English Phrasal Verbs for Communication

Learn important phrasal verbs for English learners

“Thinking and Learning” Phrasal Verbs

1. Brush up (on)

Meaning: Practice and improve your skills or knowledge of something

E.g: I must brush up on my Spanish before I go to Seville.

2. Come (a)round (to)

Meaning: Change your opinion or decision because someone has persuaded you to agree with them

E.g: He’ll never come round to our way of thinking.

3. Come up with

Meaning: Think of something such as an idea or a plan

E.g: She came up with a new idea for increasing sales.

4. Read up (on/about)

Meaning: Get information on a particular subject by reading a lot about it

E.g: I’ll need to read up on the case before the meeting.

5. Swot up (on)

Meaning: Study something very hard, especially for an examination

E.g: Make sure you swot up on the company before the interview.

6. Think up

Meaning: Invent or imagine something, especially an excuse

E.g: Can’t you think up a better excuse than that?


English Phrasal Verbs for Communication 1

Common Phrasal Verbs Related to Family

1. Get along/on with

Meaning: Have a good, friendly relationship with sb

E.g: I get along well with most of my colleagues.

2. Get together

Meaning: Spend time together

E.g: The whole family usually gets together at Christmas.

3. Go by

Meaning: Prefer to be called by a particular name

E.g: When I knew her, she used to go by the name of Ricki.

4. Grow apart

Meaning: Stop having a close relationship with somebody over a period of time

E.g: As we got older we just grew apart.

5. Split up

Meaning: End a marriage relationship

E.g: Her parents split up a few months ago.

6. Make up

Meaning: Become friendly with someone again after an argument

E.g: Why don’t you two forget your differences and make up?

English Phrasal Verbs for Communication 2


Phrasal Verbs about CLOTHES

1. Do up

Meaning: Fasten an item of clothing

E.g: You don’t need to do up the top button.

2. Dress up

Meaning: Dress (oneself or another) in your best clothes

E.g: You don’t need to dress up. It’s just a family get-together.

3. Dress up

Meaning: Put on fancy dress in children’s games

E.g: For her birthday party, they had dressed her up as a fairy.

4. Throw on

Meaning: Put on a piece of clothing quickly and carelessly

E.g: She just threw on the first skirt she found.

5. Turn up

Meaning: Shorten trousers, a dress or a skirt so that they fit better

E.g: Her jeans were too long, so she turned them up.

6. Wrap up

Meaning: Put warm clothes on

E.g: I could hear my mother telling me to wrap up warm.

7. Zip up

Meaning: To be closed by means of a zip

E.g: He zipped up his leather jacket.

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“Animals” Phrasal Verbs

1. fish for

Meaning: To ask for or try to get something in an indirect way

E.g: It’s sickening the way he’s always fishing for compliments.

2. pig out

Meaning: To eat a lot of food at once

E.g: I found Sam in front of the TV, pigging out on pizza and fries.

3. wolf down

Meaning: To eat very quickly

E.g: Jim changed quickly, took out some clothes for the next morning, then wolfed down his dinner.

4. horse around

Meaning: To play roughly

E.g: Stop horsing around – you’ll break something!

5. duck out

Meaning: To leave quickly and unannounced

E.g: I’ll duck out to get something to eat and be right back.

6. beaver away

Meaning: To work very hard, especially at writing or calculating something

E.g: He’s been beavering away at his homework for hours.


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Phrasal Verbs around the House

1. take out the trash

Meaning: Remove trash from the house

E.g: I take out the trash daily.

2. throw (something) away

Meaning: Put something into the trash can/ to discard

E.g: She always throws away waste in the trash can.

3. clean up/ tidy up

Meaning: Remove the dirt, stains, and unwanted materials

E.g: We spent all Saturday morning cleaning up.

4. take down (a picture)

Meaning: Remove (a picture or object) from the wall

E.g: She made us take down all the posters.

5. mop (something) up

Meaning: Use a mop (towel or sponge) to remove liquid from the floor

E.g: Mop the sauce up with your bread.

6. turn on (the lamp/ TV/ …)

Meaning: Give (lamp/ TV/ …) power to start

E.g: Do you want me to turn the lights on?

7. turn off (the lamp/ TV/ …)

Meaning: Cause the power of (lamp/ TV/ …) to stop

E.g: Don’t forget to turn off the oven.

