List of Phrasal Verbs and Their Meanings.

This list has been compiled from books, the internet, and university notes, and our brains! There are many more phrasal verbs than appear on this list, and some of those listed may also have additional meanings. Meanings may also differ, depending on regional usage. 



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There are three types of phrasal verbs: separable, inseparable, and intransitive.

Note: There's no way to tell if a phrasal verb is separable, inseparable, or intransitive. They must be learned and memorized, one by one. Remember that phrasal verbs are truly verbs, and are used in the present, past, and future tenses. You will notice that some phrasal verbs fit in more than one category, depending on their meaning.


Separable Phrasal Verbs  A-B

add up

add; find the total

  • Would you please add my bill up?

  • Would you please add up my bill?

ask out

ask for a date

  • Ralph asked her out last night.

  • Ralph asked out the most popular girl in school.

back out of

walk or drive backward instead of forward

  • While backing out of the driveway, Jimmy drove into the mailbox.

  • While backing the car out of the driveway, Jimmy drove into the mailbox.

back up

when an outside force moves an item (car, chair, bicycle, etc) backwards

  • Back the truck up to the loading area, so we can load the lumber. (Put the back of the truck---not the front of the truck---nearest to where the loading is done.)

  • Back up the truck to the loading area, so we can load the lumber.

to affirm that someone else's information is true

  • Josh will back my story up. (He'll tell you that I told the truth.)

  • Josh will back up my story.

to make an extra copy for protection

  • It's important to back your computer files up in case your PC needs to be reformatted. (To save a copy of files on a CD, DVD, etc.)

  • It's important to back up your computer files in case your PC needs to be reformatted.

 clogged drainage

  • The shower drain in the bathroom is backed up. (The water won't go out; it just stays there.)

  • The heavy rain backed the storm drains up.

blow up

to inflate

  • Who is blowing the balloons up for the birthday party?

  • Who is blowing up the balloons for the birthday party?

to explode or destroy by exploding

  • Wreckum & Sons Demolition were hired to blow the building up.

  • Wreckum & Sons Demolition were hired to blow up the building.

break down

list parts or sections of something separately

  • CC wants to break the test down into sections.

  • CC wants to break down the test into sections.

break in

wear or use something new for a limited amount of time, increasing the time little by little;

to treat a new product in a special way for a limited time

  • Nancy is breaking her new shoes in by wearing them only three hours each day.

  • When you break in your new car , be sure to drive it at varying speeds for the first thousand miles.

to train a person in a job

  • Warren will be breaking the new insurance salesman in by the end of the month.

  • Warren will be breaking in the new insurance salesman by the end of the month.

bring back

to return something you are dissatisfied with or have borrowed

  • Carl has to bring his new suit back, because there's a tear in the jacket.

  • Carl has to bring back his new suit, because there's a tear in the jacket.

to re-instate something from the past.  It may be an activity or a pastime or a person.

  • Let's bring silent movies back! If they say dirty words, at least we won't hear them.

  • Let's bring back silent movies!

bring off

accomplish something difficult

  • Amy had a rough time with the test, but she brought it off.

  • Jack brought off the big business deal he had been working on.

bring on

 cause to happen

  • Too much sun can bring heatstroke on.

  • Too much sun can bring on heatstroke.

bring over

bring to where you're going

  • Randy asked Shirley to bring a cake over for teatime.

  • Randy asked Shirley to bring over a cake for teatime. 

bring to (see "come to")

to revive to consciousness

  • When Annie fainted, Gregory brought her to.

  • When someone faints, they should be brought to carefully.

bring up

mention, talk about

  • I asked you not to bring the subject of my accident up in conversation again.

  • I asked you not to bring up the subject of my accident in conversation again.

 to raise children = take care of their physical and emotional needs from the day they're born, and teach them the social customs of your culture

  • Patricia brings her children up to be respectful.

  • Patricia brings up her children to be respectful.

brush out

to sweep the inside of something

  • I needed to brush the car out.  It was very dirty.

  • I needed to brush out the car.  It was very dirty.

burn up

to feel very angry

  • It really burns me up when I'm on/in line, and people get in front of me!

  • It burned him up that the bank teller made him stand in the line a second time.

Use only this word order.

butter up

praise someone excessively with the hope of getting some benefit

  • He's buttering his boss up because he wants a raise.

  • She's planning to butter up her boyfriend so he'll take her to a fancy restaurant.

buy out

buy a person's or company's share of something

  • The Ringling Brothers Circus bought out the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

  • Jim and Jack had a partnership in a doughnut business. When they couldn't get along, Jack bought Jim out.

buy up

purchase everything that's  available of something

  • The next time Diet Coke is on sale, Janine plans to buy it all up. (all the Diet Coke the store had at the time)

  • In fact, Janine would like to buy up all the Coke in town! (all the Coke in every store in the town)

  • Ida bought up all the land from Tenth Avenue to Twelfth Avenue.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs  A-B

act like

behave in a certain way

  • Young boys sometimes act like idiots when they're around girls.

add up to

to total

  • The facts of the crime added up to only one thing: murder!

back out of

to change your mind about being a part of a plan; fail to keep a promise

  • She backed out of all the plans they'd made to get her re-elected. (change of mind)

  • Don't try to back out of this marriage now! (not honor a promise)

back up

moves backwards

  • Don't back up, or you'll step on my foot.

bear down on

to pressure someone; browbeat (to bully)

  • The police will bear down on anyone caught stealing.

