Phrasal Verb

Phrasal Verb:

A phrasal verb is a combination of a short verb and a preposition or an adverb(or both). This combination together makes a completely different meaning from their individual meaning separately.

For example:

  • The Oscar for the best male actor(2019) was carried off by Rami Malek.
  • Alita is behind with her paperwork. She must catch up on it.

In the above two sentences, the words in italics (‘carried off’ & ‘catch up’) are phrasal verbs. ‘Carry off’ as a phrasal verb means ‘win a prize’ or ‘to succeed in doing something difficult’ which is different from the meaning of the words taken separately(‘carry’ and ‘off’). Here in the example carry off means ‘win a prize’.

In the second example, ‘catch up’ is a phrasal verb which means ‘to succeed in reaching a person who is ahead’ or ‘to do a task which one should do earlier’. The second meaning is correct in this context. Similar to the first example the phrasal verb of the second sentence ‘catch up’ has a different meaning if we take the words separately(‘catch’ and ‘up’).

Structure of Phrasal verb:

1. Verb + Adverb particle:

Small adverbs such as about, across, ahead, on, over, etc are known as adverb particle. Many verbs followed by adverb particles form phrasal verbs.

Mostly used adverb particles: about, across, ahead, along, around, aside, away, back, by, down, forward, in, from, off, out, over, past, though, up, etc. Some of these can also act as a preposition.


  • Dev walked out.
  • Jacob switched off the lights.

2. Verb + Preposition:

Similar to the other phrasal verbs ‘verb + preposition’ also has a different meaning from their individual meanings.

Read the following example:

  • Could you look after my son while I am out in the garden?
  • The vacation will help her get over her grandmother’s death.

3. Verb + preposition + particle:

Both preposition and particle can be used with verbs to form phrasal verbs.

Consider the following examples:

  • Leo is too tired to put up with any nonsense.
  • We look forward to the new project.
  • They should get on with the current task.

Transitive and Intransitive Phrasal Verb:

Just like the simple verb, phrasal verb also acts as either transitive or intransitive.

1. Transitive Phrasal verb:

The transitive phrasal verb takes an object with it.

For example:

  • Jacob switched off the lights. (‘switch off’ took the object ‘lights’)
  • Harold really looks up to Elon Musk.

2. Intransitive Phrasal verb:

This type of phrasal verb does not take objects with them.

For example:

  • James grew up in New York.
  • The matter will blow over within a week or two.

Separable and Inseparable phrasal verbs:

1. Separable Phrasal Verbs

Separable phrasal verbs can be separated by accepting words in between the verb and the preposition(or particle).

For example:

  • Jacob switched off the lights. Or Jacob switched the lights off.
  • Alisha turned down the sound. Or Alisha turned the sound down.

2. Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

These phrasal verbs can not be used separately in a sentence.

For example:

  • Harold really looks up to Elon Musk. (right)
    Harold really looks up Elon Musk to. (wrong)
  • So many young entrepreneurs are struggling to break through. (right)
    So many young entrepreneurs are to break struggling through. (wrong)
Phrasal verb structure
Phrasal verb structure

Word Order

In the case of transitive phrasal verbs, you should check the word order. There are a few cases you should keep in mind.

1. As with the separable phrasal verbs can take an object in between the verb and the particle.

For example:

  • Trish should give the job up. = Trish should give up the job.
  • Let me pick the books up. = Let me pick up the books.

2. If you use a pronoun instead of an object then you must keep the pronoun in between the verb and the particle.

For example:

  • Why would she give up this job? = Why would she give it up?
  • Will you pick up the books? = Will you pick them up?

Now, I will list some phrasal verbs and their meaning along with one example sentence for each of the phrasal verbs. You should take note that some phrasal verbs have two meaning so you should learn them both. Most of the time the meaning of a phrasal verb is clear by the context of the sentence but not always.

Following is a list of some phrasal verbs. There are some pictures also:

1. Account for: Give a satisfactory reason or explanation.
Morgan was brought before the disciplinary committee to account for his mischief.

2. Back out: Withdraw from a commitment.
Our class planned to go for a picnic but at last, our teacher backed out.

3. Bear out: Support or agree.
I thought all the board members would bear out my suggestion.

4. Bear with: To be patient or tolerant with.
I would like to thank all the residents of this village to bear with us and for supporting the solid waste management program.

5. Blow out: Extinguish due to air.
The candles had blown out before I closed the window.

6. Break through: get success in a particular area.
It is probably his best movie, with which he broke through with critical acclaim.

