Phrasal verbs are extremely common in English. That is why teachers are so keen to teach them even to beginners. One of the first phrasal verbs that students of English learn is take off, meaning ‘to remove something, often a piece of clothing’:
I was hot so I took my jacket off.
Students also learn early on the aeroplane sense of the same phrasal verb, meaning ‘to begin to fly’:
Twenty minutes later, the plane took off.
Note that this sense is intransitive, meaning that it has no object.
Like many phrasal verbs, take off has several meanings. Another sense that is used a lot is ‘to spend time away from your work’:
I took three days off to move house.
This sense, like the ‘remove clothes’ sense is transitive, meaning that it needs an object.
A helpful feature of some very common ‘take’ phrasal verbs is that they use the verb with its most basic meaning, ‘to get and carry something with you when you go somewhere’. This means that it is easier to guess their meaning when you hear them for the first time. It is true for the useful phrasal verb take back, meaning ‘to return something that you have bought to a shop’:
If the sweater is too small he can always take it back and get a refund.
The same also applies to the phrasal verb take away, meaning ‘to remove something from a place’:
Someone needs to come and take the old bed away.
And finally, the phrasal verb take out, meaning ‘to go somewhere and do something with someone, usually paying for them’:
Our boss is taking us out for a meal to celebrate.
Other ‘take’ phrasal verbs have meanings that are not so easy to guess, but they are still very common and worth making an effort to learn. Here are a few:
If you take after an older person in your family, you are similar to them in some way:
Peter is very tall. He takes after his father.
If a person is taken in by someone else, they are tricked or deceived by them:
They took the victims’ bank details and promised to send them money. I can’t believe anyone was taken in by them!
At work, if you take over from someone else, you start being responsible for something that someone else did before:
Helen took over as manager last month.
If you take up a hobby or activity, you start doing it:
My brother has recently taken up cycling.
And finally, if you are wondering what the meaning is of take it away! in the title of this blog, it is used to tell someone to start to perform.