  • Garrett's father bore down on him until he agreed to play football.

bear up under

to endure

  • Bearing up under the problems of life will make you a stronger person.

blow up

to have an angry emotional outburst

  • He blew up when she asked him to take out the garbage.

bone up on

review or study

  • If Jacob hadn't boned up on his studies, he would have failed the test.

break in on

to interrupt

  • Sorry to break in on everyone's conversation, but I want to watch television.

break into


  • Little children break into conversations until their parents teach them not to interrupt.

enter a house or building forcibly

  • We could see by his behavior that he was getting ready to break into Sherry's house.

to suddenly begin singing, yelling, crying, etc.

  • Shawn breaks into song any time he feels like it, even during class time!

  • Baby Carrie broke into tears (cried) when the dog took her candy.

break up with

end a personal relationship

  • Teddy didn't want to break up with his girlfriend at all, but she really wanted to break up with him.

bring out

to reveal

  • You should bring out the main facts during your interview.

to emphasize 

  • Green eye shadow brings out the color of her eyes.

to publicly announce a new product on the market

  • The cell 'phone company will bring out the new line this fall.

brush up on

review or study briefly

  • If you want to water ski, you really need to brush up on your swimming.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs   A-B
act up

misbehave (for people), not work properly (for machines)

  • Harry has never acted up in class, but he did yesterday!

  • This PC has been acting up since last night.

add up

fit together logically

  • The suspect gave the police an alibi for the time the crime was committed, but it just didn't add up.

back down

 not follow through with a statement or a threat; retreat from a statement or opinion,

  • He backed down from the fight when I told him the other guy was 6'7".

  • Little Josie finally backed down from saying that 2+2=5, when we made her count on her fingers.

back off

to stop in the middle of physically or verbally threatening someone; physically retreat 

  • The mugger backed off when May adopted her Kung Fu stance.

back out (same as "back out of", but no direct object)

refuse to do something that is planned, fail to keep a promise

  • Even though the job was dangerous, Henry didn't back out.

bear up

to endure

  • Gail told Clarence to bear up, because life would get better.

beg off  

decline an invitation; asked to be excused

  • When she received an invitation to the wedding, Chrissie begged off  because she had gained 50 pounds.

blow in

visit someone unexpectedly (informal use only)

  • I wasn't planning on having any visitors, but Peter and May just blew in.

blow up

get extremely windy, as happens before a big storm

  • A storm is starting to blow up now, so we better get all the horses back to the barn.

 lose one's temper

  • Millie was afraid to tell Sam she thought he was a bad dancer, for fear he would blow up at her.

break down

to stop functioning

  • Max's car broke down for the fifth time this month.

to begin crying, to lose emotional control

  • Whenever she sees a sad movie, she breaks down and sobs.

break up

disperse, scatter

  • The party broke up after Wendell's parents came home. (everyone left)

end a relationship

  • Face it, Jeremy! We need to break up! 

when a solid thing breaks into small pieces

  • When I dropped the plate, it broke up into 50 pieces.

    audio that can't be heard clearly

  • The sound from his microphone was breaking up very badly, and we couldn't understand what he said.

burn up/burn down

destroyed by fire

  • All my books burned up in the fire.

  • The big building burned down to the ground after the earthquake.

(We usually refer to houses and buildings as "burning down", and everything that been inside them as "burning up".)

butt in

impolitely interrupt a conversation to give an unasked-for opinion

  • Whenever he makes a plan with his wife, her mother butts in!

Separable Phrasal Verbs  C-E

call off

cancel something that's been scheduled

  • They called the game off because of rain.

  • They called off the game because of rain.

call up

to telephone

  • Bob called Corinne up last night.

  • Bob called up Corinne last night.

calm down

become less agitated or help someone else become less upset

  • Sometimes all it takes to calm someone down is soft music.

  • Dora calmed down all the people who had been in the burning theater.

carry over

continue to use/apply at another time or place

  • When I moved, the 'phone company let me carry my deposit over. (use the same deposit from my old 'phone number for the new 'phone number)

  • Does the tax deduction I had for the year 2004 carry over to the year 2005?

check off

mark a list to show something is completed/finished

  • Check all of the food you bought today off the list, and tomorrow we'll buy the rest of it.

  • Get your list and check off all of the food you bought today. Tomorrow we'll buy the rest of it.

check out

pay for items being bought

  • Said to a cashier at a store: "Is your check stand open to check my groceries out?"

