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?

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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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100+ of the Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English (With Meaning & Examples)

Phrasal verbs are an important part of learning the English language. Use this list when you don’t understand what the phrasal verbs means.

100+ of the Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English (With Meaning & Examples) 7

100+ of the Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English (With Meaning & Examples) 8

Useful English Phrasal Verbs with “BE”

1. Be afterTry to find or get

E.g. The police are after him because of the theft.

2. Be alongArrive

E.g. The next bus should be along in the next quarter of an hour or so.

3. Be awayBe elsewhere; on holiday,…

E.g. She‘s away on business for three weeks.

4. Be down onHave negative feelings toward someone

E.g. After the argument, James is down on his boss.

5. Be down withBe ill

E.g. I didn’t go to work because I was down with the flu.

6. Be fed upBe bored, upset or sick of something

E.g. I am fed up of his complaints.

7. Be inBe at home or at work

E.g. They are never in; I always get their answerphone.

8. Be inBe submitted, arrive

E.g. The application form must be in by 3pm on Friday.

9. Be in onBe involved in

E.g. Susan was the only one who wasn’t in on the plan.

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Phrasal Verbs with “UP”

1. Blow upExplode

E.g. The car blew up after it crashed into the wall.

2. Build upIncrease in amount, size or intensity

E.g. We have built up the business over the years and it now employs over 20 people.

3. Burn upHave a high temperature

E.g. You’re burning up—have you seen a doctor?

4. Call upTelephone

E.g. I’m going to call up and cancel my subscription.

5. Check upTo make sure that somebody is doing what they should be doing

E.g. My mother is always checking up on me.

6. Come upHappen unexpectedly

E.g. I’m afraid I can’t make the meeting tomorrow. Something has come up.

7. Divide upDistribute

E.g. We can divide up the commission among the sales staff.

8. Drive upForce up the prices or costs

E.g. The uncertainty in the markets is driving up labour costs.

9. Do upFasten up

E.g. Do you know how to do up your seat belt?

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Phrasal Verbs with BREAK

1. Break offTo stop (temporarily)

E.g. He broke off in the middle of a sentence.

2. Break offTo become separate

E.g. The back section of the train had broken off.

3. Break outTo begin suddenly (of war, fire, conflict, etc.)

E.g. They’re worried that war will break out.

4. Break throughTo successfully deal with smt that is stopping you making progress

E.g. She attempts to break through prejudice in the workplace.

5. Break upBreak into many pieces

E.g. The cup broke up when he dropped it on the floor.

6. Break out in“Sweat heavily, develop skin sores or irritation”

E.g. The measles caused me to break out in a rash.

7. Break out ofEscape

E.g. Two dangerous prisoners broke out of Dark Prison last night.

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English Phrasal Verbs with “OUT”

1. Act outPerform something with actions and gestures

E.g. They acted out the story on stage.

2. Act outExpress an emotion in your behaviour

E.g. Their anger is acted out in their antisocial behaviour.

3. Back out ofNot keep an agreement / arrangement

E.g. We’re hoping that no one will back out of the deal.

4. Check outLeave a hotel

E.g. Joan had already checked out of the hotel.

5. Cut outRemove completely

E.g. He’s cut out all the fat from his diet and he’s a lot slimmer.

6. Draw outTo persuade someone to express their thoughts

E.g. Can you draw out the plans?

7. Find outDiscover some information

E.g. Did she find out about the party?

8. Hand outDistribute, to give, pass out

E.g. The teacher handed out the English books to the students.

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Phrasal Verbs with “OVER”

1. Carry overTo transport over by carrying

E.g. We carried this house model over the bridge.

2. Carry overTo transfer (something) to a later point in time

E.g. The rent was carried over to December.

3. Change overTo make a transition from one system to another

E.g. The farm has changed over to organic methods.

4. Fall overTo stop working suddenly

E.g. My computer keeps falling over.

5. Hand overGive something to somebody with your hands

E.g. The captured thief was ordered to hand over his gun.

