Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a verb used with a preposition or adverb that creates a different meaning from the original verb.  Here is a list of the most common phrasal verbs.
ask out to invite on a date
I’m going to ask Mary out.
ask around to seek information from several people
I’ll ask around to see if anybody found your dog.
add up to to come to a total of
The repairs add up to $288 plus tax.
back up (1) to reverse
your car up a few feet.
back up (2) to support
I’ll back up your story if anybody asks..
blow up (1) to fill with air
Blow up
those balloons for the party.
blow up (2) to lose your temper
He’s going to blow up when he hears about this.
break down (1) to quit functioning
The car broke down along the highway.
break down (2) to lose your composure
She broke down and cried when she heard the news.
break down (3) to divide into smaller amounts
Break down the math on that estimate, please.
break in/into (1) to forcibly enter a building
Somebody broke into the store last night.
break in (2) to interrupt
I hate to break in, but there’s a phone call for you.
break in (3) to make a new item easier to use
It will take a few days to break in that baseball glove.
break up (1) to end a relationship
John and Janice broke up yesterday.
break up (2) to laugh uncontrollably
Ann broke up laughing when Bob slipped on the ice and fell.
break out (1) to escape from prison
Two convicted murderers broke out of the local prison.
break out (2) to develop a rash or pimples
Jenny broke out after walking through the woods.
bring down to cause sadness or depression
I hate to bring you down, but your candidate is losing.
bring up (1) to raise a subject
Now that you bring it up, I haven’t seen Bob lately.
bring up (2) to raise a child
You need to bring a child up to respect authority.
call around to call several people on the phone
Can you call around to check the prices on that TV?
call back to return a phone call
You need to call Dan back.
call off to cancel or discontinue an event
They called off the rally because of bad weather.
call on (1) to ask somebody for an answer
The teacher called on Randy in math class.
call on (2) to visit somebody
The pastor is going to call on Mrs. Smith in the hospital.
call up to call on the phone
I called up John to see if he wants to go to the game.
calm down to regain your composure
She tried to calm Ann down after the earthquake.
care for (1) to like
I don’t care for anchovies on my pizza.
care for (2) to nurse or assist
She is caring for her elderly mother.
catch up to make up for a loss in time, space, or learning
I missed a lot of school while I was in the hospital so I need to catch up on my homework.
check in (1) to arrive at a hotel or airport
We can’t check in until after 3 PM.
check in (2) to contact somebody out of courtesy
I have to check in with my wife and let her know I’m okay.
check out (1) to leave a hotel
They checked out this morning.
check out (2) to observe
Check out that blonde in the bikini.
check out (3) to investigate
The officer checked out my story and confirmed it.
cheer up to make happier
Diane needed some cheering up after losing her job.
chip in to contribute
We’re all going to chip in and help buy Larry a present.
clean out to empty
He cleaned out his desk because it was his last day here.
come across to make an impression
She comes across as flirtatious but she’s just being friendly.
come apart to unravel
Her dress came apart at the dance.
come down with to acquire a sickness
Wash your hands often so you don’t come down with a cold.
come forward to make yourself or something known
The district attorney came forward with new evidence.
come from to originate in
Rogerio comes from Brazil.
count on to put confidence in
We’re counting on our team to make the playoffs.
cross out To put a line through
He crossed out the word “pretty” and wrote “lovely” instead.
cut back on To reduce your intake
I’m cutting back on carbs so I can lose some weight.
cut down To cause something to fall by cutting
He cut down the tree because it was dead.
cut in To interrupt during a dance
Do you mind if I cut in?
cut off (1) To stop providing something
His father cut off his allowance.
cut off (2) To remove with a knife
Van Gogh cut off his ear.
cut out To eliminate a certain behavior
She’s cutting sugar out of her diet.
do away with To eliminate
We’re going to do away with this computer system.
do over To do again
If I could do everything over I’d wait to get married.
do/go without To lack
I had to do without a computer until mine was repaired.
dress up To dress in a more formal fashion
We have to dress up for the wedding.
drop in To make an appearance
Andy and Denise decided to drop in at the last minute.
drop off To leave something with somebody
I’m going to drop off my suit at the dry cleaners.
drop out To quit before completing something
He dropped out of high school.
eat out To eat in a restaurant
We eat out a couple of times a week.
eat up To enjoy very much
If you tell her she’s beautiful she’ll eat it up.