  • "Yes sir, I can check out your items right now."


  • Wow! Check out the muscles on that guy!

  • Wow! Check that guy out!

borrow books from a library

  • How many books am I allowed to check out at one time?

  • While you're at the library, check some books out for me too.

to look at something carefully/to investigate

  • Alicia checked the new boutique out, but didn't find anything she liked.

  • If you're looking for information on cooking snails, there's a great website you should check out.

cheer up

cause to become happier

  • Sweet little dogs are wonderful for cheering older people up.

  • Sweet little dogs are wonderful for cheering up older people.

chew out

scold severely

  • Lawrence's mother chewed him out when he forgot her birthday.

  • Lawrence's mother also chewed out everyone who hadn't sent her a birthday card.

chop up

cut something big into smaller pieces

  • The estate was chopped up because there were so many heirs.

  • After they cut the trees down, they then had to chop the wood up before they could burn it in the fireplace.

clean off; clear off

clean the surface of something; take everything that's on the surface (table or counter) off

  • Clean off the table.  Supper is ready.

  • Clean the table off.  Supper is ready.

clean out

clean the inside of something, taking out everything not needed

  • Clean out your closet because there's no room to hang anything else.

  • Clean your closet out because you can't find anything that's in it.

clean up

put everything back in its proper place

  • If you promise to clean up the house afterwards, I'll allow you to have a party.

  • If you promise to help me clean the house up afterwards, we'll make a party.

clear out

to make people or animals leave a particular place/to remove

  • They cleared all of the skunks out of that area of the forest, and brought them to a place where there was more food.

  • The firemen cleared out the crowd so no one got injured from the collapsing building.

to take out everything from something enclosed/to make empty

  • He cleared the inside of his desk out when he was fired.

  • He cleared out the inside of his desk when he was fired.

close down (pronounce like "close the door", not like 'close' meaning 'near')

to stop operations or business permanently

  • The carnival closed down when vacation time was over.

  • The police closed the carnival down when they found gambling at one of the booths.

close up (pronounce like "close the door", not like 'close' meaning 'near')

to stop operations or business temporarily

  • English Mistakes Welcome closed up while CC was moving.

to sew up an open wound

  • The surgeons closed the incision up when the operation was finished.

count in


  • Is Leonard coming to the picnic? Yes, count him in.

  • If you are having a picnic, the Smiths should  be counted in.

count out

don't include

  • Is Arthur coming too? No, count him out. He's busy working.

  • When Polly made the list for the end-of-school party, she counted out all the teachers.

count up


  • If I count up all the people who will lend me money to buy a new car,  I still won't have enough money to buy it.

  • If I count all the people up who said they'd lend me money for a new car , I still won't have enough.

cross out/cross off

to delete something from a list; eliminate

  • I'm crossing his name off my list of organ donors, because he just donated a kidney.

  • Simon was crossed off the Best Dressed Man list, because he'd become a sloppy dresser.

  • Cross out the name of that store, because they've gone out of business.

cut off

cut a portion from a solid piece

  • Measure four yards of material from the bolt of fabric, and cut it off there.

  • Cut off four yards of the fabric, and charge it to my account.

limit how much alcohol can be served/limit how much credit for gambling can be permitted

  • If you drink too much, the bartender will cut you off. (refuse to serve you)

  • The casino gave the Las Vegas gambler a $100,000 credit line, and then they cut off his funds.

power outage or cessation of power

  • The telephone company cut the 'phone service off when my bill was paid late.

  • The television didn't work because the power had been cut off during the storm.

cut down

reduce the quantity

  • Jon is cutting the amount of meat he eats down to three servings a week.

  • Jon is cutting down the amount of meat he eats to three servings a week.

to use tools or machinery to take away trees

  • The state is cutting all the trees down to make way for a super-highway.

  • The state is cutting down all the trees to make way for a super-highway.

cut out

eliminate, delete

  • Martin cut all white products out of his diet in order to lose weight.

  • Martin cut out all white products from his diet in order to lose weight.

do in

make very tired

  • Teaching five hours without a break really does me in.

  • I'm really done in after painting the whole outside of the house!

cause to die or to murder

  • I  think his smoking four packs of cigarettes a day finally did him in. (the cause of his death)

  • He was finally done in by all the cigarettes he had smoked in his life.

  • Dictators do all the people in who don't agree with the government's views. (murder)

  • Dictators do in all the people who don't agree with the government's views.

do over

repeat an action 

  • I made too many mistakes in the essay. Now I have to start from the beginning again, and do the whole thing over.

  • I hate to do over the work I just finished!

draw out


  • Some people have to draw out everything they say until it is a boring monologue.

  • Some people have to draw everything they say out until it is a boring monologue.

to encourage a shy person to speak or enter into an activity

  • Peter and Rose finally drew Lee out, and he began speaking in class.

