Phrasal verbs are usually made of a verb and a preposition.

When we put the verb and the preposition together, the meaning often changes.

Phrasal Verbs

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

(ns) not separable – we cannot separate the parts of the phrasal verb
However, sometimes we can separate them using an adverb. (The game is almost over.)
(s) separable – we can separate the parts of the phrasal verb to put the subject in the middle (eg. The house was burned down in the fire. / The fire burned the house down.)
* Some phrasal verbs don’t take an object.

Be off (1) – an event or arrangement is cancelled.
(s) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object. We can separate the two words if we use it in a future sense. (The wedding is probably going to be called off.)
Sally found Brian with another woman, so now the wedding is off.
THE WEDDING IS OFF

Be off (2) –food has gone bad
(s) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object. It is possible to separate the two words, but it is a little unusual. (The food wasn’t put in the fridge. It is likely to be really off.)
Many people got sick after eating the fried rice. It had been left out of the fridge overnight and it was off.
THE RICE WAS OFF

Be over – to be finished
(s) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object, but we can add something after it if we use it to talk about the future. (The football game will be over soon. The football game will be over by 6pm.)
We often put an adverb after the auxiliary. Eg. This game is almost over. This game is nearly over. This game is not over.)
Oh no! It’s 5.30. The football game is over.
THE GAME IS OVER.

Be taken aback –to be surprised
(ns) This phrasal verb doesn’t need an object, but can take one.
I was taken aback when the boss offered me a ten thousand dollar pay rise!
I WAS TAKEN ABACK

Beat up – to hurt someone by hitting or punching them many times
(s) This phrasal very needs an object unless it is used as a passive (Fred was beaten up.)
Three men beat Jack up outside the dance on Friday. / Three men beat up Jack outside the dance on Friday.
THEY BEAT HIM UP.

Blow up (1) – to make something explode
(s) This phrasal verb needs an object unless it is used as a passive (The Italian embassy was blown up.)
The terrorists blew up the Italian embassy. / The terrorists blew the Italian embassy up.
THEY BLEW IT UP.

Blow up (2) – to fill something with air (eg. a car tyre or a balloon)
(s) This phrasal verb needs an object.
The tyre pressure was down to 17psi. It should be 32psi. I’ve had to blow it up twice already this week. / I’ve had to blow the tyre up twice already this week. / I’ve had to blow up the tyre twice already this week.
I BLEW IT UP.

Break down (1) – to lost control of one’s emotions
(ns) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object.
After her husband died, she had a nervous break down.
SHE HAD A BREAK DOWN.

Break down (2) – to stop working (machinery)
(ns) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object.
My car broke down so I took it to the garage and caught the bus to work.
MY CAR BROKE DOWN.

Break into – to enter a house / shop / building illegally
(ns) This phrasal verbs needs an object unless it is used in the passive (His house was broken into.)
Thieves broke into his house and stole his video machine and $500.
THIEVES BROKE INTO HIS HOUSE.

Break off – to end an engagement / relationship / official talks
(s) This phrasal verb needs an object.
He broke off the engagement a week before the wedding. / He broke it off.
HE BROKE IT OFF.

Break out – to begin (war / violence / fire / sickness)
(ns) This phrasal verb doesn’t need an object.
War broke out when the two leaders could not reach an agreement.
WAR BROKE OUT.

Break out in – to become covered by spots / sweat
(ns) This phrasal verb needs an object.
He broke out in a sweat when he was told he would need to give a talk to the staff.
HE BROKE OUT IN A SWEAT.

Break up (1) – to end a marriage / engagement / relationship – to separate
(ns) This phrasal verb doesn’t take an object.
Filippa and Steve broke up.
THEY BROKE UP.

Break up (2) to end an activity
(s) (ns) This phrasal verb is separable if it is active and not separable if it is passive.
The party broke up at 5am. (ns)
Two young boys were fighting. Max broke it up. (s)
THE PARTY BROKE UP AT 5AM. / MAX BROKE IT UP.

Bring up (1) – to look after and educate a child from the time they are a baby until they become adult.
(s) This phrasal verb takes an object except when it is passive (She was well brought up.)
Harry and Samantha brought up five children.
THEY BROUGHT UP FIVE CHILDREN.

Bring up (2) – to be sick / to vomit
(s) needs an object.
The dog swallowed 50c and brought it up a few minutes later.
HE BROUGHT IT UP.

Brush up – to practise something you used to know quite well
(s) needs an object
I’m going to China next month. I’ll have to brush up my Chinese before I leave.
I’LL HAVE TO BRUSH IT UP.

