This is a compilation of the most useful everyday phrasal-verbs you need to study.

Adapted from M. Vince's ADVANCED LANGUAGE PRACTICE

HEINEMANN

  Use this page to learn and practice the most useful phrasal verbs

B C D G H M P R S T

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PHRASAL VERB

MEANING

EXAMPLES

 
Add up Make sense Her evidence just doesn’t add up. A
Ask after Inquire about Jim was asking after you  
Back down Yield in an argument Sheila was right, so Paul had to back down. B
Bargain for Take into account We hadn’t bargained for there being so much traffic, and we missed the plane.  
Bear out Confirm the truth Helen’s alibi was borne out by her sister.  
Break down Lose control of the emotions David broke down and wept when he heard the news.  
Break off Stop talking He broke off to answer the phone  
Break up Come to an end The party finally broke up at 3.00am.  
Bring about Cause to happen The crisis was brought about by Brenda’s resignation  
Bring off Succeed in doing something The team tried for years to win the competition and they finally brought it off.  
Bring on Cause the onset of an illness Sitting in the damp brought on his rheumatism.  
Bring on/upon Cause trouble to happen to oneself You have brought this on/upon yourself!  
Bring around Influence someone to your point of view After much discussion, I brought the committee round to my point of view.  
Bring up Mention I feel I ought to bring up another small matter.  
Call up Mobilise for military service Mark was called up when the war broke up. C
Carry off Complete successfully – perhaps despite a problem Jane had a difficult role to play, but she carried it off.  
Carry out Complete a plan The attack was successfully carried out  
Catch on Become popular – colloquial This new hairstyle is beginning to catch on.  
Come about Happen Let me explain how the situation came about.  
Come down to Be in the end, a matter of It all comes down to whether you are prepared to accept less money.  
Come in for Receive – especially criticism, blame The government has come in for a lot of criticism over the decision.  
Come off Take place successfully I’m afraid that deal didn’t come off after all.  
Come out Appear All the flowers have come out.

When the news came out, everyone was shocked.

My photos didn’t come out very well.

 
Come up Occur – usually a problem – colloquial Look, something has come up, and I can’t meet you.  
Come up against Meet a difficulty We’ve come up against a bit of problems.  
Come up to Equal – especially expectations, standard The play didn’t come up to expectations.  
Come up with Think of – especially an answer, a plan, a solution We still haven’t come up with a solution to the problem.  
Count on Rely on Don’t worry, you can count on me.  
Crop up Happen unexpectedly - colloquial I can’t come to your party, something has cropped up.  
Do away with Abolish - colloquial Dog licenses have been done away with. D
Do away with Murder - colloquial What if they do away with the old man?  
Do up Decorate - colloquial We are having our living room done up.  
Draw up Come to a stop A white sports car drew up outside the door.  
Draw up Organise – especially a document The contract is being drawn up at the moment.  
Drop in Pay a visit - colloquial Drop in any time you’re passing.  
Drop off Fall asleep - colloquial The baby has just dropped off.  
End up Finish in a certain way, or place We ended up staying there for lunch.

The car ended up in a ditch.

E
Face up to Have courage to deal with – especially responsibilities You have to face up to your responsibilities. F
Fall about Show amusement – especially laughing - colloquial Everyone fell about when Jane told her joke.  
Fall back on Use as a last resort If the worst comes to the worst, we’ve got our savings to fall back on.  
Fall for Be deceived by - colloquial It was an unlikely story but he fell for it.  

PHRASAL VERB

MEANING

EXAMPLES

 
Fall for Fall in love - colloquial I fell for you the moment I saw you.  
Fall out with Quarrel with Peter has fallen out with his boss.  
Fall through Fail to come to completion The plan fell through at the last minute.  
Feel up to Feel capable of doing Old Mr Smith didn’t feel up to walking all that way.  
Follow up Act upon a suggestion Thanks for the information about that book. I’ll follow it up.  
Follow up Take more action We’ll follow up this lesson next week.  
Get across Be understood – especially get an idea across I had the feeling I wasn’t getting across. G
Get at Imply – about personal matters – colloquial What are you getting at exactly?  
Get down Make to feel depressed - colloquial This cold weather really gets me down.  
Get down to Begin to seriously deal with It’s time we got down to some real work.  
Get off with Avoid punishment They were lucky to get off with such light sentences.  
Get on for Approach a certain age/time/number He must be getting on for seventy.  
Get on Make progress – especially in life Sue is getting on very well in her new job.  
Get over Be surprised I couldn’t get over how well she looked.  
Get over with Come to the end of something, usually unpleasant I’ll be glad to get this awful business over with.  
Get round to Fill time to do – also around Sorry, but I haven’t got round to fixing the tap yet.  
Get up to Do something – usually bad when about children - colloquial The children are getting up to something in the garden.