  • Peter and Rose were finally able to draw out the shyest students, and they began speaking in class.

draw up

create a written document (usually a legal one, like a contract

  • I had the lawyer draw up a new will when I got married.

  • I had the lawyer draw a new will up when I got married.

when a mode of transportation approaches and stops at a particular point

  • He drew up to the curb and parked the car. 

  • He drew the car up to the curb and parked it. 

  • When the stagecoach draws up, Tex and the posse will board it.

dress up

to wear more formal clothes, not everyday clothes; to wear a costume

  • Marcia hates to dress up for mass. 

  • Her little sister likes to dress the cat up as a baby on Halloween.

To make something attractive on a temporary or superficial basis

  • They always dress up the table with flowers for special dinners.

  • A new paint job will dress the house up a little, but it won't hide the broken floor tile.

drop off

to bring someone or something to a certain point and leave them/it there

  • Drop me off at the corner of First Street. I'll walk to the park from there.

  • If you can drop off those documents before 3 o'clock, I'll have them signed before 5.

dust off

to clean the surface

  • Dust off the chair and sit down.

  • Dust the chair off and sit down.

dust out

wipe the dust from inside of something

  • Let me dust out that cup before you drink from it.

  • Let me dust that cup out before you drink from it.

eat up

eat the whole amount of something

  • Trent ate up the entire pizza before we even got to the table.

  • Trent ate the entire pizza up before we even got to the table.

egg on

to urge, to dare (usually to do something negative)

  • It was Megan's fault I dyed my hair green. She egged me on.

  • When there's trouble out in the schoolyard, Megan's always there to egg on anyone who looks ready to fight.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs  C-E

call for

require (as in a recipe or directions)

  • Mother's double-fudge cake calls for plenty of chocolate!

  • The map called for a left turn at Hooterville.

go/come and get; pick up

  • Lewis called for his date at 8 pm, sharp.

call on

ask someone for an answer or to speak

  • The teacher called on Joe to answer the question.

to visit (formal usage)

  • Lady Gertrude called on the new Prime Minister last Saturday.

call up

summon for military service

  • He was called up for active duty last week.

to search your memory, to try to remember

  • Calling up the details of an accident that happened 5 years ago isn't easy to do.

care for

 tend to, take care of

  • When Ronald's cat was ill, he cared for her all day and all night.

enjoy, like

  • I do not care for spinach. (don't like it)

 have a fondness for; love

  • The prince cared deeply for the princess. (loved)

carry on

continue to do things as they had been done before/persevere

  • Don will carry on as head of the business, after his father's funeral.

make a lot of very unpleasant noise/inappropriate behavior

  • Those teenagers carried on so much in the movie theater, that the manager threw all of them out.

carry on with

continue to do something without stopping

  • I didn't mean to interrupt.  Please carry on with what you were doing.

to have a love affair, usually with someone who's married

  • The prince carried on with Camilla for many years while they were married to different partners.

carry out

fulfill/complete/perform (plans or orders)

  • The spy carried out his mission, in spite of all the danger.

catch on

develop a knowledge or understanding of something

  • Annie went over the lesson until everyone caught on.

check in (into)

register for an event or at a place of lodging

  • If we can check in to the hotel by 7 p.m., we'll still have time to attend the conference.

search for facts/investigate

  • I need to check into that investment. It looks too good to be true.

check out (of)

is or isn't logical, to make or not make sense

  • We interviewed the prisoner, but his version of what happened didn't check out.

the time one must pay the bill and leave a hotel

  • Check-in can be at any time, but you must check out of this hotel by 2 p.m.

slang usage: to die

  • The paramedics tried to save his life, but he'd already checked out before they reached the hospital.

check up on

verify or examine

  • Gerald wasn't sure the information he'd given them was accurate, so he checked up on everything.

chip in

each person in a group of people contributing money to buy something

  • If each person chips in a dollar, we can afford to buy the CD.

clam up

refuse to talk

  • The Mafia boss clammed up during the investigation.

come across

find by accident/to honor a deal

  • I came across the greatest book the other day.

  • She promised to pay the balance of the loan by Friday, but she never came across.

come along with


  • Come along with me to the store.

make progress towards a goal

  • He was have trouble learning Spanish, but now he's coming along very well.

come by


  • Come by anytime. You know you're always welcome at our house.

possess a trait because of a specific reason

  • Bella comes by her good looks naturally; her parents are also good looking.

come down with

to begin to get sick, catch a disease

Don't kiss me, because I think I am coming down with a cold.

come out with

to say something

  • We asked all the children to tell us who broke the window, hoping one of them would come out with the truth.

publicly show something

  • Toy companies come out with their Christmas line in July.

come to


  • What did the grocery bill come to this month?

to arrive at a decision

  • After looking at all the options, Rod came to his decision.

become conscious after being unconscious

  • When she passed out, someone used smelling salts to help her come to.

come up with

generate ideas; think creatively

  • Joan needed a solution to the problem, but she couldn't come up with a thing.

