In English traditional grammar, a phrasal verb is the combination of two or three words from different grammatical categories – a verb and a particle, such as an adverb or a preposition – to form a single semantic unit on a lexical or syntactic level. Examples: turn down, run into, sit up.
200 common phrasal verbs, with
– example sentence
ask somebody out
invite on a date
Brian asked Judy out to dinner and a movie.
ask many people the same question
I asked around but nobody has seen my wallet.
add up to something
Your purchases add up to $205.32.
back something up
You’ll have to back up your car so that I can get out.
back somebody up
My wife backed me up over my decision to quit my job.
The racing car blew up after it crashed into the fence.
blow something up
We have to blow 50 balloons up for the party.
stop functioning (vehicle, machine)
Our car broke down at the side of the highway in the snowstorm.
The woman broke down when the police told her that her son had died.
break something down
divide into smaller parts
Our teacher broke the final project down into three separate parts.
force entry to a building
Somebody broke in last night and stole our stereo.
break into something
The firemen had to break into the room to rescue the children.
break something in
wear something a few times so that it doesn’t look/feel new
I need to break these shoes in before we run next week.
The TV station broke in to report the news of the president’s death.
end a relationship
My boyfriend and I broke up before I moved to America.
start laughing (informal)
The kids just broke up as soon as the clown started talking.
The prisoners broke out of jail when the guards weren’t looking.
break out in something
develop a skin condition
I broke out in a rash after our camping trip.
bring somebody down
This sad music is bringing me down.
bring somebody up
raise a child
My grandparents brought me up after my parents died.
bring something up
start talking about a subject
My mother walks out of the room when my father brings up sports.
bring something up
He drank so much that he brought his dinner up in the toilet.
phone many different places/people
We called around but we weren’t able to find the car part we needed.
call somebody back
return a phone call
I called the company back but the offices were closed for the weekend.
call something off
Jason called the wedding off because he wasn’t in love with his fiancé.
call on somebody
ask for an answer or opinion
The professor called on me for question 1.
call on somebody
We called on you last night but you weren’t home.
call somebody up
Give me your phone number and I will call you up when we are in town.
relax after being angry
You are still mad. You need to calm down before you drive the car.
not care for somebody/ something
not like (formal)
I don’t care for his behaviour.
get to the same point as somebody else
You’ll have to run faster than that if you want to catch up with Marty.
arrive and register at a hotel or airport
We will get the hotel keys when we check in.
leave a hotel
You have to check out of the hotel before 11:00 AM.
check somebody/ something out
look at carefully, investigate
The company checks out all new employees.
check out somebody/ something
look at (informal)
Check out the crazy hair on that guy!
She cheered up when she heard the good news.
cheer somebody up
I brought you some flowers to cheer you up.
If everyone chips in we can get the kitchen painted by noon.
clean something up
Please clean up your bedroom before you go outside.
come across something
I came across these old photos when I was tidying the closet.
The top and bottom come apart if you pull hard enough.
come down with something
My nephew came down with chicken pox this weekend.
volunteer for a task or to give evidence
The woman came forward with her husband’s finger prints.
come from some place
The art of origami comes from Asia.
count on somebody/ something
I am counting on you to make dinner while I am out.
cross something out
draw a line through
Please cross out your old address and write your new one.
cut back on something
My doctor wants me to cut back on sweets and fatty foods.
cut something down
make something fall to the ground
We had to cut the old tree in our yard down after the storm.
Your father cut in while I was dancing with your uncle.
pull in too closely in front of another vehicle
The bus driver got angry when that car cut in.
start operating (of an engine or electrical device)
The air conditioner cuts in when the temperature gets to 22°C.
cut something off
remove with something sharp
The doctors cut off his leg because it was severely injured.
cut something off
The phone company cut off our phone because we didn’t pay the bill.
cut somebody off
take out of a will
My grandparents cut my father off when he remarried.
cut something out
remove part of something (usually with scissors and paper)
I cut this ad out of the newspaper.
do somebody/ something over
beat up, ransack (BrE, informal)
He’s lucky to be alive. His shop was done over by a street gang.
do something over
do again (AmE)
My teacher wants me to do my essay over because she doesn’t like my topic.
do away with something
It’s time to do away with all of these old tax records.
do something up
Do your coat up before you go outside. It’s snowing!
wear nice clothing
It’s a fancy restaurant so we have to dress up.
move back in a position/group
Andrea dropped back to third place when she fell off her bike.
drop in/ by/ over
come without an appointment
I might drop in/by/over for tea sometime this week.
drop somebody/ something off
take somebody/ something somewhere and leave them/it there
I have to drop my sister off at work before I come over.
quit a class, school etc
I dropped out of Science because it was too difficult.
eat at a restaurant
I don’t feel like cooking tonight. Let’s eat out.
We ended up renting a movie instead of going to the theatre.
break into pieces
My new dress fell apart in the washing machine.
fall to the ground
The picture that you hung up last night fell down this morning.
separate from an interior
The money must have fallen out of my pocket.