Burn down – to destroy something by burning
(s) needs an object unless it is in the passive (Their house burnt down.)
Three houses burned down when the forest fire came close to the town.
THEY BURNED DOWN.

Call off – to cancel something
(s) needs an object except when it is used with a passive
They called off the party when the President announced the country was a war. / The party was called off.
THEY CALLED IT OFF.

Calm down - to become less excited / to become less upset
(s) can take an object
Jack was very angry and it took him an hour to calm down. He calmed down. She calmed him down.
HE CALMED DOWN.

Carry out – to do a job / to follow instructions
(s) needs an object
The policewoman carried out her orders.
SHE CARRIED THEM OUT.

Catch on – to become popular
(ns) doesn’t need an object.
The new computer game caught on very quickly.
IT CAUGHT ON.

Check in – to report your arrival
(s) can take an object
He checked in to the hotel at 4.30pm. He checked his wife and children in.
HE CHECKED IN.

Cheer up – to make someone happier / to become happier
(s) doesn’t take an object
Anne felt sad, but she cheered up when her boyfriend rang her. / Anne’s boyfriend cheered her up.
SHE CHEERED UP. / HE CHEERED HER UP.

Come across – to find something / an unplanned meeting with someone
(ns) needs an object
I came across a gold ring when I was walking near the river.
I CAME ACROSS IT.

Come into – to receive something when someone dies
(ns) needs an object
She came into a lot of money when her parents died.
SHE CAME INTO IT.

Come round – to wake up after an accident
(ns) doesn’t need an object
Alex blacked out when a car hit him. When he came round he was lying in a hospital bed.

Come up with – to think of
(ns) needs an object
Jack wanted to go to Paris, but he had no money. So he came up with a plan to make money quickly. One month later he was in Paris!
HE CAME UP WITH A PLAN.

Cut down on – to reduce something
(ns) needs an object
I weigh too much. I am going on a diet. I will cut down on sweet food like chocolate and cake.
HE WILL CUT DOWN ON IT.

Cut off – to be separated from something
(s) if it is about a thing (ns) if it is about a person
He was lived on an island by himself and was cut off from the world.
We had no water today because the water company cut it off to repair the pipes.
THEY CUT IT OFF.

Die out – to disappear completely
(ns) doesn’t need an object
Many kinds of animals have died out during the last century.
THEY HAVE DIED OUT.

Do up – to make something work again or make something look attractive again
(s) takes an object
They bought an old house very cheaply and they did it up. It looks beautiful now.
THEY DID IT UP.

Do up – to close something – a button, a zipper or a shoelaces
(s) takes an object
My four year old son learnt how to do up his shoelaces.
HE LEARNT TO DO THEM UP.

Drop in – to visit someone without warning
(ns) doesn’t need an object
Mary dropped in yesterday. It was lovely. I hadn’t seen her for a few months.
SHE DROPPED IN.

Drop off – to drive someone somewhere
(s) takes an object
Sorry I’m late dear. I dropped Stuart off on the way home.
I DROPPED HIM OFF.

Drop off - to fall asleep
(ns) doesn’t take an object
The movie was boring. I dropped off and didn’t see the end.
I DROPPED OFF.

Drop out – to stop doing something (usually to stop a course of study)
(ns) doesn’t need an object
She dropped out of university when she found a job.
SHE DROPPED OUT.

Fall out – to argue
(ns) doesn’t need an object
They fell out because Mary wanted to send the children to a religious school and Sam wanted to send them to a government school.
THEY FELL OUT.

Fall through – an arrangement doesn’t happen
(ns) doesn’t take an object
The wedding fell through when the groom was found with another woman.
IT FELL THROUGH.

Fill in – to cmplete a form
(s) needs an object
He couldn’t fill the form in because he didn’t bring his glasses.
HE COULDN’T FILL IT IN.

Find out – to discover something / to find an answer
(s) usually has an object
I found out why little Johnnie isn’t doing well at school. He needs glasses. He can’t see properly.
I FOUND OUT WHY HE ISN’T DOING WELL.

Get away – to escape from prison/work/everyday life.
(ns) doesn’t need an object
We got away for two weeks at Christmas. It was wonderful. We spent hours at the beach every day.
WE GOT AWAY.

Get away with – do something wrong but avoid punishment
(ns) We got a way with not paying the phone bill for two years. The phone company didn’t discover the mistake!
WE GOT AWAY WITH IT.

Get over – recover from something / get well again
(ns) He got over his heart attack and is well again. He exercises everyday and eats well now.
HE GOT OVER IT.

Get around – to find another way/ to solve or avoid a problem
(ns) Jim and Alan usually catch the train to work. The train drivers were on strike this morning so Jim and Alan couldn’t take the train. They got aroundthe problem by catching a bus.
THEY GOT AROUND IT.