7.  Break into: To enter forcefully, especially for the purpose of theft.
Somebody broke into this apartment last week.

8. Blow up: Explode.
The balloon blew up due to excessive pressure.

9. Call for: Make necessary.
This situation calls for tough and focused decisions.

10. Call off: To cancel an agreement or an event.
The labor union called off the strike.

11. Carry on: Continue an activity or a task.
They will carry on with the task of building an efficient electric car regardless of the failures.

12. Catch up: To do a task that one should have done earlier.
I am struggling to catch up with the pending work.

13. Come across: To find something or to find someone by chance.
My fiance came across my childhood photos.

14. Come by: To obtain or find something.
The information about this artifact is hard to come by.

15. Chalk out: To sketch or plan something.
The police team has already chalked out a perfect strategy for conducting raids.

16. Crack on: To proceed or progress quickly, especially with more effort than before.
I will crack on with the rest of the work tomorrow.

17. Crack down on: To take severe measures against or to become stricter with.
The police has promised to crack down on eve-teasing.

18. Come of: To result from; be descended from.
Whatever comes of these efforts, I hope it will benefit me in some way.
Her paternal family comes of a long line of farmers.

19. Come off: Succeed or be effective; become detached; stop taking or being addicted to.
They did a bold experiment which did not come off.
A wheel came off the toy tractor and Timothy started to cry.
Tori thinks she will come off the pills.

19. Come over: To begin to affect.
When I looked at her, a very familiar feeling began to come over me.

20. Count on/upon: To rely on.
The event organizer is counting on his main performer.

Phrasal verbs image 1
Phrasal verbs image 1

21. Cut down: Use or do less; To cut a tree so it falls on the ground.
Emily cut down on coffee and started to eat fruits instead.
The forest guards arrested a person illegally cutting down a tree.

22. Cut out: If an engine cuts out, it stops working. ; To take a piece from a complete whole.
The driver told me that the engine just cut out.
Dory cut out the picture from the newspaper for your assignment.

23. Die down: To become less intense or quieter.
The hailstorm remained steady though the wind had died down.

24. Die out: To become less and less common and eventually disappear.
Yohan said, “How did dinosaurs die out?’

25. Dispose of: To get rid of something that is no longer wanted by throwing it away or giving away or selling to someone else.
The waste should be disposed of in an efficient manner so that it would not harm the environment.

26. Do away with: To put an end to or remove; To kill.
The long term goal must be to do away with pesticides altogether.
Dominic said that when he was suffering from depression he even thought of doing away with himself. But he is now totally recovered and has a good perspective on life.

27. Do for: To defeat, ruin or kill.
We should ask for his help otherwise we are done for.

28. Do without: Manage without; To prefer not to have.
The trekkers trained themselves in such a way so that they can do without water for 1 or 2 days.
She could do without your silly jokes.

29. Do up: To fasten something; To decorate or repair.
My brother nudged me and whispered: “Do up your shirt”.

30. Dress up: Dress in smart or formal clothes; Dress in a special costume for entertainment.
Your friend does not need to dress up for dinner.
Little girls dress up as angels for the play.

31. Drop in: To visit someone informally, usually without having arranged it.
Dia spends most of the dropping in on her friends in New Delhi.

32. Drop off: Fall asleep or go to sleep; To become less.
Once Jenny had the bed made, she quickly dropped off to sleep.
Sales of the company for June are expected to drop off.

33. End up: To come or reach a condition, place, or situation that was not expected or planned.
The novel I wanted to read was out of stock so I ended up buying a different book.

34. Fall back: Move back or retreat.
During the rehearsal, Veronica fell back in embarrassment when she forgot her dialogue.

35. Fall back on: To do or use something after other things have failed.
Elon has adequate savings to fall back on until his business start generating income.

36. Figure out: Discover or understand(or solve) the cause of a problem.
Maria was trying to figure out why her smartphone was not functioning.

37. Fall off: Get separated or decrease.
You should have warned him when you saw the antenna was about to fall off from the pole.

A number of employees have fallen off recently due to low salary.

38. Fall in with: To agree; To meet someone or something by chance and get involved with.
Selena did not fall in with my plans.
The child in the movie fell in with the wrong people and turn to dishonesty.

39. Fall through: Fail to happen.
The project fell through due to lack of funds.

40. Follow up: To try to find out more about something or do something about it.
The local police are following up several leads in the bank robbery case.

Phrasal verbs image 2
Phrasal verbs image 2

41. Get round to: To do a task in a due course.
I purchased this book last year and supposed to read it, but never really got time to get round to it.

42. Get away with: To escape undesirable consequences(blame or punishment) for a wrong or mistaken act.
Harry thinks he can get away with cheating me.