(of hair, teeth) become loose and unattached
His hair started to fall out when he was only 35.
figure something out
understand, find the answer
I need to figure out how to fit the piano and the bookshelf in this room.
fill something in
to write information in blanks, as on a form (BrE)
Please fill in the form with your name, address, and phone number.
fill something out
to write information in blanks, as on a form (AmE)
The form must be filled out in capital letters.
fill something up
fill to the top
I always fill the water jug up when it is empty.
We don’t know where he lives. How can we find out?
find something out
We tried to keep the time of the party a secret, but Samantha found it out.
get something across/ over
communicate, make understandable
I tried to get my point across/over to the judge but she wouldn’t listen.
like each other
I was surprised how well my new girlfriend and my sister got along/on.
My grandfather can get around fine in his new wheelchair.
go on a vacation
We worked so hard this year that we had to get away for a week.
get away with something
do without being noticed or punished
Jason always gets away with cheating in his maths tests.
We got back from our vacation last week.
get something back
receive something you had before
Liz finally got her Science notes back from my room-mate.
get back at somebody
retaliate, take revenge
My sister got back at me for stealing her shoes. She stole my favourite hat.
get back into something
become interested in something again
I finally got back into my novel and finished it.
get on something
step onto a vehicle
We’re going to freeze out here if you don’t let us get on the bus.
get over something
recover from an illness, loss, difficulty
I just got over the flu and now my sister has it.
get over something
overcome a problem
The company will have to close if it can’t get over the new regulations.
get round to something
finally find time to do (AmE: get around to something)
I don’t know when I am going to get round to writing the thank you cards.
meet (usually for social reasons)
Let’s get together for a BBQ this weekend.
get out of bed
I got up early today to study for my exam.
You should get up and give the elderly man your seat.
give somebody away
reveal hidden information about somebody
His wife gave him away to the police.
give somebody away
take the bride to the altar
My father gave me away at my wedding.
give something away
ruin a secret
My little sister gave the surprise party away by accident.
give something away
give something to somebody for free
The library was giving away old books on Friday.
give something back
return a borrowed item
I have to give these skates back to Franz before his hockey game.
reluctantly stop fighting or arguing
My boyfriend didn’t want to go to the ballet, but he finally gave in.
give something out
give to many people (usually at no cost)
They were giving out free perfume samples at the department store.
give something up
quit a habit
I am giving up smoking as of January 1st.
My maths homework was too difficult so I gave up.
go after somebody
My brother tried to go after the thief in his car.
go after something
try to achieve something
I went after my dream and now I am a published writer.
go against somebody
We are going against the best soccer team in the city tonight.
Please go ahead and eat before the food gets cold.
return to a place
I have to go back home and get my lunch.
leave home to go on a social event
We’re going out for dinner tonight.
go out with somebody
Jesse has been going out with Luke since they met last winter.
go over something
Please go over your answers before you submit your test.
visit somebody nearby
I haven’t seen Tina for a long time. I think I’ll go over for an hour or two.
go without something
suffer lack or deprivation
When I was young, we went without winter boots.
stop being friends over time
My best friend and I grew apart after she changed schools.
My roses grew back this summer.
grow into something
grow big enough to fit
This bike is too big for him now, but he should grow into it by next year.
grow out of something
get too big for
Elizabeth needs a new pair of shoes because she has grown out of her old ones.
become an adult
When Jack grows up he wants to be a fireman.
hand something down
give something used to somebody else
I handed my old comic books down to my little cousin.
hand something in
I have to hand in my essay by Friday.
hand something out
to distribute to a group of people
We will hand out the invitations at the door.
hand something over
give (usually unwillingly)
The police asked the man to hand over his wallet and his weapons.
stay positive (informal)
Hang in there. I’m sure you’ll find a job very soon.
wait a short time (informal)
Hang on while I grab my coat and shoes!
spend time relaxing (informal)
Instead of going to the party we are just going to hang out at my place.
end a phone call
He didn’t say goodbye before he hung up.
hold somebody/ something back
prevent from doing/going
I had to hold my dog back because there was a cat in the park.
hold something back
hide an emotion
Jamie held back his tears at his grandfather’s funeral.
wait a short time
Please hold on while I transfer you to the Sales Department.
hold onto somebody/ something
hold firmly using your hands or arms
Hold onto your hat because it’s very windy outside.
hold somebody/ something up
A man in a black mask held the bank up this morning.
keep on doing something
Keep on stirring until the liquid comes to a boil.
keep something from somebody
We kept our relationship from our parents for two years.
keep somebody/ something out
stop from entering
Try to keep the wet dog out of the living room.
keep something up
continue at the same rate
If you keep those results up you will get into a great college.
let somebody down
fail to support or help, disappoint
I need you to be on time. Don’t let me down this time.
let somebody in
allow to enter
Can you let the cat in before you go to school?
log in (or on)
sign in (to a website, database etc)
I can’t log in to Facebook because I’ve forgotten my password.
log out (or off)
sign out (of a website, database etc)
If you don’t log off somebody could get into your account.
look after somebody/ something
take care of
I have to look after my sick grandmother.
