a short time on the way to another place Examples: They stopped over in Singapore on their way to Australia. We stopped over at the grocery store on our way to my parents' house.

To touch down

Meaning: to land (an airplane) Examples: The plane touched down at 6:38pm. This flight is really long, when do we touch down in Hong Kong?

To carry out

Meaning: to perform a task Examples: He carried out the work like we planned. I carried out my promise to her.

To carry over

Meaning: to continue past the planned ending time Examples: The meeting carried over past lunch. The game went long, it carried over until evening.

To knock back

Meaning: to quickly drink something Examples: At the bar after work, we knocked back 6 vodkas. After exercise, I like to knock back a tall glass of cold water.

To catch up with somebody

Meaning: to talk to someone whom one has not seen for a long time Examples: It's always good to catch up with old friends. I haven't seen you in years. We should meet for coffee and catch up.

To knock off

Meaning: to stop working for the rest of the day Examples: It's nice and sunny today, we should knock off early and go get some ice cream. What time do you knock off today? I want to take you to a movie this evening.

To turn something on

Meaning: to start the operation or flow of something Examples: She turned her PC on and opened her browser. It was dark in the room, so I asked her to turn on the light.

To put up with something or somebody

Meaning: to tolerate, endure, or bear something or somebody Examples: I’m leaving, I don't want to put up with you anymore. We put up with the high prices because we like living here.

To give up

Meaning: to stop making an effort; to admit defeat Examples: It’s not like you to give up so easily on an assignment so early. We knew we couldn't beat the other team, so we gave up in the second half of the game.

To log in

Meaning: to enter a database, system, or software Examples: I tried to log in with my username, but I couldn’t remember my password. Before you can use Facebook, you have to log in.

To work something out

Meaning: to find, or try to find, the answer to something; to resolve a dispute Examples: She worked out the math problem quickly; I was still trying to solve it. We had a big fight, but we worked it out and are friends again.

To give in to someone or something

Meaning: to accept someone’s wish or stop fighting; to admit defeat. Examples: He gave in to the group's pressure and decided to accept the decision. My mother told me to not give in to peer pressure.

To print something out

Meaning: to make a paper copy of information stored on a computer Examples: My boss asked me to print out the report and give it to him. I need to print this document out before I mail it.

To pay something or somebody back

Meaning: to repay some money or a loan or a favor to someone Examples: If you lend me the money, I’ll pay you back by Friday. He did me a big favor last week, now I need to pay him back.

To plug something in

Meaning: to connect an electrical appliance by inserting a plug in a socket. Examples: I need to plug in my phone; it’s completely out of juice. I thought the lamp was not working, but I just needed to plug it in.

To rip something up

Meaning: to tear something into small pieces so as to destroy it Examples: She ripped up her pile of old letters and put them in the bin. I hate this contract, it is a bad deal, I want to rip it up.

To tear something out

Meaning: to remove something violently or suddenly Examples: He tore out the pages that he didn’t want anyone to read. We are going to redo the whole bathroom, but first we need to tear the old one out.

To come down with something

Meaning: to begin to suffer from an illness Examples: Oh, god! I think I’m coming down with flu. I might not go to work tomorrow. Be careful around him, he has a cold. You don't want to come down with it.

To fall out with somebody

Meaning: to have an argument and stop being friends Examples: They were flatmates for two years, but then they fell out and never spoke to each other again. My best friend and I fell out over this issue, I don't know if we'll ever speak again.

To look for something or somebody

Meaning: to try to find something or somebody Examples: Jack was looking for his phone everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I looked for my father everywhere. I finally found him outside in the garden.

To heat something up

Meaning: to make or become hot or warm Examples: I think we can heat up yesterday’s pizza and have it for dinner, right? The coffee should be fine once it heats back up.

To warm something up

Meaning: to reheat something Examples: My coffee is cold now, I need to warm it up. I am cold from playing in the snow, now I want to sit by the fire and warm myself up.

To wash up

Meaning: to wash your hands before eating or after doing dirty work Examples: My mom tells me to wash up before every meal. I just finished working on my car, I need to wash up before going in the house.

To break down

Meaning: to stop working, to stop functioning. Examples: My TV seems to be breaking down a lot, I think something is wrong with it. It's an old car, it probably breaks down all the time.

To hang something out

Meaning: to hang from a clothes line Examples: I don’t mind ironing, but I hate hanging the clothes out to dry. After you wash the laundry, you should hang the clothes out.

To break something down

Meaning: to take a complex thing apart into smaller pieces Examples: If you have a complex problem, try breaking it down and solving the smaller pieces. I like the way she analyzes that song, breaking it down into single parts.

To break up with somebody

Meaning: to end a romantic relationship with somebody Examples: After they broke up, he listened to sad music and didn’t leave his house. You annoy me and you smell bad. I am breaking up with you.

To go for something

Meaning: to choose something and then pursue it Examples: I usually eat the steak, but today I am going to go for the fish. He asked me if he should apply for the top universities, and I told him yes, go for it.

To chill out

Meaning: to calm down and relax Examples: At the end of the day, I just want to put my feet up and chill out before going to bed. Chill out, man, it's not a big deal!

To talk back to somebody

Meaning: to reply defiantly or disrespectfully Examples: My child talks back to me when I give him an order. That teacher lets his students talk back to him, I don't think that is right.

To look after somebody or something

Meaning: to take care of somebody or something Examples: My parents will look after my dog when I'm on vacation. My friend is alone here. Can you look after him when I am away?