  • We came up with so many great ideas for Helene's surprise birthday party.

count on

depend on someone (to help you) or something (to function properly

  • I can't count on Jan to help me, because she's always drunk.

  • Curtis says he can count on his car to get him to work every day, but I've seen him taking it to the mechanic very often. I wouldn't count on a car that needs repair all the time.

cut back on

use or do less of something

  •  Mitzy's going to get sick if she doesn't cut back on work.

cut in


  • When Harvey dances with his girlfriend, he doesn't like other men to cut in. (other men interrupting their dance, asking to dance with his partner.)

  • The telephone operator cut in to say I had an emergency telephone call.

cut it out

an order to stop doing something (slang usage)

  • You boys who are throwing food need to cut it out! (stop)

disagree with

cause physical discomfort (allergic reaction)

  • Denny never eats junk food. It disagrees with him, and he gets a rash.

opposite of "'agree"

  • Mandy disagrees with my decisions most of the time.

do away with

get rid of, abolish

  • If they do away with traffic laws, the roads will be chaotic.


  • People are still hoping to see him alive, but I'm sure his enemies have already done away with him.

do without

deprive oneself

  • Mothers often do without to provide for their children.

drop by

casual visit with no warning

  • I was trying to take a nap, but friends dropped by and woke me.

drop in on

casual visit with no warning

  • All of Linda's friends from work dropped in on her early Sunday morning.

drop off

to fall asleep

  • Sidney ate so much, that he dropped off to sleep while still sitting in his chair.

drop out of

quit, stop attending a course before it's finished

  • People who drop out of school have a hard time in life.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs  C-E

calm down

become less upset

  • Now, calm down! This isn't the end of the world.

came about


  • The crisis came about because she was careless.

carry on


  • A brave person carries on in spite of obstacles.

 behave badly

  • When Billy's father wouldn't buy him a new toy, he carried on (threw a tantrum) for hours.

catch on (to)

understand   (I got it!)

  • Victor catches on to slang very fast.

catch up to

to try to move quickly enough from behind to reach something far ahead

  • If Bea runs fast enough she can catch up to Junior.

                                                                  catch up with

Has two meanings: the exact same meaning as "catch up to", OR it's just an expression similar to "see you later". "later" doesn't mean later the same day. The expression just means that you'll talk or see the person soon.

  • Go ahead. I'll catch up with you later.

check up


  • When you see that your children are too quiet, it's a good idea to check up on them.

chicken out

lose courage and back down from a plan

  • Jackie was going to ask Sarah for a date, but he chickened out.

clear out


  • When the police came in the front door, the crooks cleared out.

clear up

talk about a misunderstanding to make it understandable

  • If a misunderstanding isn't cleared up, it will only get worse.

weather improves

  • The storm cleared up after an hour.

come along

progress, go with

  • The project was coming along nicely.

come back


  • Arnold came back to the house because he forgot his wallet.

come by

visit with no advance plans or notice

  • Come by the house any time you're in the area. We're always glad to see you.

come out

 to exit from one area to go to another

  • Every time Michael Jackson comes out of court, his fans are waiting to greet him.

 making one's debut in high-society

  • Allison came out in December, so her debut had a  winter theme.

 publishing of a book, or public appearance of a new product on the market

  • New spring fashions are coming out at the beginning of the month.

come over

visit, come to where someone is

  • When will you come over to my house to visit again?

  • If you need my help to tie your shoes, come over here.

come through

win/succeed/survive in spite of obstacles

  • The marathon lasted 12 hours, but Amy came through.

come to

regain consciousness

  • After 12 years in a coma, Edward came to.

cut in


  • Please don't cut in when I'm speaking.

die down

become less important/lesser degree of something

decrease to the point of disappearing

  • The bad publicity will die down as soon as the next scandal happens.

  • The applause finally died down.

  • By the time the high winds of the hurricane died down, they had already caused a lot of damage.

die off/out

become extinct, disappear

  • We must protect certain animal and plant species, or they will die off.

  • Some religions die out, and others are born.

drag on

last longer than one expected

  • This speech is dragging on forever! 

drive back

return by car to the original location or starting point

  • If Carson drives back right now, he can still be on time.

eat out

eat at a restaurant instead of in your home

  • Clarise didn't feel like cooking, so they ate out last night.

  • Bringing already-prepared food home is easy, but it isn't the same as eating out.

end up

finally arrive

arrive at a planned or unplanned place

  • We got lost, but we finally ended up at the right place.

  • When Lonny started the trip, he never expected to end up in Bangkok!

the final result, after trying various possible solutions

  • I had so much trouble trying to do my own car repair, that I ended up bringing the car to a good mechanic.


Separable Phrasal Verbs  F-J

figure out

solve a problem; find an answer; understand another person's behavior

  • It took Noah six hours to figure his taxes out.

