Phrasal Verbs

Many of my clients are not native English speakers.

One thing that many of them would like to do, in addition to getting their engineering projects approved, is sound more like a native speaker. And if you want to do that, becoming comfortable with phrasal verbs is an absolute necessity.

Not just hearing them and knowing what they mean. Using them.

In that spirit, I offer this list of the 100 top phrasal verbs in the English language.

Please pardon the old videos, I shot them at an earlier time when I had more hair. 😉

(Fun fact: Did you know that most English speakers are not native speakers?)

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 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 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.