To put something back

Meaning: to replace something Examples: Please put the book back on the shelf after you read it. I'm just going to borrow this shirt today, I will put it back tomorrow.

To run out of something

Meaning: to finish one’s supply of something Examples: We ran out of eggs, can you go to the store and buy some more? If we continue using paper towels like this, we will run out tomorrow.

To doze off

Meaning: to fall lightly asleep Examples: I don’t take a real nap after lunch, I simply doze off for a bit in front of the TV. The meeting was really long and boring, so I dozed off for a while.

To hang up on somebody

Meaning: to end a telephone call, especially abruptly or quickly Examples: When I told her the bad news, she hung up on me. I got angry during the call, so I hung up on him.

To speak up

Meaning: to talk more loudly, or to express an opinion when you are usually quiet Examples: Could you speak up, please? The music is really loud, and I can’t hear you clearly. He usually sits in the corner silently, but today he spoke up, so we know what he...

To pick up

Meaning: to answer a telephone call Examples: I kept calling her but she wouldn’t pick up, so I couldn’t tell her the news. When I call my mother, she always picks up on the first ring.

To drink up

Meaning: to quickly consume the rest of a drink Examples: She drank up what was left of her beer and left in a hurry. He told me to drink up because there wouldn't be more water, we are going to the desert today.

To kick someone out

Meaning: to expel or remove someone Examples: They kicked me out of the club after the fight. I was really messy and got kicked out of the hotel, they won't let me back.

To move over

Meaning: to adjust one’s position to make room for someone else Examples: Could you guys move over so I can sit down too? He asked me to move the couch over so he could insert another chair, but I don't want the chair there.

To come in

Meaning: to enter a room, building, or other place Examples: Please, come in and sit down. I wanted to come in the living room, but she was busy cleaning and wouldn't let me in.

To let someone in

Meaning: to admit someone to, or to allow someone into, a room, building, or area Examples: We let our dog in the house every morning, he prefers to eat breakfast in the kitchen. My boss is angry at me. I tried to go into his office, but he won't let me in.

To work out

Meaning: to engage in heavy physical exercise Examples: I try to work out three or four times a week at the gym, it's good for my health. I like to run in the forest. My brother calls it "working out," but I just call it "having fun."

To warm up

Meaning: to prepare for exercise by moving or practising gently Examples: I always warm up thoroughly before going out for a jog. Before you lift heavy weights, be sure to warm up so your body is ready.

To take off

Meaning: to remove clothing or items in general from one’s or another’s body, or from an object Examples: I took off my shoes and lay down on the sofa. I would like to use the new cooking pan, but first I need to take off the price tag.

To switch on

Meaning: to start a device, to start the operation of something by means of a tap, switch, or button. Examples: Please switch on the light, I can't see. When I try to switch on my phone, nothing happens. I think it's broken.

To tidy up

Meaning: to bring order to, to arrange neatly, especially in a quick action before a meeting or before a guest arrives Examples: The kids don’t like tidying up their room, but they always do it when I ask them to. The guests arrive in a few minutes, I need to tidy up...

To dress up

Meaning: to put on smart, nice, good-looking, or formal clothes Examples: I only dress up on special occasions, like weddings or other celebrations. The interview was very important, so I dressed up in my best clothes.

To put something on

Meaning: to place a piece of clothing (like a shirt), jewelery, etc. on part of one’s body Examples: I put on my watch when I got dressed this morning. When I got out of the shower, I put my clothes on.

To get (somebody) up

Meaning: To rise, or cause someone to rise, from bed after sleeping Examples: I get up immediately after waking up each morning. We got him up early, because he had to go to the airport.

To wake (somebody) up

Meaning: to stop sleeping, or to cause someone to stop sleeping Examples: I woke up at 7 o’clock yesterday. The loud party woke me up during the night.

To go off

Meaning: to begin to sound (usually said about an alarm) Examples: My alarm clock goes off at 6am, and then I begin my workout. During the fire, the alarm went off. It was really loud.

To look forward to something

Meaning: to happily expect something that is happening in the future Examples: He had worked hard and was looking forward to his retirement. We look forward to your visit next week.

To keep from

Meaning: to not do something, or to not tell someone something Examples: I couldn’t keep from eating all the food at the party. I think he's not telling me the whole story, I think he's keeping something from me.

To hold up

Meaning: to delay something or to rob something Examples: I’m sorry, I am late but I was held up in a meeting. The bank was held up by the two criminals.

To run into

Meaning: to experience something or meet somebody unexpectedly Examples: I’ve run into a problem with the project. I ran into him on the street yesterday.

To look on

Meaning: to watch something happen without taking part in it Examples: Look on the bright side – no one was badly hurt. You go speak to the group. I will just stand in the corner and look on.

To get back to something

Meaning: to respond to something or to resume doing something Examples: I will get back to you tomorrow. (I will respond to you tomorrow.) That was a good meeting, but now I need to get back to work.

To get up

Meaning: to wake up and get out of bed, or to stand up (like from a chair) Examples: Matt gets up at 5am. (Matt wakes up and gets out bed at 5am) I need to get up from this chair. (I need to stand up)

To look over

To examine or inspect something or someone. Examples: Can you look over this email and tell me what you think? He looked over my application and said it looked fine.

To let up

Phrasal verb: to let up Definition: To become less strong or less intense. Examples: When the rain lets up, let's go outside for a walk. A good coach never lets up on pushing her athletes to excellence.

To run against somebody or something

Meaning: to oppose somebody or something, usually, but not always, in an election Examples: Luck was really running against you yesterday! Biden ran against Trump in the 2020 US election.