Phrasal Verb meaning

Phrasal verbs are such an important part of learning the English language that you should consider them less as an element of grammar and more as a chunk of must have vocabulary.

Typically, a phrasal verb will contain either a verb + adverb or a verb + preposition.  Some contain three words, but we’ll cover them another day. 

A long phrasal verbs list

I don’t want to beat around the bush here… there are a lot of phrasal verbs.  A lot.  Rather than suggesting memorising them, we’d recommend that you learn them as you come across them.  That said, some that are more common than others.  In this blog, we’ll take you through 25 phrasal verbs that natives use daily.  A great starting place.  Let’s jump in.

Come in

Enter a place

It’s freezing outside, COME IN and get warm. 

Are you COMING IN or are you heading straight off? 

He CAME IN around 10pm, which was earlier than I had expected as he was out celebrating with the boys.

Drop in

An unplanned visit to someone or somewhere

You can’t just DROP IN whenever you like, you must warn me in future. 

Daniel DROPPED IN yesterday for a cup of tea, it was lovely to see him.

I was thinking of DROPPING IN at the office on my way to the airport, I need to pick up a few bits.

Drop off

a. To fall asleep

b. To deliver an item / person to it’s destination

a. I sat down for a few minutes and instantly DROPPED OFF.

b. My father is DROPPING me OFF at the airport this afternoon.

b. Can you DROP this parcel OFF at the post office on your lunch break? 

Cut off

a. Remove a part using a sharp instrument like scissors

b. Stopping or interrupting the supply of something

c. Separate / End a connection

d. Interrupt someone when they are talking / End a call unexpectedly

  1. The hairdresser CUT all my hair OFF.
  2. The blood supply to the arm was CUT OFF for a few minutes during the operation.
  3. As you haven’t paid your telephone bill we will be CUTTING you OFF at the end of the month. 
  4. I don’t like talking to Gerrard, he literally CUTS me OFF every time I try to make a point. 

Come across

a. To discover something / find something by chance

b. How you appear to people / what impression you make

  1. While I was moving all the boxes from the attic I CAME ACROSS these old photos. 
  2. You COME ACROSS as a cold, ruthless woman, but now that I have spent some time with you  I know that is not true. 

Fill up

To make something full

What do you need petrol money for?  I FILLED the car UP a few days ago.

I can’t eat another mouthful, I am completely FULL UP.

Can you please FILL UP the empty boxes before putting them in storage.

Get up

Rise from a seated or lying position

I couldn’t GET the kids UP on time this morning.

She said she felt dizzy when she GOT UP from her chair, and then she fainted.

Give up

Stop trying to achieve something

English is so hard to learn but I am never going to GIVE UP.

Grow up

To age / Get bigger

What do you want to be when you GROW UP?

Go out

Leave the building / place that you are currently in

Is dad GOING OUT tonight mum?

I really want to GO OUT later but it’s raining.

We all WENT OUT at the weekend and had so much fun.

I’m sorry she has GONE OUT.

Go ahead

a. Continue

b. Go in front

  1. I am too busy to join you right now but please GO AHEAD without me.
  2. Your dad can’t walk very fast so you GO AHEAD.

Hang on

a. Wait

b. Continue hanging for a moment

  1. I will find out for you, please HANG ON.
  2. Don’t let go, HANG ON and I will come to your rescue.

Hold on

          a. Wait

b. Hold something for security

  1. Please HOLD ON for a moment and I will let your teacher know that you have arrived.
  2. HOLD ON to my hand as we cross the road please.

Log in

Enter an online area using a personalised code / password

I can’t log into my emails and I don’t know why.

Log out

Exit the online area

Please remember to log out at the end of class.

Look out

a. Be careful

b. Be observant / watch for something

a. The oven is about to explode, LOOK OUT!

b. My little brother is arriving today could you LOOK OUT for him arriving and give me a shout when he does.

Pay for

Give money in return for goods or services

Please let me PAY FOR dinner.

I treated me and didn’t let me PAY FOR anything.

Put down

a. Place something that you are holding down

b. To put an animal to death (usually due to illness)

c. Say something negative to / about a person intended in a negative way.

  1. This is very heavy, could I PUT it DOWN for a moment?
  2. I’m afraid your dog is too sick to operate on so we must PUT him DOWN.

c.  My boyfriend says I am fat, in fact he is always PUTTING me DOWN.  I should leave him.

Put on

a. Wear

b. Pretend

  1. PUT your coat ON it’s freezing outside.
  2. Stop PUTTING ON that silly voice, speak normally. 

Turn on

a. Give power

b. Stimulate

a. TURN ON the lights and computer please.

b. His accent really TURNED her ON.

Turn off

Opposite to ‘turn on’

  1. Remember to TURN OFF the lights.
  2. His laugh really TURNS me OFF.

Turn up

Increase the (volume, brightness, etc)

Please TURN UP the telly I can’t hear it.

Turn around

Change direction

I need to put on my new jeans, could you please TURN AROUND so that I can have a moment of privacy.

Warm up

a. Get warm after being cold

b. Prepare for exercise or performance

  1. Turn up the heating we need to WARM UP the house.
  2. It is very important to WARM UP properly before exercising.

Work out

a. Figure something out / Begin to understand

b. An exercise session

  1. I need to WORK OUT how to get my wardrobe to my new flat. 
  2. I had a great WORK OUT this morning at the gym.

Let’s round up today’s lesson

It’s important to reiterate that there are a lot of phrasal verbs and learning them in one go is not going to serve you well.  So take them as they come and try to remember them in their context.  

Don’t forget, by engaging all of your senses, you’re likely to remember more.   So do watch the video version of this lesson below or over on the English Like a Native YouTube channel where there are lots more videos on phrasal verbs.  

You can also download the lesson notes to review and scribble over to help you swat up on your phrasal verbs.


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