20 Phrasal Verbs You Must Know For English Conversation
I taught a student once who was fluent in English and spent a few months in England. He told me that as fluent as he thought he was in English, during conversation with native English speakers, he felt lost most of the time! He explained that they were using words different from the meanings he knew. Most of these were phrasal verbs or expressions with idiomatic meanings, that sometimes make no sense to non-native English speakers. First I will explain what a phrasal verb is along with the grammatical side to phrasal verbs. I will define such terms as transitive vs. Intransitive phrasal verbs, and separable vs. inseparable phrasal verbs. Finally, I I will go through with you the top 20 most commonly used phrasal verbs in the English language.
…Are you ready? Let's go!!
A quick google search will tell you:
A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition or adverb which creates a meaning different from the original verb.
Transitive: Has an object
Separable example: object can go between or after the phrasal verb.
Sentence object after: Can you pick up my phone?
Sentence object between: Can you pick my phone up?
Inseparable example: You cannot separate the phrasal verb and put the object in between. The object must come after the phrasal verb.
Correct sentence: I will look after the car.
Incorrect sentence: I will look the car after.
*Transitive phrasal verbs can be separable or inseparable.
*If a Transitive Phrasal verb is separable and the object is a pronoun, the pronoun must always be between the verb and preposition, not after!
Intransitive: Has no object
Sentence: I get up at 6:00 a.m.
This sentence has no object.
20 Most Commonly Used Phrasal Verbs.
A) (Transitive, Separable)
B) (Transitive, Separable)
Daughter: “Mom, can you drive me home after school?”
Mom: “Yes, I will pick you up after school.”(Correct)
*Pronoun can only be between the verb and preposition, not after
Mom: “Yes, I will pick up you after school.” (Incorrect)
The bus picked up the passengers.
The bus pick the passengers up.
Checkout this website for more uses of the phrasal verb pick up, http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/pick-up_1
Look forward to. (Transitive, Inseparable)
*Helpful tip: Think about forward like future.
A: Let’s meet at Starbucks at 2pm
B: Ok, I look forward to meeting you.
A: I look forward to our date.
A: I look forward to our interview
A: Thanks for the invite, I look forward to your party.
A: I am not looking forward to the physics exam.
Calm down. (Intransitive)
A: I want to punch that bad driver in the face!
B: Calm down, there's no need to be angry
A: I'm so angry right now, I need to calm down.
Run out of something (Transitive, Inseparable).
Student: I need to print my essay.
Librarian: Sorry, we have run out of paper. My assistant has gone to buy more, she will be back in one hour.
Student: But my essay is due in 10 minutes!
Son: Mom, I just poured my cereal, can you pass me the milk?
Mom: Sorry, we have run out of milk. I will get some later today.
*This phrasal verb can be shortened to just out.
Sorry, we are out of milk.
Dress up (Intransitive)
A: Let's dress up tonight and go to a fancy dinner.
B: Sure, I will wear my new dress and high heels.
Break down. (Intransitive)
A) For a person to feel very sad, perhaps to even start crying. The person feels broken.
-After watching the movie Titanic, I broke down, I couldn't stop crying, it was just so sad!
B) For a machine to break and/or stop working.
-My car started making weird noises when I was driving it, then it broke down in the middle of the road. I had to call a tow truck to tow it to the mechanic.
Figure out. (Transitive, Separable)
Boyfriend: Let’s figure out what to do tonight.
Girlfriend: Ok, let’s go see a movie.
A: I am having a hard time trying to figure out the answer to question 5 on the exam.
Man: I can't figure women out.
Woman: I can't figure out men.
Give up. (Separable, Transitive*)
A: I am going to give up piano lessons, it is too difficult.
B: Don’t give up! You will figure it out!
A: I am going to give up smoking cigarettes.
A: I will never give up on you.
• If you are talking about the action you are currently performing, you do not need to say the action, just the quick expression, “I give up”
Currently writing an exam, pushes exam paper away “I give up!”
Hang out. (Intransitive)
A: Hey! If you’re not busy on Friday, do you want to hang out?
B: I'm free so sure, let’s hang out and go to the mall.
C) (Transitive, Separable)
-I need to take off my clothes before I get in the shower.
-Can you take the lid off this jar?
A) (Transitive, Separable)
A: I really want to stop fighting, I am sorry, can we make up?
B: I am sorry too, yes, let's make up.
C) (Transitive, Separable)
Mom: Did you make up your bed?
Daughter: No, I forgot… sorry, I will do it now.
D) Make up your mind. Make your mind up.(Transitive, Separable)
A: I am having a hard time deciding what I want to eat.
B: Can you hurry up and make up your mind!
Hurry up. (*Intransitive)
A: If you don't hurry up we are going to miss the bus!
B: I know, I know, I am trying to!
*Usually intransitive, except for the slang, “hurry your butt up” and “hurry yourself up”
A: It was nice talking to you, it had been a long time, glad we caught up.
B: Yes, it was so nice to catch up.
Look up. (Transitive, Separable)
-To search for an answer.
A: What does the word, “inspiration” mean?
B: I’m not sure, you should look it up in a dictionary or on Google.
A: What is her phone number?
B: I don’t know, I will look up her phone number for you in the phone book.
Eat out. (Intransitive).
Wife: What do you want for dinner tonight?
Husband: How about we eat out? Maybe at the new restaurant down the street.
Fill in/Fill out. (Transitive, Separable)
Government officer: Please fill in your name, address, and telephone number.
Receptionist: Please, fill the form out with your information.
Find something out. (Transitive, Separable)
I found out he was lying to me. (Inseparable)
I found the truth out, he was lying to me. (Separable)
I am going to find the truth out.
I found out your secret.
Can you find out what time the movie starts?
Grow up. (Intransitive
A: Where did you grow up?
B: I grew up in Toronto, Canada.
Grandma: Look at you, you're all grown up!
Grandson: Yes, I'm 25 years old now!
Idiomatic saying: Stop acting like a child, be mature, act your age.
Husband: That man took my parking spot! I was here first!
Wife: Oh grow up, just find another parking spot.
Pass away. (Intransitive)
Show off. (Transitive, Separable)
Look at him, showing off his new car to everyone in the neighbourhood.
Yes, he is good at basketball, but does he always have to show it off?
*Daughter: Why are people upset when I show them my handstands?
Mom: Because nobody likes a show off. (In this example, a show off, is a noun)
. There your have it, 20 phrasal verbs you must know! Hope you enjoyed!