Get through (1) – to make contact with someone (usually by phone)
(ns) Grandma’s phone line wasn’t working all day. I was really worried. But I finally got through at about 8pm. She had accidentally disconnected the phone!
I FINALLY GOT THROUGH.

Get through (2) – to complete something
(ns) I finally got though that accounting course I was doing. It was really boring. I thought I’d never finish!
I GOT THROUGH IT.

Give in – to surrender
(ns) I don’t want to go to see a movie on the weekend, but both my children keep asking me to take them to see the new Disney movie. I think I will have to give in!
I WILL GIVE IN.

Give out – to distribute something
(s) Please give out the name tags when people register for the conference.
Please give the name tags out.
PLEASE GIVE THEM OUT.

Give up (1) - to stop doing something you usually do
(s) He gave up smoking last year.
He gave smoking up.
He gave it up.
He gave up.

Give up (2) - to stop trying to do something that is too difficult
(s) He was studying engineering, but he gave up because it was too hard.
He gave up studying.
He gave studying up.
He gave it up.
HE GAVE UP.

Go down - to become less swollen
(ns) His foot swelled up after he fell over while playing football. But is it going down now.
IT IS GOING DOWN.

Go for - to attack
(ns) Some kinds of dogs have been banned in my city because they attack children. They go for young children.
THEY GO FOR THEM.

Go off - to explode / a machine rings suddenly
(ns) The fire alarm went off at 2am, but there was no fire!
IT WENT OFF.

Go through (1) - to examine or search something
(ns) I went through all the bookcases and looked everywhere, but I couldn't find my atlas.
I went through the bookcase.
I WENT THROUGH IT.

Go through (1) - to endure or suffer something (ns) takes an object He went through a terrible divorce case and finally he got custody of his children.
HE WENT THROUGH A TERRIBLE DIVORCE.

Go with - to suit or to match
(ns) I think I'll buy the green shoes. They will go with my green skirt.
THIS GOES WITH THAT.

Grow up - to develop from a child to an adult
(ns) When I grow up I want to be a garbage collector.
CHILDREN GROW UP VERY QUICKLY THESE DAYS.

Hold on - to wait
(ns) (Jack is on the phone) Yes, I'll hold on while you check the address.
I'LL HOLD ON.

Hold up (1) - a delay
(ns) There was an accident today and it held up rush hour traffic.
I was held up.
THERE WAS A TRAFFIC HOLD UP.

Hold up (2) - to rob a person, bank or vehicle using a gun or other weapon
(s) Two men help up the bank.
They held the bank up.
They held it up.
THE BANK WAS HELD UP.

Lay off - to sack or stop employing some staff because there is not enough work
(s) The company laid off 20 people today.
The company laid 20 people off.
The company laid them off.
THEY WERE LAID OFF.

Let down - to disappoint someone
(s) Jack promised Ellen a job when she turned 18, but when she asked about it on her birthday, he said that he didn't need anyone. Jack let Ellen down.
He let down Ellen. (not usually used)
HE LET HER DOWN.

Let off - to not punish someone for a mistake/crime
(s) Alex should have washed the dishes but his mother let him off because he had an exam the next day.
She let Alex off.
SHE LET HIM OFF.

Let out - to release someone/something, to let someone/something go
(s) He let out the cat as soon as he arrived at the new house.
He let the cat out.
HE LET IT OUT.

Look after - to care for someone or something
(ns) He looks after the children while she goes to work.
HE LOOKS AFTER THEM.

Look back - to remember the past / to think about the past
(ns) When I look back at my childhood, I realise I was very lucky.
It is good to look back and remember.
IT IS GOOD TO LOOK BACK.

Look down on - to think that someone or something is not as good as you / to disapprove of something or someone
(ns) Sometimes rich or educated people look down on others.
THE LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS.

Look for - try to find someone or something
(ns) Where are the children? They should be home by now. I'll have to go and look for them.
WHERE ARE THEY? I'LL HAVE TO LOOK FOR THEM.

Look forward to - to think about something in the future with pleasure
(ns) I'm going to visit my aunt in England. I haven't seen her for several years. I'm really looking forward to it.
I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS.

Look into - try to find the answer to a mystery or crime / to investigate
(ns) The school burnt down during the holidays. Maybe some children started the fire. The police are looking into it.
THE POLICE ARE LOOKING INTO IT.

Look over - to look at something carefully
(s) Don't sign until your solicitor looks over the documents.
Ask your solicitor to look the documents over.
Ask your solicitor to look them over.

