What students of English need to be aware of is that phrasal verbs are not literal, their meaning depends on context. Look after does not mean see or watch after. For example, it means take care of. Find out is not literal, it actually means discover some information.

The most usual method to introduce phrasal verbs into speech or writing is through substitution. You take a word, LIKE for example and put it into a sentence, “I like reading books about dinosaurs”. Then you take the term LIKE and replace it with the phrasal verb that you want to use, “I AM INTO reading books about dinosaurs”. This way the student begins to incorporate simple phrasal verbs into their language use. A great way to practice this skill is by learning how to match phrasal verbs with their synonyms. Find out = discover information, look after = take care of. Language learners must practice exercises such as matching phrasal verbs with their synonyms, antonyms and similar expressions.

The next step is by making sure that students use phrasal verbs consistently, what they need to do is make sure that they use them in context and assimilate them. They must use them often to consolidate their meaning. What students must be careful of is that they do not change the context too much or the meaning could change. For example GET BY can mean, survive with the minimum amount of money necessary or know how to use a little bit of a language.

 

Separate phrasal verbs

In English we have separable and inseparable phrasal verbs.

Separable phrasal verbs can have an object in between the verb and the preposition = I took him away on holiday.

Inseparable phrasal verbs have an object after ONLY = I usually look after my daughter on Saturday evening so her mum can go out for a drink

 