end up To arrive at a certain location or result
We got lost and ended up in Peoria.
fall apart To deteriorate
My old car is falling apart.
fall down To fall to the ground
He slipped on the ice and fell down.
fall out To become separated
Her hair fell out after she went through radiation treatment.
figure out To realize something
Brad figured out that Ellen lied to him.
fill in To write something in a blank line
Fill in the blank with your name.
fill out (1) To provide information on a form
Fill out the tax forms completely and put them in the mail.
fill out (2) To gain weight
Donald has really filled out since high school.
fill up To fully supply something
I need to pull in to a gas station and fill up my tank.
find out To discover
We don’t want Bob to find out about his surprise party.
get across To explain adequately
The engineer tried to get his point across to management.
get along To have a good relationship
They get along much better since their divorce.
get around To have mobility
She gets around quite well for a woman her age.
get around to To attend to something
I haven’t gotten around to paying my taxes yet.
get away To vacation
I need to get away at least once a year to relax.
get away with To do something without detection
He got away with murder.
get back (1) To return
We got back from Europe yesterday.
get back (2) To get revenge
She got me back for the practical joke I played on her.
get back on To mount
He got back on the horse after he fell.
get dressed To put on clothing
You need to get dressed for school.
get over To recover from
Denise hasn’t gotten over losing her dog.
get ready To prepare for
You need to get ready for school.
get up To get out of your bed or your seat
You need to get up early tomorrow.
give away (1) To give something to somebody else
I gave my furniture away when I moved overseas.
give away (2) To reveal something
His expression gave away that he was lying.
give away (3) To release someone
Since her father was deceased her uncle gave her away at the wedding.
give back To return something to its owner
Ben took his brother’s bike but his dad made him give it back.
give in To succumb to pressure
He gave in to the temptation and started smoking again.
give out To dispense items for free
The singer gave out copies of his CD at the concert.
give up To surrender or quit
The boxer gave up after five rounds and threw in the towel.
go after To pursue
The police are going after the bank robber.
go against To oppose
The two best teams are going against each other tonight.
go ahead To proceed
You can go ahead with your plan to expand the business.
go back To return to a location
We need to go back to the store and look for my glasses.
go out To leave home for a social function
We need a babysitter so that we can go out to dinner.
go out with To date
I’ve been going out with Kathy for three months.
go over To review
Please go over this memo before I send it to the company.
grow apart To have a relationship decline
John and I grew apart after college.
grow into To grow until something fits
The coat is too big now but you’ll grow into it.
grow out of To grow until something doesn’t fit
Teenagers grow out of their clothes quickly.
grow up (1) To mature physically 
I grew up in California.
grow up (2) To mature emotionally
Grow up and act like an adult.
hand down (1) To give a used item to somebody
My brother handed down his football helmet to me.
hand down (2) To issue a legal ruling
The Supreme Court handed down their decision.
hand in To submit
Time has expired. Please hand in your test papers.
hand/pass out To dispense
The teacher handed out instructions for the term theme.
hand over To give something (usually by order)
The subpoena instructed him to hand over the evidence.
hang in there To remain positive or keep trying
If you hang in there I’m sure it will get easier.
hang/hold on To wait briefly
Hang on a minute while I answer this call.
hang up To end a phone call
After I hung up I went to sleep.
hold back To prevent or restrain
She couldn’t hold back the tears when they broke up.
hold on to To hold something in an attempt to avoid losing it
Hold on to your hat because it’s windy today.
hold up (1) To rob
A masked man held up the liquor store.
hold up (2) To stop doing something momentarily
Hold up a minute while I check the connections.
keep from To avoid a result
I had to hit my brakes to keep from hitting that child.
keep on/doing To continue
Keep on walking until you come to Main Street.
keep out To avoid a location
Keep out of my room!
keep up To  progress at  the  same  rate
Jack couldn’t keep up after missing so many classes.
let down (1) To disappoint
I’m sorry I let you down.
let down (2) To lower
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!
let in To allow somebody to enter
Who let the dog in the house?
let up To decrease the pressure
Let up a little on the gas.
log on/in To access or connect via authorization
You have to log in before you can check your email.
log off/out To disconnect or discontinue a session
Don’t forget to log off after you check your email.
look after To guard provide care for somebody
Can you look after my dog while I’m gone?
look down on To see as inferior
The people in that neighborhood look down on us.