HE WILL LOOK THEM OVER.

Look round/around - to visit a place or to inspect it
(ns) We just moved into a new house. I had a look around the neighbourhood. There are lots of parks and shops nearby.
I HAD A LOOK AROUND.

Look up - to find (or try to find) information
(s) No-one knows where she lives.. I'll have to look up her number and address in the phone book.
I'll look her number up.
I'LL LOOK IT UP.

Look up to - to respect or admire someone
(ns) Jack looked up to his big brother and wanted to be just like him.
JACK LOOKED UP TO HIM.

Make out (1) - to see or hear something with difficulty
(s) Jane rang yesterday. The phone connection was really bad. It was hard to make out what she said, but I think she said she would be arriving in Paris on Saturday and she'll ring when she gets there.
It was hard to make out what she said.
It was hard to make what she said out. (unusual because the meaning is difficult to follow)
IT WAS HARD TO MAKE IT OUT.

Make out (2 )- to write out a cheque
(s) She made out a cheque to pay the dealer for the new car.
She made a cheque out to the dealer.
She made it out to the dealer.
SHE MADE A CHEQUE OUT TO THE SHOP.

Make up (1) - to create or invent a story
(s) She lied to the police about where she was at the time of the robbery. She made up a story.
She made a story up.
SHE MADE IT UP.

Make up (2) - to become friends again after a fight
(ns)
The two brothers had been firghting for many years but they made up when their sister had a serious accident.
THEY MADE UP.

Make up for - to compensate for making a mistake
(ns) Ian missed his daughter's birthday party because his plane was delayed. He made up for it by taking her to the zoo the next day.
HE MADE UP FOR IT.

Mistake for - to make a mistake and think one person is another person
(s) (This one is unusual because it MUST be separated)
Billy looks like Brad Pitt. Many girls mistake Billy for Brad.
They mistake him for Brad.
HE IS MISTAKEN FOR BRAD.

Own up - to confess / to tell someone that you did something wrong
(ns) A student took money from the principal's office. The teacher was going to punish the whole class, so Johny finally owned up and said it was him.
He owned up to it.
HE OWNED UP.

Pass away / pass on - to die
(ns) Sue Smith was over 100 years old when she passed away.
SHE PASSED AWAY.

Pass out - to lose consciousness
(ns) He passed out when he heard that he had won over 10 million dollars.
HE PASSED OUT.

Pick up - to collect or get someone or something
(s) I"ll pick up some milk on the way home.
I'll pick some milk up.
I'LL PICK IT UP.

Point out - to show or draw attention to something
(s) I used to live in this neighbourhood when I was a child. I'll point out my old house as we drive past.
I'll point my old house out.
I'LL POINT IT OUT.

Put forward - to suggest something
(s) Sam says that during the summer school should start an hour earlier and finish an hour earlier. He is going to put forward the idea at the menxt school meeting.
He's going to put the idea forward.
HE'S GOING TO PUT IT FORWARD.

Put off (1) - delay an event or a meeting
(s) The boss is really busy today. She decided to put off the staff meeting until Friday.
She put the staff meeting off.
SHE PUT IT OFF.

Put off (2) - to discourage
(ns) I used to love Elvis Presley. He was a great singer. But I was put off when I saw an interview with him. I didn't like him at all.
I WAS PUT OFF.

Put on - to dress
(s) The weather changes all the time in Melbourne. I never know what to put on.
Jack put on his new shoes.
Jack put his new shoes on.
JACK PUT THEM ON.

Put out - to extinguish
(s) Molly put out her cigarette.
Molly put her cigarette out.
MOLLY PUT IT OUT.

Put through - to connect a telephone call
(s) Ian is on the other line. I'll put through Ian. (not used)
I'll put Ian through.
I'LL PUT HIM THROUGH.

Put up with - to suffer or tolerate something
(ns) Rob works long hours. He puts up with long hoursbecause he loves his work.
HE PUTS UP WITH IT.

Run into - to meet someone by chance
(ns) I ran into Mary when I was at the theatre the other night.
I RAN INTO HER.

Run out of - to use something so that there is none left
(ns) Oh dear! The printer has run out of paper again.
The printer has run out of it again. (unusual usage because the meaning of 'it' would not normally be clear)
WE'VE RUN OUT OF BREAD.

See off - to say goodbye to someone when they leave and go to the door/gate/airport with them.
(s) Billy is going back to Japan on Sunday. I'm going to the airport to see Billy off.
I'm going to see off Billy. (not used)
I'M GOING TO SEE HIM OFF.

Set off - to start a journey or a task
(ns) Allen and Betty set off on their world trip last January. They should be back soon.
Jack sets off for America next month.
We'll set off at 6am to get an early start.
THEY'LL SET OFF AT 6AM.

