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Phrasal Verbs Reference


Phrasal verbs are verbs that are made up of a main verb and followed by particle, usually prepositions. Most phrasal verbs are two or three words and can be quite challenging for English learners as they can be literal or figurative in meaning. In other words, sometimes it is easy to understand the meaning (such as "get up"), but in the case of figurative meanings can be quite confusing (such as "pick up"). Begin learning phrasal verbs with a limited list. The list below provides a good starting point for intermediate level English learners.

Teachers can use this introducing phrasal verbs lesson plan to help students become more familiar with phrasal verbs and start building phrasal verb vocabulary. Finally, there are a wide variety of phrasal verb resources on the site to help you learn new phrasal verbs and test your understanding with quizzes.

The following table is an alphabetical reference chart of the most commonly used English phrasal verbs with following explanations. You should remember that native speakers of English tend to use phrasal verbs in everyday conversation and generally reserve one-word verbs (i.e. "investigate" instead of "look into") for more formal occasions such as business letters etc.

Please note that all phrasal verbs marked by an asterisk (*) are NON-separable verbs (i.e. the preposition MUST follow the main verb. For example: I called on Dan NOT I called Dan on!). Verbs that are not marked by an asterisk (*) are separable verbs (i.e. the preposition may or may not follow the main verb. For example: I brought the children up OR I brought up the children).


Remember that separable phrasal verbs using a pronoun as the object of the verb MUST be separated (I brought them up NOT I brought up them)

Ask out
Ask someone to go on a date
Bring about

Bring up
1) rear children 2) mention or introduce a topic
Call back
Return a telephone call

Call in
Ask to come to an official place for a special reason

Call off

Call on*
1) visit 2) ask a student a question in class

Call up
Call on the telephone

Catch up (with)*
Reach the same position or level as someone

Check in*
Register at a hotel

Check into*

Check out
1) borrow a book from a library 2) investigate

Cheer up
Make (someone) feel happier

Clean up
Make clean and orderly

Come across*
Find by chance

Cross out
Draw a line through

Cut out
Stop an annoying activity
Do over

Drop by*
Visit informally

Drop in (on)*
Visit informally

Drop off
Leave something/someone somewhere

Drop out (of)*
Stop going to school or class
Figure out
Find the answer by logic

Fill out
Complete a form

Find out
Discover information

Get along (with)*
To have a good relationship with

Get back (from)
1) return from somewhere 2) receive again

Get in, get into*
1) enter a car 2) arrive

Get off*
Leave any vehicle

Get on*
Enter any vehicle

Get out of*
1) leave a car 2) avoid some unpleasant activity

Get over*
Recover from an illness

Get through*

Get up*
Arise from bed, a chair etc.

Give back
Return something to someone

Give up
Stop doing something

Go over*
Review or check

Grow up*
Become an adult
Hand in
Submit an assignment

Hang up
1) Stop a telephone conversation 2) put up clothes on a line or a hook

Have on
Keep out (of)
Not enter

Keep up (with)*
Stay at the same position or level

Kick out (of)
Force (someone) to leave
Look after*
Take care of

Look into*

Look out (for)*
Be careful

Look over
Review or check

Look up
Look for information in a reference book
Make up
1) invent 2) do past work
Name after
Give a baby the name of someone else
Pass away*

Pass out
1) distribute 2) lose consciousness

Pick out

Pick up
1) go to get someone 2) take in one's hand

Point out
Call someone's attention to

Put away
Remove to an appropriate place

Put back
Return to original position

Put off

Put on

Put out
Extinguish a cigarette, fire

Put up with*
Run into
Meet by chance

Run across
Find by chance

Run out (of)
Finish a supply of something
Show up*
Appear, come to

Shut off
Stop a machine, equipment, light etc.
Take after*

Take off
1) remove clothing 2) leave on a trip 3) leave the ground (aeroplane)

Take out
1) take someone on a date 2) remove

Take over
Take control

Take up
Begin a new activity

Tear down
Demolish, reduce to nothing

Tear up
Tear into many little pieces

Think over

Throw away
Discard; get rid of

Throw out
Discard; get rid of

Throw up

Try on
Put on clothing to see if it fits

Turn down
Decrease volume

Turn in
1) submit classwork 2) go to bed

Turn off
Stop a machine, equipment, light etc.

Turn on
Start a machine, equipment, light etc.

Turn out
Extinguish a light

Turn up
Increase volume or intensity

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