43. Get by: Manage to live or do something, with what somebody has.
The main character in the movie made just enough money to get by.

44. Get on: Progress.
Every hour the supervisor visits the site to check how the employees were getting on.

45. Get along: To have a friendly relationship.
Ron and Harry seem to get along well.

46. Get over: Recover; overcome a difficult.
This Novel will help Jennifer get over her recent failure.
She has gotten over her stage fear.

47. Get rid of: Take action to be free of something or someone.
How can we get rid of these pests without the use of chemicals?

48. Give up: To stop having or doing something; Admit defeat.
Dona never gave up the hope of meeting her dad.

49. Give in: Stop fighting or arguing.
I will not give in to the temptation of sugar.
50. Grow apart: A relationship to gradually become weak(due to the difference in opinions or interest etc).
Charlie and his wife grew apart over the last few years.

51. Grow out of: To become too large to wear a garment; To stop behaving in a particular way or to having an interest.
Her child is growing at a healthy rate and keeps growing out of his clothes every 6 months.
Children grow out of stammer by the time they are four.

52. Grow up: Become an adult; begin to think and behave sensibly.
Mahershala Ali grew up in the USA.

53. Go on: To continue or to persevere; happen
I will oversee your work so don’t worry and go on with your work.
He looked at the CCTV display and noticed that something was going on at the cash counter.

54. Go through: To experience a difficult period; Read or check something.
Our family is going through an emotionally unstable period.
Going through the list of books to pick one specific book at this messy library is a massive job.

55. Hand in: To submit.
The notice says that the last date to hand in the project is 29 March.

56. Hand out: To distribute; To give.
One of your jobs is to hand out the books.

57. Hand over: To pass/give something or someone.
Don Corleone was ready to hand over the responsibility to Michael.

58. Hang out: To hang clothes on a clothesline to dry; To spend time at a particular place.
I hang out my clothes on the balcony.
We usually hang out at a nearby park.

59. Hang around/ hang about/ hang round: Wait; associate with someone.
They always hang around in bars.
Jason never hangs around with that group.

60. Head off: To come in front of someone/something to capture it or to change its direction; To take action to prevent some unpleasant event from happening.
They knowingly kept an obstacle in the route so that the participant would head off.
David asked his father to give some advice to Susan so that his sister could head off the divorce.

Phrasal verbs image 3
Phrasal verbs image 3

61. Hold on: To wait or stop; Endure a harsh situation.
Hold on a second, I will call Josh.
There was a research on how people hold on during a difficult time.

62. Join in: To take part in or become involved in an activity.
He started to push the rock and I joined in.

63. Jump at: Accept an opportunity or an offer gladly.
Johnson would jump at the chance of a career in Basketball.

64. Keep from or keep someone from: Avoid doing something or cause someone to avoid.
Breathing problem kept Rakesh from mountain trekking.

65. Keep off: Remain at a distance or avoid encroaching on(or touching)
The gardener told children to keep off the wild bushes at the corner of the garden.

66. Keep on: Continue to do something.
When Jack was younger, his brother kept on telling him to exercise daily.

67. Keep up: To maintain.
They risk losing their apartment because they can not keep up the rent.

68. Keep up with: Be aware of recent events.
The boss thinks that Jeremy is not keeping up with the latest amendments to our policy.

69. Lay off: stop doing something.
Gerard laid off drinking for 3 years.

70. Let down: To disappoint someone; To lower down something.
Don’t worry grandma Denis will not let us down.
The fighter jet is letting down after a test flight.

71. Look after: Take care of.
John works in his studio in the morning and looks after his children in the day.

72. Look out: To be aware and take notice.
The highway is under repair so look out for the signs of caution.

73. Look up to: Have respect for someone.
Robin is a fearless leader and many young boys and girls look up to him.

74. Look down on: To consider a person to be unimportant or inferior.
When I was not a successful person some people used to look down on me.

75. Look back on/at: Think of past events.
You can look back on the last two years and learn from your mistakes.

76. Look forward to: Wait eagerly.
Lili was looking forward to collaborating with Fatima.

78. Lie in: To stay in bed for later than usual in the morning.
Tomorrow is Sunday so I will lie in and get up at 7 am.

79. Make up: To end a quarrel and reconcile.
Tonny teaches how to make up with your sweetheart after an argument.

80. Make over: To legally transfer the ownership to someone.
Karl made over his property between his two sons.

Phrasal verbs image 4
Phrasal verbs image 4

81. Make up one’s mind: To decide.
I have made my mind to exercise regularly.

82. Mess up: To fail or spoil.
Moni messed up the whole surprise plan.

83. Move on: To leave a place and go somewhere else; To complete or stop an activity and begin a new activity.
Her son moved on from New Delhi to Mumbai.
The professor asked the participants to move on to a new topic for discussion.