look down on somebody
think less of, consider inferior
Ever since we stole that chocolate bar your dad has looked down on me.
look for somebody/ something
try to find
I’m looking for a red dress for the wedding.
look forward to something
be excited about the future
I’m looking forward to the Christmas break.
look into something
We are going to look into the price of snowboards today.
be careful, vigilant, and take notice
Look out! That car’s going to hit you!
look out for somebody/ something
be especially vigilant for
Don’t forget to look out for snakes on the hiking trail.
look something over
Can you look over my essay for spelling mistakes?
look something up
search and find information in a reference book or database
We can look her phone number up on the Internet.
look up to somebody
have a lot of respect for
My little sister has always looked up to me.
make something up
invent, lie about something
Josie made up a story about why we were late.
forgive each other
We were angry last night, but we made up at breakfast.
make somebody up
apply cosmetics to
My sisters made me up for my graduation party.
mix something up
confuse two or more things
I mixed up the twins’ names again!
His uncle passed away last night after a long illness.
It was so hot in the church that an elderly lady passed out.
pass something out
give the same thing to many people
The professor passed the textbooks out before class.
pass something up
decline (usually something good)
I passed up the job because I am afraid of change.
pay somebody back
return owed money
Thanks for buying my ticket. I’ll pay you back on Friday.
pay for something
be punished for doing something bad
That bully will pay for being mean to my little brother.
pick something out
I picked out three sweaters for you to try on.
point somebody/ something out
indicate with your finger
I’ll point my boyfriend out when he runs by.
put something down
put what you are holding on a surface or floor
You can put the groceries down on the kitchen counter.
put somebody down
insult, make somebody feel stupid
The students put the substitute teacher down because his pants were too short.
put something off
We are putting off our trip until January because of the hurricane.
put something out
The neighbours put the fire out before the firemen arrived.
put something together
I have to put the crib together before the baby arrives.
put up with somebody/ something
I don’t think I can put up with three small children in the car.
put something on
put clothing/ accessories on your body
Don’t forget to put on your new earrings for the party.
run into somebody/ something
I ran into an old school-friend at the mall.
run over somebody/ something
drive a vehicle over a person or thing
I accidentally ran over your bicycle in the driveway.
run over/ through something
Let’s run over/through these lines one more time before the show.
leave unexpectedly, escape
The child ran away from home and has been missing for three days.
have none left
We ran out of shampoo so I had to wash my hair with soap.
send something back
return (usually by mail)
My letter got sent back to me because I used the wrong stamp.
set something up
Our boss set a meeting up with the president of the company.
set somebody up
The police set up the car thief by using a hidden camera.
I want to shop around a little before I decide on these boots.
act extra special for people watching (usually boastfully)
He always shows off on his skateboard
stay somewhere for the night (informal)
You should sleep over tonight if the weather is too bad to drive home.
sort something out
organize, resolve a problem
We need to sort the bills out before the first of the month.
stick to something
continue doing something, limit yourself to one particular thing
You will lose weight if you stick to the diet.
switch something off
stop the energy flow, turn off
The light’s too bright. Could you switch it off.
switch something on
start the energy flow, turn on
We heard the news as soon as we switched on the car radio.
take after somebody
resemble a family member
I take after my mother. We are both impatient.
take something apart
purposely break into pieces
He took the car brakes apart and found the problem.
take something back
return an item
I have to take our new TV back because it doesn’t work.
start to fly
My plane takes off in five minutes.
take something off
remove something (usually clothing)
Take off your socks and shoes and come in the lake!
take something out
remove from a place or thing
Can you take the garbage out to the street for me?
take somebody out
pay for somebody to go somewhere with you
My grandparents took us out for dinner and a movie.
tear something up
rip into pieces
I tore up my ex-boyfriend’s letters and gave them back to him.
remember (often + to, sometimes + on)
When I think back on my youth, I wish I had studied harder.
think something over
I’ll have to think this job offer over before I make my final decision.
throw something away
We threw our old furniture away when we won the lottery.
turn something down
decrease the volume or strength (heat, light etc)
Please turn the TV down while the guests are here.
turn something down
I turned the job down because I don’t want to move.
turn something off
stop the energy flow, switch off
Your mother wants you to turn the TV off and come for dinner.
turn something on
start the energy, switch on
It’s too dark in here. Let’s turn some lights on.
turn something up
increase the volume or strength (heat, light etc)
Can you turn the music up? This is my favourite song.
Our cat turned up after we put posters up all over the neighbourhood.
try something on
I’m going to try these jeans on, but I don’t think they will fit.
try something out
I am going to try this new brand of detergent out.
use something up
finish the supply
The kids used all of the toothpaste up so we need to buy some more.
We have to wake up early for work on Monday.
warm somebody/ something up
increase the temperature
You can warm your feet up in front of the fireplace.
prepare body for exercise
I always warm up by doing sit-ups before I go for a run.
Most of my make-up wore off before I got to the party.
I work out at the gym three times a week.
Our plan worked out fine.
work something out
make a calculation
We have to work out the total cost before we buy the house.