  • I will never figure out how men think.

fill in

add material if some is missing

  • Did he fill all the parts of the report in that were missing?

  • Did he fill in all the missing parts of the report?

repair a crack/damage in an object

  • All the cracks in the wall have to be filled in with plaster before the wall can be painted.

  • Fill all the cracks in with plaster before you paint the wall.

write information in the blank spaces on a form

  • Len had to fill in the blanks on several forms in order to file an insurance claim.

  • Len had to fill the blanks in on several forms in order to file an insurance claim.

fill out (same meaning as the last definition of "fill in", but they're not interchangeable phrases)

 to write information in the empty spaces on a form

  • After filling the marriage license out , Mike got cold feet.

  • After Mike filled out the marriage license , he got cold feet.

fill up

fill completely

  • When Margaret runs out of fuel, she has to fill the tank up again.

  • When Margaret runs out of fuel, she has to fill up the tank again. 

fix up

repair to make more attractive or functional

  • If you fix up that car, it will sell more easily.

  • If you fix that car up, it will sell more easily.

slang usage: fix up: to arrange a date for two people who don't know each other

  • How did you meet Julie? Oh, James fixed me up with her.

  • I like Julie, can you fix up a date for me?

get across

communicate clearly, explain something to make yourself understood

  • She tried to get her point across to him, but he never understood. (only this word order)

get in

enter: a car, a room, a meeting or a concert, etc.

  • Get in the car now, or we'll be late.

  • Get Granny in the car, so we can leave.

get off

excused from a regular activity

  • Julian tried to get off work, but the boss wouldn't let him go.

  • Julian tried to get a few days off from work, but the boss wouldn't let him go.

 a reduction in the amount of time of a jail term

  • Al Capone never got time taken off his prison sentence for good behavior.

excused from responsibility (by a court judge, or some other authority)

  • Al Capone never got off without some kind of punishment.

  • The students got off easy this week, because the teacher didn't assign homework.

    climb down/leave

  • Get off the bus at the Fifth Street stop.

  • Shall she be getting her luggage and her dogs off the plane by herself?


    remove from a surface

  • Get off the table! Dancing is only allowed on the floor!

  • I can't get the stain off this new blouse.

get out of

leave a small vehicle

  • Get out of the car if you're going to be a backseat driver!

  • Get that dog out of the car this minute!

give back


  • Successful people have the responsibility of giving something back to society.

  • Give back my car keys so I can leave!

give out

distribute or spread the news

  • The lady who lives next door was giving flyers out to everyone in the neighborhood.

  • The lady who lives next door was giving out flyers to everyone in the neighborhood.

give up

stop doing something (a habit)

  • If she gives smoking up, she'll live longer.

  • If she gives up smoking, she'll live longer.

hand down

announce a decision or law

  • The judge handed down her verdict: guilty as charged!

  • The judge handed her verdict down : guilty as charged!

pass possession of an item or an estate  from one generation to another

  • Aunt Tilly handed her grandmother's china down to my niece Priscilla.

  • Aunt Tilly handed down her grandmother's china to my niece Priscilla.

hand in (turn in)

submit something in person (not by mail)

  • The students need to hand in their tests in one hour.

  • The students handed their tests in, and were then free to leave.

hand out

distribute personally

  • Rod has to hand 5,000 leaflets out by 4 p.m.

  • Rod had to hand out 5,000 leaflets by 4 p.m.

hand over

surrender something/return/give back

  • She took my coat without my permission, and today I made her hand it over.

  • Hand over that coat, or I'll tell your mother!

have on

wear clothes

  • What did Cathy have on for the interview?

  • She had a yellow skirt on with a matching yellow top.

to know secret information about someone

  • I think Connie has something on her boss, and that's why he won't fire her.

  • Wow! What do you think she has on him? (What's the secret she knows about him?)

have over

invite someone to your home

  • Peter had some friends over for lunch Saturday.

  • How many friend did he have over for lunch?

to hold up

lift higher

  • Stanley had to hold his son up so the boy could see the parade.

  • Stanley had to hold up his son so the boy could see the parade.


  • You always hold everyone up by being so late.

  • Cowboy Joe held up the cattle drive when he lost his spurs.

to rob

  • Tony wants to hold up the biggest bank in town.

  • He held the same bank up two years ago, and was never caught.

iron out

resolve a problem

  • I'm certain that Conrad and his fiancée can iron their problems out in time for their wedding.

  • Some problems just can't be ironed out.

jack (me, you, us, them, her, him) around (very informal/slang)

 lying to someone by telling them you're about to do something very soon, and then not doing what you  promised 

  • Mortimer really jacked me around for six months until he finally paid me. (He kept promising he'd pay me, but he took a very long time to do it.)

  • How long has the store manager been jacking you around about taking back that defective computer? (store manager keeps promising to take the computer back, but he never does.)