84. Make up for: To compensate for.
Tell me what can I do for you to make up for the stress you had to bear due to me.

85. Nod off: Fall asleep(unintentionally).
The watchman admitted that he nodded off at 2 am for 5 minutes.

86. Pass away/on: To die.
My grandfather Patrick passed away in his sleep.

87. Pass off: Completion of an event without any trouble(or in a satisfactory way).
The main part of the show passed off peacefully.

88. Pass out: To become unconscious; To complete one’s training in armed forces.
We brought him directly to the hospital because he passed out while we were training in the field.
After passing out his initial 40 days training he will now join the commando training.

89. Pencil in: To agree that some event or appointment will take place at a particular time.
The manager announced in the meeting that the business trip is penciled in for the following week.

90. Pull off: To succeed in achieving something very difficult; To stop the vehicle by the side of the road.
The squad team pulled off a rescue operation last night in the troubled village.
The army convoy pulled off the road to check their vehicles.

91. Pull over: To move the vehicle to the side of the road and stop there.
I asked the driver to pull over at the lake so that I can take some pictures.

92. Play down: To try to make people believe that something is not important.
Walter plays down the rumours that he wants to become an actor.

93. Put up with: Tolerate or endure.
We have been putting up with the problem since January.

94. Run after: Seek to attain.
You should focus on your skills in music instead of running after a rockstar lifestyle.

95. Run down: To criticize someone or something strongly.
Her dad ran down on the product he purchased online.

96. Run into: To expectedly meet a person, face a situation or collide with something.
I ran into Monica in the city library and she looked so pretty.

97. See off: To accompany someone who is leaving to their point of departure.
I will see her off at the airport in the evening.

98. See through: To detect the true nature of someone or something.
You are not interested in doing this job I can see through you

99. Set off: To start something.
The school picnic set off in a minibus.

100. Set up: To build, arrange, or create something.
The two parties agreed to set up a special team to solve the matter.

Phrasal verbs image 5
Phrasal verbs image 5

101. Settle down: To start living a life in one place(especially after marriage).
His dream is to settle down with his girlfriend and have a family.

102. Show up: Clearly seen or noticed; To arrive at an occasion.
There have been more incidents of road accidents showing up the lack of responsibility from both the public and the highway authorities.
He was sick for a week so he showed up late at the meeting.

103. Sleep in: To stay in bed for longer than the usual routine.
My parents sleep in on Sunday mornings because I don’t have to go to school.

104. Stand by: Help or support someone, typically in the time of need.
Johnny stood by Leo during his initial years in the new city.

105. Stick up for: To defend or support a person or a cause.
Jonah said that he can stick up for himself.

106. Take up: To spend time doing an activity; To occupy.
Jackie wants to take up competitive sports.
I didn’t mean to take up your valuable time.

107. Take over: To take control or responsibility for something.
Our troopers have taken over the first targeted place.

108. Try on: To put on a piece of clothing and see if it fits or looks good.
The sales person suggested me to try on the jeans and see how it looks with the shoes.

109. Turn up: To discover, find or notice something; To arrive; To increase the level.
Some evidence turned up during this investigation.
The witness did not turn up in the court at the specified time.
The band member turned up the sound of the microphone.

110. Turn down: To reject; Decrease.
The gentleman thanked us for the offer but turned it down.
The internet speed turned down a number of times last week.

111. Watch out: Be careful.
They have to watch out because there are a number of small obstacles to distract them from the task.

112. Work out: To solve a problem or a mystery; To calculate a sum; Physical exercise.
That team took a few minutes to work out the treasure map.
Then they worked out the time it will take to reach the destination by foot.
This team has been working out two hours each day at the gym for the last 5 months.  

113. Work up: To make yourself upset or angry; To encourage yourself.
You lost the last match, so what, don’t work yourself up about it.

114. Wind up: to end up in a particular situation; To finish or stop an activity.
The couple wound up losing some money in the shooting game.
The governor winds up his speech with a promise.

As you may have already noticed that a phrasal verb may have more than one meaning. It is my suggestion to you to read as much as you can about phrasal verbs and also try to find out phrasal verbs in any written material.

You should also pay attention to the speeches made by any famous personality or dialogues in any form. Try to find out the phrasal verbs used in it.

In this way, you will get familiar with more and more phrasal verbs and you will understand them better.

You can write phrasal verbs, which you know, in the comment section.

Thanks for reading:)

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