What have you been getting up to lately?

 
Give away Betray His false identity papers gave him away.  
Give off Send of a smell – liquid or gas The cheese had begun to give off a strange smell.  
Give out Be exhausted When our money gave out we had to borrow.  
Give over Abandon, devote The rest of the time was given over to playing cards.  
Give over Stop - colloquial Why don’t you give over! You’re getting on my nerves!  
Give up Surrender The escaped prisoner gave herself up.  
Give up Believed to be dead or lost After ten days the ship was given up for lost.  
Go back on Break a promise The management has gone back on its promise.  
Go in for Make a habit of I don’t go in for that kind of thing.  
Go in for Enter a competition Are you thinking of going in for the race?  
Go off Become bad - food This milk has gone off.  
Go on Happen – usually negative Something funny is going on.  
Go round Be enough There weren’t enough life jackets to go round.  
Go through with Complete a promise or plan – usually unwillingly When it came to actually stealing the money, Nora couldn’t go through with us.  
Grow on Become more liked - colloquial This new record is growing on me.  
Hang onto Keep - colloquial I think we should hang onto the car until next year. H
Have it in for Be deliberately unkind to someone – also as have got My teacher has (got) it in for me.  
Have it out with Express feelings so as to settle a problem I put up with the problem for a while but in the end I had it out with hers.  
Have someone on Deceive – colloquial I don’t believe you. You’re having me on.  
Hit it off Get on well with - colloquial Mark and Sarah really hit it off at the party.  
Hit upon/on Discover by chance – often an idea They hit upon the solution quite by chance.  
Hold out Offer – especially with hope We don’t hold out much hope that the price will fall.  
Hold up Delay Sorry I’m late, I was held up in the traffic  
Hold up Use as an example-i.e. A model of good behaviour John was always held up as an example to me.  
Hold with Agree with – an idea I don’t hold with the idea of using force.  
Keep up Continue Well done! Keep up the good work! K
Lay down State a rule-especially lay down the law The company has laid down strict procedures for this kind of situation. L
Let down Disappoint, break a promise. Sorry to let you down, but I can’t give you a lift today.  
Let it on Allow being part of a secret We haven’t let Tina in on the plans yet.  
Let off Excuse from punishment As Dave was young, the judge let him off with a fine.  

PHRASAL VERB

MEANING

EXAMPLES

 
Let on Inform about a secret - colloquial We’re planning a surprise for Helen, but don’t let on.  
(not) Live down Suffer a loss of reputation If City lose, they’ll never live it down.  
Live up to Reach an expected standard The play quite lived up to my expectations.  
Look into Investigate The police have promised to look into the problem.  
Look on Consider We look on this town as our real home.  
Look someone up Visit when in the area If you’re passing through Athens, look me up.  
Make for Result in The power steering makes for easier parking. M
Make off with Run away with The thief made off with a valuable necklace.  
Make out Pretend Tim made out that that he hadn’t seen the No Smoking sign.  
Make out Manage to see or understand I couldn’t quite make out what the notice said.  
Make someone out Understand someone’s behaviour Janet is really odd. I can’t make her out.  
Make up Invent I think you made up the whole story!  
Make up for Compensate for Our success makes up for all the hard times.  
Miss out Fail to include You have missed out a word here.  
Miss out Lose a chance - colloquial Five people got promoted, but I missed out again.  
Own up Confess - colloquial None of the children would own up to breaking the window. O
Pack in Stop an activity - colloquial John has packed in his job. P
Pay back Take revenge - colloquial She paid him back for all his insults.  
Pick up Improve - colloquial The weather seems to be picking up.  
Pin someone down Force to give a clear statement I asked Jim to name a suitable day, but I couldn’t pin him down.  
Play up Behave or work badly The car is playing up again. It won’t start.  
Point out Draw attention to a fact I pointed out that I would be on holiday anyway.  
Put off Manage to succeed It was a tricky plan, but we pulled it off.  
Push on Continue with some effort - colloquial Let’s push on and try to reach the coast by tonight.  
Put across Communicate ideas Harry is clever but he can’t put his ideas across.  
Put down to Explain the cause of Diane’s poor performance was put down to nerves.  
Put in for Apply for a job Sue has put in for a teaching job.  
Put oneself out Take trouble – to help someone Please don’t put yourself out making a meal. A sandwich will do.  
Put off Discourage - upset The crowd put the gymnast off, and he fell.  
Put up Offer accommodation We can put you up for a few days.  
Put up with Tolerate - bear I can’t put up with all this noise!  
Rip off Charge too much - colloquial You paid 50? They really ripped you off! R
Run down Criticise She’s always running down her husband.  
Run down Lose power - allow to decline I think the batteries are running down.  
Run into Meet Guess who I run into at the supermarket!  
Run to Have enough money I don’t think we can run to a holiday abroad this year.  
Run over Check – also run through Let’s run over the plan once more.  
Run up A bill – let a bill get longer without paying I ran up a huge telephone bill at the hotel.  
Run up against Encounter – usually a problem We’ve run up against a slight problem.  
See someone off Go to station, airport, etc to say goodbye to someone I went to the station to see them off. S
See through Realise the truth about I saw through his intentions at once.  
Send up Make fun of by imitating Jean is always sending up the French teacher.  
Set about Start working We must set about re-organising the office.  
Set in Establish itself – especially weather I think this rain has set in for the day.  
Set out Give in detail in writing This document sets out all the Union demands.  
Set out Arrange I’ve set out the refreshments in the hall.  
Set out Start an action Sue set out to write a biography but it became a novel.  
Set up Establish An inquiry into the accident has been set up.  
Set (up)on Attack We were set upon by a gang of hooligans.  
Sink in Realise slowly – colloquial intransitive Slowly the realisation that I had won began to sink in.  

