Phrasal verbs with more than one meaning

by Liz Walter

Michael Sutton/EyeEm/Getty

Phrasal verbs are often difficult to learn because they tend to be formed from fairly common verbs and particles. To make matters worse, many of them have more than one meaning, and some have many, many meanings – pick up has 24 senses in the Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary!

Look at these sentences with go out, for example:

Did you go out last night? (leave your home for a social activity)

The fire’s gone out. (stopped burning)

The tide will go out at around 6 today. (go away from the shore) Continue reading “Phrasal verbs with more than one meaning”

Sorry to butt in! (Phrasal verbs that describe ways of speaking)

by Kate Woodford

Jenni Holma/Moment/Getty
Jenni Holma/Moment/Getty

This week we’re looking at the many phrasal verbs in English that refer to ways of speaking and the sort of things that people do in conversation.

The adverb ‘on’ has a sense which is ‘continuing or not stopping’. Accordingly, there are a few informal phrasal verbs containing ‘on’ that are used for speaking a lot and not stopping. For example, if someone goes on, they annoy you by talking about one subject for too long:

I know she did well in her exams – I just wish she’d stop going on about it!

He went on and on about his new job.  Continue reading “Sorry to butt in! (Phrasal verbs that describe ways of speaking)”

I keep putting it off. (Phrasal verbs with ‘put’)

by Kate Woodford

Hero Images/Getty
Hero Images/Getty

As part of an occasional series on phrasal verbs formed with common verbs, this post looks at phrasal verbs that contain the verb ‘put’. As ever, the phrasal verbs that we include in this post are all common in everyday English.

Let’s start with an action that most of you have already done today – put on a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes:

Put your coat on, Jamie – it’s cold outside. Continue reading “I keep putting it off. (Phrasal verbs with ‘put’)”

Common mistakes with phrasal verbs

by Liz Walter

Dave and Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty
Dave and Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty

Phrasal verbs are never easy, but this post will explain some very common mistakes and show you how to avoid making them.

One thing that often causes problems is using another verb after a phrasal verb. Just as with one-word verbs, you need to know the pattern of the verb that follows. Probably the most common mistakes are with phrasal verbs that need an -ing verb after them:

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

I’m looking forward to see you soon. Continue reading “Common mistakes with phrasal verbs”

Idioms and phrases related to eating

by Kate Woodford

Moretti/Viant/Caiaimage/Getty
Moretti/Viant/Caiaimage/Getty

It is sometimes said that the next best thing to eating food is talking about food. If this is true, we need the vocabulary with which to do it! In this post, we focus on idioms, phrasal verbs and other phrases that we use to talk about eating.

As you might imagine, many of the more colourful phrases in English relate to eating a lot. Someone who has eaten too much may say informally that they have made a pig of themselves: I made a real pig of myself at lunch. Continue reading “Idioms and phrases related to eating”

Phrasal verbs for the holiday season

by Liz Walter

Hero Images/Getty
Hero Images/Getty

August is a month for holidays in many countries, so I thought it would be nice to look at some phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs connected with going on holiday. (By the way, holiday is a British English word – Americans take vacations.)

One very simple phrasal verb connected with holidays is go away. If we ask someone ‘Are you going away this summer?’, we are asking about their holiday plans; it is not a general enquiry about them going somewhere. We use get away in a similar way:

I hope to get away for a few days soon. Continue reading “Phrasal verbs for the holiday season”

How much did that set you back? (Money phrasal verbs)

by Kate Woodford

Persley Photographics (c)/Moment/Getty
Persley Photographics (c)/Moment/Getty

This week we’re looking at the wealth of phrasal verbs in English that relate to money, including those used for having and not having money, those for saving money and those for spending it. Starting with a very common phrasal verb, if you pay off a sum that you owe to a bank or person, you give them all of it: I’m hoping to pay off the debt within two years. Continue reading “How much did that set you back? (Money phrasal verbs)”

5 Phrasal verbs to impress your teachers

KUO CHUN HUNG/iStock/Getty
KUO CHUN HUNG/iStock/Getty

Many of my students worry about phrasal verbs, and I have written several posts about them, including a basic introduction to the what they are and how they are used and a more recent post on phrasal verbs for everyday actions.

One of the most common complaints is that there are simply so many of them, and that they are difficult to remember, especially when the main verb is a very common one such as take or set. In this post, therefore, I have selected just 5 phrasal verbs. All of them are extremely common, and all of them can be used in a wide variety of contexts. If you learn just these 5, you will be able to use them in your writing and impress your teachers. Continue reading “5 Phrasal verbs to impress your teachers”

Phrasal verbs for everyday actions

by Liz Walter

Credit: Getty

I have written several posts about phrasal verbs, including an introduction to what they are and how to use them. However, I realised today that I have never written about some of the most common phrasal verbs there are – ones that we use to talk about actions that take place every day.

You will almost certainly find that you know some of them already, and it is worth learning any that are new to you because they are all extremely common, and most of them have no one-word equivalent.

The first thing that happens every morning is that we wake up. We can also say that we wake someone up:

I woke up at 7.30. (In US punctuation, write the time as 7:30.)

My Dad wakes me up at 6 a.m. every day. Continue reading “Phrasal verbs for everyday actions”

Keep up with new phrasal verbs in English

by Colin McIntosh

mike_upPhrasal verbs are the stuff of many students’ nightmares. Most native speakers of English are blissfully unaware of their existence (they’re those short verbal phrases that include a little word like up or out: catch up, for example), but for those learning English, they have a reputation for being difficult to learn and impossible to use correctly. (Not exactly true – it’s more about the way they’re taught.)

Unfortunately for these learners, their number is growing all the time. The Cambridge dictionary is always on the lookout for them, and they’re added to the dictionary in the same way as other new words. Continue reading “Keep up with new phrasal verbs in English”