(only this word order)

to jack up

lift with a jack (device used to lift a heavy object, like a car)

  • You need to jack the car up before you change a flat tire.

  • You need to jack up the car before you change a flat tire.

raise prices

  • The theater jacked the price of a movie ticket up again.

  • The theater jacked up the price of a movie ticket again.

to get jacked up (very informal/slang)

to get into serious trouble, or to get someone else into serious trouble

  • Mortimer really jacked me up when he told the boss I'm always late to work.

  • If Marshall doesn't stop flirting with my wife, I'm going to really jack him up.

(only this word order)

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs  F-H

face up to

acknowledge the reality of something; acknowledge one's responsibility

  • After her business failed, she had to face up to owing thousands of dollars.

fall back on

depend on for an emergency

  • I always have some money saved to fall back on in emergencies.

feel up to

feel strong enough physically or emotionally to do something

  • Mario has been ill for two weeks. I wonder if he feels up to scuba diving today.

fill in

give current information to someone

  •  The new president of the company needs to be filled in on the current sales strategy, in order to make changes that will increase sales.

fill in for

substitute for

  • When CC's sick, Annie fills in for her.

find out


  • He thought his wife would never know he had a girl friend, but she found out.

find out about

discover, learn, investigate

  • You need to find out about someone you meet on the net before you meet them in person.

get across

move over an obstacle to get to another place

  • Before Andy could reach home, he had to get across the damaged bridge.

get ahead

to make progress, surpass

  • A hard worker almost always gets ahead.

get ahead of

get in front of

  • Perry got ahead of all of the other students who had started the course before he did.

get along (with)

have a relationship that has no conflict

  • They separated because they couldn't get along.

  • Norman gets along with everyone.

get around

avoid something, evade

  • If a politician can get around the truth, he/she generally will.

to eventually get something done

  • Don't worry.  I will get around to doing it.

go from place to place, walking or driving

  • My mother is very frail now, and can't get around without help.

get away with

escape capture or punishment

  • Whoever vandalized the school got away with it, because there were no witnesses.

get by with/without

use little effort

  • Jim has gotten by with as little work as possible for the last 18 months.

survive with few creature comforts

  • Roy's been trying to get by without a cooking stove, until he gets his first paycheck.

get down to business/ brass tacks (informal)

become serious about something

  • At the meeting, the boss stopped us from chatting among ourselves. She wanted to get down to business immediately.

stop talking about peripheral issues, and talk about the essential issues

  • I already know how much they want to have a baby. Let's get down to brass tacks. Is her pregnancy a danger to her life?

get on

enter a large vehicle (bus, train, plane, etc.)

  • The train will leave without us if we don't get on right now.

get on with


  • I don't have all day to listen to you. Get on with it!

get out of

escape from doing something

  • Harry tries to get out of doing housework by making silly excuses.

get rid of

give or throw away

  • Barbara got rid of the rusty patio furniture and bought a new set.

fire someone, get them to leave

  • The boss got rid of all the lazy employees.

get through with


  • When Vannie gets through with the book, Amos wants to borrow it.

get up

change from a sitting or prone position, i.e., stand up

  • We all got up and clapped for the winner!


  • What time do you get up in the morning to go to work?

give up

to stop trying to accomplish something

  • After talking to him for 3 hours, I gave up trying to reason with him.

to surrender

  • The peace protesters gave up when the police arrested a lot of them.

to sacrifice

  • Most of the time, we have to give up one thing to get something else we want.

go back on

fail to keep a promise

  • If Ralph goes back on his word to me, he will be in big trouble!

return to doing a plan that was done before

  • Terry is trying to go back on her diet, but she's really having difficulty starting again.

go for

really like, be attracted to

  • Karen really goes for the Brad Pitt type. (is attracted to a man who looks like Brad Pitt)

plan a goal

  • She's going for her PhD at the end of this semester.

to go somewhere to get something

  • Will you go for the lunch and bring it back so I don't have to stop my work?

go in for

take part in, be interested in

  • Kenneth  doesn't usually go in for junk food

  • CC doesn't go in much for sports. She goes in for reading and listening to music.

go on with


  • Go on with your conversation.  I'll wait until you are finished.

go out with

have an appointment or a date

  • She wouldn't go out with him if he were the last man on earth.

go over


  • Annette needs to go over the lessons in order to be prepared for class.

go with

harmonize with or match

  • Does this sweater go with these slacks?