6. Make overTo convert to a different use

E.g. We’re going to make over the garage into a guest suite.

7. Pass overTo by pass or skip (something)

E.g. They chose to pass over her rude remarks.

8. Pull overDrive to the side of the road and stop your car

E.g. When she noticed the police car behind her, she pulled over.

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Phrasal Verbs with ‘FALL’ in English

1. Fall aboutLaugh so much that one’s entire body moves somewhat uncontrollably

E.g. Every time he performed the trick people would fall about laughing.

2. Fall apartDisintegrate

E.g. My old briefcase is falling apart. I’ll have to buy a new one.

3. Fall awayCease to support a person or cause

E.g. After the divorce, all his friends fell away one by one.

4. Fall back onUse something for support in a difficult situation

E.g. I have $10000 in my savings to fall back on.

5. Fall behindBe late (for a regular event)

E.g. You’re falling behind with the rent.

6. Fall downFall to the ground, to collapse

E.g. The beams supporting the roof had rotted, causing the entire house to fall down.

7. Fall forFall in love with someone

E.g. He really fell for the attractive waitress at his favorite restaurant.

8. Fall inCollapse inwards

E.g. The heavy rain caused the roof to fall in.

9. Fall intoBe classified as; to fall under

E.g. That falls into three categories.

10. Fall offBecome detached or to drop from

E.g. A button fell off my coat.

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Phrasal Verbs with PUT

1. Put acrossExplain or state something clearly and understandably

E.g. All good communicators try to use popular, well-understood examples to put across complex ideas

2. Put asideSave (money)

E.g. I try to put a few dollars aside each week, just in case I need money in an emergency

3. Put awayTake a large lead in a game, especially enough to guarantee victory

E.g. They put the game away by scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter

4. Put backReturn something to its original place

E.g. He carefully put the vase back on the shelf

5. Put byPreserve food by canning, freezing, drying, …

E.g. Our family has been putting food by for generations

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Phrasal Verbs with BRING

1. Bring aboutMake something happen

E.g. Social changes that have been brought about by new technology.

2. Bring alongBring someone or something to certain place

E.g. You can bring your friends along if you like.

3. Bring aroundBring something with you when you visit

E.g. He brought some books around when he came last night.

4. Bring downMake something cheaper/ to reduce

E.g. The improvements in technology have brought the prices of computers down considerably.

5. Bring forthRemove something from where it is kept or hidden

E.g. She brought forth the diary and showed it to us.

6. Bring forwardMake something happen earlier than originally planned

E.g. The meeting has been brought foward to this Friday instead of next week.

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100+ of the Most Useful Phrasal Verbs in English (With Meaning & Examples) 17

Phrasal Verbs with the Word LOOK

1. Look afterWatch or protect; to keep safe

E.g. He asked me to look after his daughter while he was away

2. Look toSeek inspiration or advice or reward from someone

E.g. Whenever I’m upset, I look to Mary to cheer me up.

3. Look forSearch for; to seek

E.g. He spent his life looking for the truth

4. Look intoInvestigate, explore, or consider

E.g. If you are buying a new car, you might want to look into getting a hybrid or other high-efficiency vehicle

5. Look outLook from within to the outside

E.g. Look out, and you will see the rain has stopped.


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Phrasal Verbs with PULL

1. Pull AwayGain in distance

E.g. She pulled away just as he was about to kiss her.

2. Pull Downdemolish

E.g. They pulled down the old sports stadium to build a new one.

3. Pull Forsupport; especially teams

E.g. Who are you pulling for in the cup finals?

4. Pull Intrain or bus arrival at a station

E.g. The train pulled in right on time.

5. Pull Offmanage to do

E.g. The Yankees pulled off a great upset in the finals.

6. Pull Overstop a vehicle by the side of the road

E.g. We pulled over to check our tires as something was making a funny sound on the car.

7. Pull Throughrecover from and illness

E.g. We didn’t know if he was going to pull through but in the end he did.

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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.


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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.

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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 25