List of phrasal verbs and examples: Download this list in PDF HERE

  • Ask out (invite to go out) I am going to ask Inés out this evening
  • Back down (stop demanding) He wanted $5000, but he backed down to my demands
  • Be into (like) I am into learning languages in my free time
  • Be on (be one´s turn) We had better get ready as we are on at 10pm
  • Be up for (fancy) Are you up for a beer later?
  • Be up to (do) What are you up to later today?
  • Beat up (hurt) We were beaten up by the nasty man
  • Blend in (fit) It is difficult to blend in when abroad?
  • Blurt out (say without thinking) I didn´t think and just blurted it out
  • Bottle up (contain one´s emotions) It is not healthy to bottle up your anger
  • Break up with (end a relationship) I broke up with him because he was annoying
  • Bring up (raise)I want to bring up my children to be balanced individuals
  • Brush up on (review) I should brush up on my listening skills
  • Bump into (see by coincidence) I bumped into my ex yesterday at a party
  • Button up (fasten with buttons) I am buttoning up my jeans
  • Call off (cancel) I want to call off the whole event
  • Call out (grab attention) He called out to me so that I would see him
  • Calm down (relax) We need to calm down and focus
  • Carry off (look good) It is a trendy jacket and i can carry it off well
  • Carry on (continue) We should carry on working before the boss shouts at us
  • Carry out (finish) I am carrying out a survey about people´s habits
  • Cash in on (sell) I have cashed in on my gold reserves
  • Catch up with (reach) It would be great to catch up with you
  • Chat up (flirt with) I love chatting up girls in bars
  • Cheat on (have an affair) I would never cheat on my wife
  • Check out (have a look at) Have you checked out the new Bond film?
  • Check out (leave) We must check out before 11am
  • Cheer up (make happier) Cheer up, it might never happen
  • Club together (join efforts) We need to club together to be successful
  • Come across (find coincidently) I came across a $50 note the other day
  • Come between (cause problems) His secretary came between him and his wife
  • Come down with (get ill) I think I am coming down with the flu
  • Come up with (think of) It is not easy to come up with an elegant solution
  • Crack down on (be strict) The police are cracking down on crime
  • Crack up (laugh) It was so funny that I just cracked up
  • Crack up  (get nervous) I always crack up when I do exams
  • Crop up (come up) I couldn´t find my phone, but then it just cropped up
  • Cut down on (reduce) I ought to cut down on sugar
  • Cut out (stop) I have cut out meat from my diet
  • Deal with (handle) It is not easy to deal with the pressure at work
  • Die out (become extinct) The black rhino has died out
  • Do away with (get rid of) I ought to do away with my old clothes
  • Do up (fasten) I need to do up my coat because it is cold
  • Drop off (leave in a place) Can I drop you off at about 10:30?
  • Drop out of (quit) My sister has dropped out of the course
  • End up (finish) What did you end up doing last night?
  • Face up to (accept) We need to face up to the consequences
  • Fall for (be in love) I have fallen for a girl at work
  • Fall out of (fall from within) She fell out of the car when she was drunk
  • Fall out with (argue with) I never fall out with my workmates
  • Fall over (fall to the ground) I fell over yesterday and cut my knee
  • Figure out (solve) It is not an easy one to figure out
  • Find out (discover) Have you found out where the meeting is?
  • Get along with (be on good terms) I get along with everyone
  • Get around (move) It is easy to get around my city on foot
  • Get (a)round to (finally do) I will fix the phone when I can get around to it
  • Get at (suggest) What are you getting at?
  • Get by (survive) I can get by in Spanish and German?
  • Get into (start liking) I have got into playing golf recently
  • Get on with (be on good terms) Who do you get on with best?
  • Get out of (avoid) Luckily I got out of doing overtime this week
  • Get rid of (throw away) I want to get rid of my skateboard
  • Get together (gather) I love getting together with friends
  • Get up to (start doing) What do you normally get up to at weekends?
  • Give off (emit) The car is giving off lots of dark smoke
  • Go for (choose) I will go for the cheese board, I think
  • Go off (lose interest in) I have gone off playing the guitar
  • Go out (leave the house) Do you fancy going out later?
  • Go out with (be in a relationship with) I am going out with Inés
  • Grow on (start to like) These shoes are really growing on me
  • Grow up (get older) I will be a teacher when I grow up
  • Hang on (wait) Can you hang on for a moment?
  • Hang out with (spend time with) I enjoy hanging out with Oliver and James
  • Head for (go in the direction of) I had better head for bed
  • Hold up (delay) The traffic held us up for over an hour
  • Hurry up (rush) We ought to hurry up to finish on time
  • Join in (participate) Would you like to join in?
  • Keep on (continue) We must keep on revising for the exam?
  • Kick off (start) What time does the match kick off?
  • Knock off (stop doing) Should we knock off at 8?
  • Knock off (falsify) The criminals have knocked off a load of T-shirts
  • Knock out (leave unconscious) I was knocked out during the rugby match
  • Knock out (eliminate) We were knocked out of the competition in the semis
  • Knuckle down (work on) Let´s knuckle down and get some work done
  • Lay down (explain a plan) Are you yawning while I am laying it down?
  • Lay out (plan) We must lay out a detailed plan
  • Let down (disappoint) I have let down the whole team
  • Let off (not be punished) The thief was let off by the judge
  • Let on (give the impression of) I didn´t want to go so I let on that I was sick
  • Lock up (put in prison) We are going to be locked up for fraud
  • Look after (care for) I love looking after my kids
  • Look down on (think badly of) I never look down on other people
  • Look forward to (be excited about) Are you looking forward to the competition?
  • Look into (investigate) The police are looking into the crime
  • Look up to (admire) I look up to my father
  • Make for (go in the direction of) I am making for the bank
  • Make up (invent) Did you make that story up?
  • Meet up (get together) Let´s meet up next week to talk about it
  • Mess around (waste time) We should stop messing around
  • Mix up (confuse) I am sorry for missing the meeting, I had mixed up the dates
  • Mull over (consider) We ought to mull over the job offer
  • Open up to (reveal information) My wife opened up to me about her true feelings
  • Opt out of (decide not) In the end we opted out of the agreement
  • Pass away (die) My grandpa passed away last year
  • Pass on (give to the next) Can you pass on a message for me?
  • Pass up on (reject) They passed up on the job as they had a better offer
  • Pick on (tease) The bigger boys were picking on me
  • Pass out (faint) I passed out after my workout because of the heat
  • Pick up (collect) Can you pick up your jacket please?
  • Pick up (learn without effort) I picked up a lot of German while I was in Germany
  • Play up (cause problems) My computer is playing up recently
  • Press on (continue working) We had better press on with the project
  • Pull through (survive) The patients have all pulled through the operations
  • Put off (postpone) The match was put off until next week
  • Put on (wear) I am going to put on my shoes
  • Put on (pretend) Get up, I know you are putting it on and not really injured
  • Put up with (tolerate) It is hard to put up with his behaviour
  • Puzzle out (confuse) We were puzzled out by the whole situation
  • Ring up (call) I didn´t know the recipe so I rang up my mother
  • Run into (see coincidently) I ran into my old boss in the supermarket
  • Run out of (not have any left) We have run out of beer again
  • Run over (hit with a car) I ran over the squirrel accidentally
  • See off (say goodbye to) I took my sister to the airport to see her off
  • Sell out of (sell all) We have sold out of copies of the best-selling book
  • Set off (start a trip) What time shall we set off tomorrow?
  • Set up (start a business) I want to set up a business
  • Shut down (close) The shop that I work in will shut down next week
  • Sign up for (join) Are you going to sign up for the course?
  • Snow under (make busy) I have been snowed under at work
  • Split up (end a relationship) Emma and I have split up
  • Spring up (appear suddenly) We should save in case anything unexpected springs up
  • Stand for (tolerate) I will not stand for this type of behaviour
  • Stand in for (substitute) Can you stand in for me at work tomorrow?
  • Stand out (be different) I am simply the best and I stand out at work
  • Stand up for (protect) We must stand up for animal rights organisations
  • Stay up (not sleep) I stayed up all night writing this course
  • Stick to (continue) If you want to learn a language, you need to stick to a routine
  • Swell up (become inflamed) My ankle has swollen up like a balloon
  • Take after (be similar to) I take after my dad a lot
  • Take off (leave the ground) The plane will take off in 20 minutes
  • Take off (be successful) My business is really starting to take off
  • Take on (hire) We are going to take on 3 new employees
  • Take out (withdraw) Honey, can you take out the trash?
  • Take over (assume control of) Our company will take over the closest competitor
  • Take to (improve) I am really taking to storytelling
  • Take up (start doing) Do you want to take up a new hobby?
  • Tell off (yell at) My teacher told off the whole class
  • Tell on (grass on) I am going to tell on you
  • Tide over (provide for) We have enough cash to tide us over for a few months
  • Tip off (grass) The informant has tipped off the police
  • Turn down (reject) I have turned down the job offer
  • Wear out (tire/exhaust) I wore myself out at the gym earlier
  • Wind down (relax) We need to wind down and have a rest
  • Wind up (annoy) Can you stop that? You are winding me up
  • Work on (dedicate time to) I ought to work on my project this weekend
  • Work out (exercise) I work out on a daily basis
  • Work out (solve) Have you worked out the solution to the problem yet?
  • Wrap up (keep warm) You should wrap up and put on a scarf and gloves
  • Zip up (fasten with a zip) I need to zip up my coat yo keep warm
  • Zone out (be in the clouds) Sorry, I just zoned out for a bit
  • Zoom out (move the shot away) You should zoom the image out a bit

 

Download this list in PDF HERE

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