  • If you can't find anyone else, Benjamin will go with you to the dentist office.

date exclusively

  • Leticia has been going with Louis for more than five years (they never date anyone else), and they're very happy not being married.

go without

to not have something

  • Eat your supper right now, or go without!

hang around

walking or waiting doing nothing while being somewhere

  • Some teenagers like to hang around the shopping malls.

wait for someone

  • I hung around waiting for her for 2 hours, and then I finally left.

hang up/hang up on

end a phone conversation

  • Sorry, Mother. I have an appointment, so I have to hang up the 'phone to get ready.

to end a 'phone conversation without saying "goodbye"

  • When he spoke to me so disrespectfully, I hung up on him!

have to do with

relate to, talk to, be with

  • William better get a haircut, or Janice won't have anything to do with him.

be related to (doesn't mean relatives in a family), be the cause or reason for something

  • Canceling my trip has nothing to do with my fear of flying.

hear from

receive telephone or mail communication

  • I haven't heard from Jane in ages.

hit on

find out/discover accidentally

  • James suddenly hit on the solution to the puzzle.

to flirt with (informal)

  • He hits on every woman who comes in the room to chat.

hold off


  • Hold off making your plans for a trip until I can go with you.

hold on to

keep possession of

  • Hold on to your hat!  It's getting very windy

  • They've been trying to hold on to the house in spite of being unemployed.

hold out against


  • Randall can hold out against the temptation of eating chocolate for less than 3 minutes.

jump all over (informal)

scold angrily

  • Yes, I lost the house keys, but that's not a reason to jump all over me.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs  F-H

fall behind

not progress at the expected rate/not be able to do something at the same speed as other people are doing it

  • Norman thought he'd be finished digging the garden by springtime, but after his operation he fell behind.

  • The class was up to the fifth chapter of the book, while Ben had fallen behind and had only read Chapter 1.

fall off


  • Sales always fall off after Christmas.

fall through

a plan or deal didn't happen, fail

  • They had planned to go to Brazil in the winter, but that plan fell through.

  • His new job fell through when the company filed for bankruptcy.

fill in


  •  Tom Cruise was making a movie, and Jay once filled in for him.

fill out (see separable list)

 gain weight

  • She would look healthier if her face filled out a little bit more.

find out

learn, discover

  • Sebastian  hopes people never find out where he hid the treasure.

fly back

return by air

  • If I fly back tonight by 5, I can still attend the wedding.

fly over

fly to over an area/to fly to some specific point

  • To reach London, one has to fly over the ocean.

  • They're flying over to our house, instead of driving over.

get ahead

make progress

  • Getting ahead in business takes a lot of hard work and a little good luck.

get around

move from place to place

  • Since the illness, Debra doesn't get around much anymore.

get away


  • You can't get away from your problems by running.

get by (on/with)

barely manage in a difficult situation/survive with difficulty

  • Lucas is having a lot of trouble getting by on so little money.

  • I guess he's gotten by with a little help from his friends.

get in

gain admission ( to a building, movie, play, etc.)

  • Jack gave us 2 complimentary tickets (free tickets), and we got in the concert without any hassle. (informal--we were able to get into the concert without any trouble)


  • George's plane gets in at about 10:30 p.m.

get off

to leave a bus, train, or plane

  • Bobby got off the plane at 11:15 p.m.

slang usage: get off

to really enjoy something a lot

  • Harold really gets off on rock concerts.

get on

mount a horse, enter a car, plane, elevator etc.

  • The Lone Ranger got on Silver and rode into the sunset.

continue doing something you'd stopped

  • The sooner you get on with the job, the sooner you will be done.

be compatible

  • Doreen gets on very well with Jonah.

get over/get past

accept something negative that happened, and not feel pain about it anymore

 feel hopeful about the future

  • So, you had some bad luck. Get over it.

  • They're rebuilding their house, and trying to get past the memories of the fire.

get up

rise from a sitting or lying down position

  • If you get hit, just get up and keep going.

get through (with)

finish, complete

  • Susan should get through with the cleaning soon.

  • Shane is getting through school by working part-time.

give out

to die

lose all of one's energy/lose the use of some part of the body

  • I will give out before I give up! (I'm willing to die, rather than surrender.)

  • My energy is giving out. That's enough gardening for today.

  • She fell in the supermarket, because her legs gave out. (legs stopped functioning)

go back


  • It's time to go back home now.

go off


  • The rocket went off in a shower of sparks.

go on


  • Sorry I barged in. Please go on with your story.

go over

to present some kind of work and have it received by people in a positive way

  • The new movie script went over very well with the head of the studio.

  • I hope it goes over as well with the movie audiences.

travel to some point

  • June had to go over to the window to get a better look at the new neighbors.

goof off (informal)

be lazy, not do anything productive

  •  Goofing off in class can be fun, until you recognize you haven't learned enough to get a job.

  • Greg goofs off all the time at work.  He is going to get fired if he doesn't stop.

grow up

to go from childhood to adulthood

  • Kids can't wait to grow up.

behave maturely

  • Some people grow older, but they never grow up. (never show normal adult behavior)

hang in; hang on/hold on

keep waiting for conditions to improve (opposite of "give up")

  • Hang in there, Peter! Someday, you'll be very successful.

wait while on the 'phone (don't hang up the receiver)

  • Please hold on (hang on), sir. The manager will be right with you.

hold out

refuse to come to an agreement

  • The striking workers were holding out for more money.


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