PHRASAL VERB

MEANING

EXAMPLES

 
Slip up Make a mistake - colloquial Someone slipped up and my application was lost.  
Sort out Find a solution - colloquial Don’t worry, Mary will sort out your problem.  
Stand by Keep to an agreement The company agreed to stand by its original commitment.  
Stand for Represent – initials E.g. stands for exempli gratia, it’s Latin.  
Stand for Tolerate I will not stand for this kind of behaviour in my house!  
Stand in for Take the place of Carol has kindly agreed to stand in for Graham at the monthly meeting.  
Stand up to Resist – bear stress The engine won’t stand up to the strain.  
Step down Resign – colloquial The Chairman has stepped down after criticism from shareholders.  
Step up Increase Production at the Leeds plant has been stepped up.  
Stick up for Defend – especially yourself, your rights - colloquial You must learn to stick up for yourself.  
Take in Deceive Don’t be taken in by her apparent shyness. T
Take (it) out on Make someone else suffer because of one’s own sufferings I know you are unhappy, but don’t take it out on me!  
Take off Imitate – colloquial Dave takes off the Prime Minister really well.  
Take on Acquire a new characteristic My grandmother has taken on a new lease of life since her operation.  
Take on Do something extra She has taken on too much with a full-time job as well.  
Take out Insurance – sign an insurance agreement Ann has taken out life insurance.  
Take over Gain control of The army tried to take over the country.  
Take to someone Develop a liking for You’ll soon take to your new boss, I’m sure.  
Take up Time – occupy time The meeting took up a whole morning.  
Talk out of or into Dissuade from - persuade into Paul talked me into going skiing, against my better judgement.  
Tell off Scold – colloquial Our teacher told us off for being late.  
Tie in with Be in agreement with I’m afraid your party doesn’t quite tie in with our arrangements  
Track down Trace the whereabouts of The police tracked down the killer and arrested him.  
Try out Test – a machine Let’s try out the new washing machine.  
Turn down Reject an offer Another company offered me a job but I turned them down.  
Turn out Happen to be in the end He turned out to be an old friend of Helen’s.  
Turn out Come to a meeting or to form a crowd Thousands of fans turned out to welcome the team.  
Turn up Be discovered by chance Don’t worry about that missing book, it’s bound to turn up sooner or later.  
Turn up Arrive – often unexpectedly Not many people turned up for the lessons.  
Wear off Lose effect – especially a drug These painkillers wear off after about two hours. W
Work out Calculate – also work out at for specific amounts The hotel bill worked out at over 500.  

Gracias a Juan-Pedro Garrido Mendoza
C.P. Ntra. Sra. de Los Dolores
Cartagena
jgarrido@roble.pntic.mec.es

 
 

 

 

 

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