look forward to To anticipate
I look forward to meeting your family.
look into To investigate
The police will look into the matter.
look out (1) To look at the outdoors
Look out the window and see what the weather is like.
look out (2) To be vigilant or cautious
Look out for spiders in that house.
look over (1) To review
Look over this report before I send it.
look over (2) To look from an elevated viewpoint
Look over the wall and see what’s happening.
look up (1) To look in vertical direction
Look up at the ceiling.
look up (2) To reference
Look up the definition of “wayward”.
look up to To view with respect or admiration
Gene really looks up to his father.
make up To reconcile
We both apologized and made up for last night’s spat.
pass away To die
My grandfather passed away yesterday at the age of 90.
pass out To become unconscious (not sleeping)
He passed out from the heat.
pass up To decline an offer
She passed up an opportunity to study at Harvard.
pay back To return borrowed money
Arthur paid me back the $200 I loaned him.
pick out To choose
She picked out her clothes for the party.
point out To bring to somebody’s attention
The interviewer pointed out the contradictory statements.
put down (1) To lay an item on a surface
He put the gun down on the ground and surrendered.
put down (2) To insult
Gary put down his old girlfriend in front of everybody.
put off To procrastinate or postpone
She always puts her taxes off until the last minute.
put on To clothe or dress
Put on your coat because it’s cold outside.
put out To extinguish
The firemen were able to put out the fire.
put together To assemble
The instructions show you how to put it together.
put up with To tolerate
I don’t think I can put up with him anymore.
run away To escape
My cousin ran away from home when he was 12.
run into To meet somebody by chance
I ran into your cousin at the mall yesterday.
run out To exhaust the supply of something
We ran out of beer at the party.
run over (1) To drive over someone or something
He ran over a dog on the way home from work.
run over (2) To travel a short distance
I’m going to run over to the store to get some milk.
run through To rehearse
We need to run through that last song again.
send back To return an item
They delivered the wrong item so we sent it back to them.
set up (1) To arrange or schedule an event
The company set up a meeting to discuss the bad report.
set up (2) To frame or trap somebody
The police set up a car to be stolen.
shop around to compare products and prices
We shopped around before we bought this car.
show off to display something impressive
He likes to show off his guitar playing for the crowd.
sleep over to spend the night in another home
My daughter is going to sleep over with her friend tonight.
sort out to organize items or information
We need to sort out the details about the accident.
stick to to stay with one thing, goal, or topic
He needs to stick to something long enough to succeed.
switch off to deactivate a connection
I switch off the light before I go to sleep.
switch on to activate a connection
I switched on the light so I could read.
take after to resemble a relative
Robert takes after his dad’s side of the family.
take apart to disassemble
My brother can take a clock apart and put it back together.
take back to return something
If you didn’t pay for it you should take it back to the store.
take off (1) to ascend
The plane will take off after the tower clears the runway.
take off (2) to remove clothing
After he stepped in the mud Kyle had to take his shoes off.
take out (1) to treat somebody to an event
I took my parents out to dinner for their anniversary.
take out (2) to remove something
Can you take out the trash?
take over to assume control
The co-pilot took over the plane when the pilot got sick.
tear up to destroy
I tore up my drawing and started over.
think back to remember or recall
Try to think back to when you were young.
think over to consider something
Think things over awhile and let me know your decision.
throw away/out to discard
I’m going to throw away my old floppy disks.
throw up to vomit
He was nauseas and then he started to throw up.
try on to sample an item of clothing
Try on that jacket and see if it fits.
try out audition or test
She’s going to try out for the cheerleading team.
turn down (1) to lower the volume
Turn down the TV for a minute, okay?
turn down (2) to decline an offer
Jeff proposed but Laura turned him down.
turn up (1) to raise the volume
Turn the TV up, please.
turn up (2) to reappear
My missing jewelry turned up in the clothes hamper.
use up to exhaust a supply
You used up the last of the hot water.
wake up to awaken
What time did you wake up?
warm up (1) to increase in temperature
It’s really starting to warm up now that summer’s here.
warm up (2) to prepare for exercise or competition
I need to warm up a bit before the marathon begins.
work out (1) to exercise
I’m going to the gym to work out.
work out (2) to prove successful
The new strategy worked out and sales increased.
work out (3) to solve a problem
He worked out the equation faster than I did.

Leave a Reply