English Phrasal Verbs and How to Use Them

Phrasal verbs are an essential part of the English language, commonly used in spoken and written communication. They are composed of a verb together with an adverb or a preposition, or sometimes both. The meaning of a phrasal verb is often quite different from the meanings of the individual words in isolation. Here’s a guide to some of the most commonly used English phrasal verbs and how you can use them in your conversations and writing.

Come across
To find or meet by chance.
I came across an old diary in the attic that belonged to my grandmother.

Break down
To stop functioning; to lose control of emotions.
The car broke down on the way to the airport.

Get over
To recover from an illness or an unpleasant experience.
She’s just getting over the flu.

Put off
To delay or postpone something.
We’ve decided to put off our trip until next year.

Look up to
To admire or respect someone.
Many people look up to the president as a role model.

Take after
To resemble a family member in appearance or character.
He takes after his mother with his musical talent.

Run into
To meet someone unexpectedly.
I ran into my teacher at the supermarket yesterday.

Turn down
To refuse or reject something or someone.
He turned down the job offer because he’s looking for something closer to home.

Hold on
To wait a moment; to keep something.
Hold on, I think I left my keys in the car.

Make up
To invent a story or lie; also, to reconcile after a disagreement.
He made up a story about why he was late.

Hang out
To spend time relaxing or socializing.
We usually hang out at the park on weekends.

Give up
To stop trying or quit a habit.
She gave up smoking last year.

Work out
To exercise; also, to resolve a problem.
I work out at the gym three times a week.

Go on
To continue or happen.
The concert went on until midnight.

Pick up
To lift something or someone; also, to learn something new or to improve.
Can you pick up the laundry on your way back?

Understanding and using phrasal verbs can be daunting because they do not always follow logical rules. However, practice and exposure to English in various contexts can help with mastery. Try to listen to how native speakers use them in conversations, movies, and TV series, and read a lot to see how they are employed in writing. Also, make a list of phrasal verbs you encounter and practice using them in sentences of your own. With time and practice, you will find that phrasal verbs become an integral and natural part of your English vocabulary.

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