Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.

Nick Dolding / Cultura / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

My last post was about phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs connected to sadness and happiness. This post will look at some other emotions.

Let’s start with anger. If someone suddenly becomes angry, we can say that they flare up. Blow up is similar and often describes an even angrier outburst. We use the preposition at if that anger is directed at a particular person: Continue reading “Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.”

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”

It’s good to get away. (Phrasal verbs/Multi-word verbs relating to travel)

by Kate Woodford​
For many of us, the summer season is now ending. How did you spend it? Did you manage to get away (= go somewhere different) for a week or two? Perhaps you were too busy working or studying to take time off (= spend time away from your work/studies). This week, as you’ve probably guessed, we’re looking at phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs that relate to travel.

Starting with making travel arrangements, if you arrange for yourself or someone else to stay at a hotel, in British English you may say that you book someone into the hotel, etc.: My sister has booked us into a really nice hotel in the main square. When you arrive at the hotel, you will check in (or check into the hotel), meaning that you give the person working there your personal details: I’d just arrived at the hotel and was checking in. Continue reading “It’s good to get away. (Phrasal verbs/Multi-word verbs relating to travel)”

They carried out an experiment: phrasal verbs in formal writing

by Liz Walter
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”

We don’t really get on. (Phrasal verbs for describing relationships)

by Kate Woodford​
Two people who have a good relationship are often said to get on (well): I get on really well with both of my brothers. Meanwhile, people who stop being friends after an argument are frequently said to fall out: The brothers fell out over money. Our relationships are very important to us so we talk about them a lot. Often, to describe the way we feel about a person, or something that has happened to a relationship, we use phrasal verbs such as these. This week, we are looking at the most important phrasal verbs in this area. Some are used for talking about romantic relationships and others relate to friends and family members. All are common.

Let’s start with the first time we meet another person. If we like them, we may say that we take to them and if, (as sometimes happens), we decide that we do not like them, we may say that we take against them: I hadn’t met Jamie’s girlfriend before but I really took to her – I thought she was lovely./Tom took against Rebecca because she said something mean about his friend. If we very much like someone that we have just met and become friendly immediately, we sometimes use the informal phrasal verb hit it off: I introduced Jake to Ollie and they really hit it off. (Notice that ‘it’ is always part of this phrase. This is true for a small group of phrasal verbs.) If one particular thing about a person you have just met makes you not like them, you may say that it puts you off them: Kate’s husband was very rude to our waiter and it put me off him a bit. Continue reading “We don’t really get on. (Phrasal verbs for describing relationships)”

Go ahead! (Phrasal verbs with ‘go’)

by Kate Woodford​​​​
go ahead
Every few weeks, we focus on phrasal verbs that are formed with a particular verb. This week, we’re looking at phrasal verbs that start with the verb ‘go’. As ever, we present a range of the most useful and common phrasal verbs.

Some of the most common ‘go’ phrasal verbs are easy to understand because the ‘go’ part of the phrase has its usual meaning, which is ‘to move or travel somewhere’. When ‘go’ in a phrasal verb has its usual meaning, the other part, which is the particle, (away, off, out, etc.) also has its regular meaning. For this set of phrasal verbs, it is easy to work out what they mean:

She went away (= left) for a few days.

When are you going back (=returning) to Paris?

A pink sports car went by (=passed).

I looked in the shop window but I didn’t actually go in (= enter).

Helena went off (= left) about an hour ago.

Are you going out (= leaving your home to go somewhere else)? Continue reading “Go ahead! (Phrasal verbs with ‘go’)”

I won’t tolerate it! Replacing formal words with phrasal verbs.

by Liz Walter​
When you are using a language, it is important to understand if a word is formal or informal, so that you can use it in an appropriate way. You might hear people saying dosh for money, or spud for potato, but they wouldn’t write those words in a formal essay. Similarly, a lawyer’s letter might include very formal terms such as heretofore or pursuant to, but nobody uses them in speech or informal writing.

Learners sometimes have problems with this issue when they try to avoid phrasal verbs by using a single word verb instead. This is particularly true when they have a similar word in their own language, for example tolerate in English and tolérer in French or tolerar in Spanish. Although the meaning is the same, tolerate is a more formal word in English. In speech, we would be much more likely to say put up with: I don’t know how she puts up with his behaviour. Continue reading “I won’t tolerate it! Replacing formal words with phrasal verbs.”