Look out! Hurry up! Phrasal verbs for giving instructions

by Liz Walter

look outOne of the difficult things about phrasal verbs is knowing where to put the object. The great thing about the phrasal verbs in this post is that you don’t have to think about that because they are all used as simple, two-word phrases for giving instructions or orders. In other words, a single phrasal verb can make a whole sentence!

Several of these phrasal verbs are used for encouraging someone to improve their mood. If a person is very miserable, we could tell them to Cheer up! or if we think they are taking something too seriously or becoming too anxious, we could tell them to Lighten up! or Chill out! You might tell someone who is very angry or anxious to Calm down!, although this one can be dangerous because it often sounds like a criticism and is likely to have the opposite effect! David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, faced a storm of protest when he advised a woman MP to ‘Calm down, dear’ – the ‘dear’ at the end making the phrase even more patronising. Continue reading “Look out! Hurry up! Phrasal verbs for giving instructions”

I’m just easing myself back into work (Phrasal verbs for describing how hard we are working or studying)

by Kate Woodford

beaverOne morning in early January, I met a friend in a café and told her that I was easing myself back into work after the holidays. By using this phrase ‘to ease myself (back) into work’, I meant that I was slowly starting to work again after a period without work (I planned to answer a few emails and get in touch with a couple of colleagues – not exactly hard work!). I added that I fully intended to knuckle down the following week, meaning that I planned to start working hard that week. Funnily enough, I could also have used the rhyming phrasal verb buckle down here, which means the same thing. After using these two phrases I started to think about all the other phrasal verbs that we use to describe how much or how little we are working or studying and decided to use this post to share them with you. Continue reading “I’m just easing myself back into work (Phrasal verbs for describing how hard we are working or studying)”

They carried out an experiment: phrasal verbs in formal writing

by Liz Walter
carriedout_phrasalverbs
I have written previously about using phrasal verbs to avoid over-formal language, but what happens when you need to write in a formal style, for instance in an academic essay, a report, or a formal letter? Although we often think of phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs as being rather informal, the majority are in fact neutral and there are a good many that are positively formal. This blog post looks at a small selection of the many multi-word verbs which would be completely appropriate in formal or academic writing.

If you only learn one phrasal verb to use in formal writing, my recommendation would be carry out. This is extremely common and sounds much more impressive than ‘do’:

Scientists have carried out experiments/tests/research on …

We have carried out  a thorough review of … Continue reading “They carried out an experiment: phrasal verbs in formal writing”