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Useful Phrasal Verbs Related to Sleep

1. wake up

Meaning: stop sleeping, or make someone stop sleeping

E.g: James usually wakes up early.

2. get up

Meaning: get out of your bed after sleeping, or make someone get out of their bed

E.g: We didn’t get up until lunchtime.

3. lie down

Meaning: rest on your back

E.g: Towards evening she grew tired, and went to her room for a lie down.

4. sleep in

Meaning: let yourself sleep later than usual in the morning

E.g: We usually sleep in on Sunday mornings.

5. go off

Meaning: go to sleep

E.g: I’d just gone off to sleep when the phone rang.

6. doze off

Meaning: go to sleep, especially when you did not intend to

E.g: Sorry, I must have dozed off for a few minutes.

7. nod off

Meaning: begin to sleep, usually when you do not intend to and are sitting somewhere

E.g: I missed the movie because I kept nodding off.

8. lie in

Meaning: remain in bed in the morning for longer than usual

E.g: The family had a lie in on Saturdays.

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Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English

Phrasal verb is the name given to an English verb which is composed of two or three words.

Phrasal verbs: Environment

1. wipe outdestroy something completely

Whole villages were wiped out by the floods.

2. break downdecompose, when something slowly reduces to its smallest parts

Plastics do not break down quickly. It takes hundreds of year for a plastic bottle to decompose.

3. scale backreduce the amount or size of something

The country has scaled back its use of fossil fuels and has started investing in renewable energy.

4. use upfinish a supply of something

I worry that we will use up the world’s non-renewable resources.

5. freeze overbecome frozen

The lake has frozen over.

6. chop downmake a tree fall down by cutting it with a sharp tool

Large areas of rainforest are being chopped down every day.


Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English 7

Phrasal Verbs: Health

1. break outstart suddenly

I’ve broken out in a rash.

2. fight offfree yourself from an illness

Elaine’s fighting off a cold.

3. come tobecome conscious

Has he come to yet?

4. get overrecover from something

It’s taken me ages to get over the flu.

5. come down withbecome sick

I think I’m coming down with a cold.

6. throw upbe sick, vomit

Georgia was bent over the basin, throwing up.


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Phrasal Verbs for Business

1. Branch outExpand or extend one’s interests

The supermarkets have branched out into banking.

2. Break intoEnter (with effort or force)

It’s always been his ambition to break into broadcasting.

3. Carry onContinue

He moved to New York to carry on his work

4. Back upMake a copy of information

It’s a good idea to back up your files onto a memory stick.

5. Carry outDo and complete a task

The building work was carried out by a local contractor.

6. Find outDiscover a fact or piece of information

Can you find out what our customers think of their local bus service?

7. Call offCancel something

With the weather worsening, they have called off their field trip.

8. Drop inMake a short visit somewhere

I will drop in tomorrow morning.

9. Fill outComplete (a form)

It took me several hours to fill out the application form.

10. Bail outTo rescue somebody from a difficult situation, especially financial problems

Some local businesses have offered to bail out the museum.

Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English 9

Phrasal Verbs about Food and Cooking

1. Bake offFinish baking partly baked food

She baked off the cakes in the oven.

2. Boil awayCause liquid to evaporate completely by boiling

The soup’s almost boiled away.

3. Boil overCause liquid to rise and flow over the side of the container

The milk was boiling over on the stove behind her.

4. Bolt downEat a large amount of food very quickly

She bolted down her lunch and rushed back to work.

5. Cut upCut something into small pieces

He cut the pie up into little pieces.

6. Eat outEat in a restaurant instead of at home

Do you feel like eating out tonight?

7. Slice offCut something from a larger piece

She sliced off a piece of sausage.

8. Whip upQuickly make a meal or something to eat

She whipped up a delicious lunch for us in 15 minutes.

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Travel Phrasal Verbs

1. Check outLeave the hotel after paying

We checked out at noon.

2. Set offStart a journey

We set off for Paris just after ten.

3. Get inArrive (train, plane)

The train got in late.

4. Take offWhen a plane departs or leaves the ground

The plane took off an hour late.

5. Check inArrive and register at a hotel or airport

Please check in at least an hour before departure.

6. Get offLeave a bus, train, plane

We get off at the next station.


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Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English 12