Sometimes we read to find out information and at other times, we read simply for pleasure. We may read the whole of a text or only parts of it. To describe the different ways in which we read, we often use phrasal verbs. This week, then, we take a look at those ‘reading’ phrasal verbs, focusing on the slight differences in meaning between them.
Starting with phrases for reading only parts of a book or magazine, etc., there are a number of phrasal verbs with the particle ‘through’ that describe the action of quickly turning several pages of a book or magazine, looking briefly at the text or pictures:
I was flicking through a glossy magazine.
I flipped through their catalogue while I was waiting.
I thumbed through the report quickly over breakfast.
In UK English, if you dip into a book, you only read a small part of it at any one time: It’s a book for dipping into rather than reading all the way through.
Other phrasal verbs emphasize that you read all of something, but read it very quickly. If you read through or over something, you read it quickly from beginning to end, especially in order to find mistakes: I always read through my essays before handing them in. If you skim through or over something, you read all of it very quickly and not carefully, often just to understand the main points: I’ve just skimmed through the report – I’ll read it in detail later.
Meanwhile, if you pore over a book or document, you read it very carefully, concentrating and taking in all the details: When I left, Sophie was poring over a text book.
Some phrasal verbs emphasize how much text there is to read. If you wade through or plough through a great deal of information, you spend a lot of time and effort reading it, (often when it is boring or difficult):
I had to wade through pages of technical details.
There are still pages of documentation to plough through.
If you read up on a subject, you spend time reading in order to find out information about it: I thought I’d better read up on the company’s products before attending the interview.
Finally, to read something out is to say the words as you read them so that others can hear you: He read out the results of the competition.