Soak up - to become filled with something (information/liquid/knowledge/an atmosphere)
(s) Use the sponge to soak up the water on the table.
Use the sponge to soak the water up.
USE THE SPONGE TO SOAK IT UP.

Speak up - to speak louder / to speak even though you are shy
(ns) The telephone connection is not good. Please speak up.
You have some great ideas. Don't be afraid to speak up at the meeting.
SPEAK UP, I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

Stand for - to represent something
(ns) Did you know that SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Appartus?
The conservative politician stands for family values.
W.H.O. STANDS FOR WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION.

Take after - to look like a relative or to behave like a relative
(ns) Jill takes after her father. They are both always happy.
SHE TAKES AFTER HIM.

Take down (1) - to remove a sign or poster or website
(s) There was a great music website. You could get lots of song lyrics. But they took down for copyright reasons.
They took the website down.
THEY TOOK IT DOWN.

Take down (2) - to write down some information
(s) I took down her telephone number, but now I have lost it!
I took down it. (not used)
I took it down.
I went to the history lecture and took down some notes. Do you want to borrow them?
I took some notes down.
I TOOK DOWN SOME NOTES.

Take in(1) - to cheat or deceive someone
(ns) The real estate company sold people land that was often flooded.The people who bought the land didn't know. They were taken in by the salesmen.
They were taken in by them.
THEY WERE TAKEN IN.

Take in (2) - to absorb information
(s) Alice is amazing. She is only 4, but she learns so quickly. She listens to adults and watches TV and takes everything in.
She takes in it. (not used)
SHE TAKES IT IN.

Take off (1) - to become successful
(ns) The Internet has taken off in the last 4 or 5 years.
IT HAS TAKEN OFF.

Take off (2) - to remove clothes from the body
(s) I took off my sweater and now I can't find it.
I took my sweater off.
I TOOK IT OFF.

Take off (3) - to begin a journey
(ns) The aeroplane took off on time.
IT TOOK OFF.

Take over - to take responsibility or control from someone else
(ns) If the idea of the sentence is 'who' then it is not separable. (s) If the idea is what' then it is seperable.
John took over when the old manager left.
John took over.
John took over the job from Peter.
JOHN TOOK IT OVER.

Take up - to begin a hobby or a course of study
(s) Alan took up Italian three years ago. Now he speaks it really well.
Alan took Italian up.
ALAN TOOK IT UP.

Tear up - to destroy paper or material
(s) Jenny tore up the letter Ian sent her.
Jenny tore the letter up.
JENNY TORE IT UP.

Tell off - to tell someone they have done the wrong thing
(s) The teacher told off the children for misbehaving.
The teacher told the children off.
THE TEACHER TOLD THEM OFF.

Think over - to consider or think about a problem or a situation
(s) The company offered him a great job, but he will have to move to Siberia. He is thinking over the job offer.
He is thinking the job offer over.
HE IS THINKING IT OVER.

Try on - to put on some clothing to see if it fits well or looks good
(S) Have your tried on your wedding dress yet?
Have you tried your wedding dress on yet?
HAVE YOU TRIED IT ON?

Try out - to test something or someone
(s) Jason got a new computer, but he hasn't tried it out yet.
He hasn't tried the computer out.
HE HASN'T TRIED IT OUT.

Turn down - to refuse an offer
(s) Diane was offered a great job with MItsubishi, but she turned it down.
She turned the job down.
SHE TURNED IT DOWN.

Turn into - to become something else
(ns) In the fairytale the ugly frog turned into a handsome prince.
Alex wasn't very confident at first, but he turned into a great maths teacher.
HE TURNED INTO A HANDSOME YOUNG MAN.

Wear off - to disappear slowly
(ns) The tread on my tyres wore off, so I had to replace all four tyres.
It wore off.
Ben and Sandra were very happy when they first married, but there happiness soon wore off. Now they are both unhappy.
IT WORE OFF.

Wear out (1) to use something until it is no longer able to be used
(s) My shoes are wearing out.
I am wearing out my shoes.
I am wearing my shoes out.
I am wearing them out.
MY SHOES ARE WORN OUT.

Wear out (2) - to become tired
(s) After playing soccer all day he was worn out.
Playing soccer wore out Jason. (unusual - not used much)
Playing soccer wore Jason out.
PLAYING SOCCER WORE HIM OUT.

Work out - to solve a problem / to have a good outcome
(s) Brian was having trouble with a maths problem, but finally he worked out the answer.
He worked the answer out.
HE WORKED IT OUT.

 

 

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