Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verbs are verbs that consist of two words: verb + particle (adverb or preposition).
Tom walked up the stairs.


Phrasal verbs are often used in informal language. Some of them can be used in formal language as well.

List of frequent phrasal verbs

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs. There are, however, many more phrasal verbs, but you don't have to memorise them because they are quite easy to recognise.
Phrasal Verb
to ask s.o. out
He asked out his boss for dinner.
to blow up
The whole building was blown up.
to break down
Finally she broke down and cried.
to break in
An alarm will prevent criminals from breaking in.
to calm down
Will you please stop screaming and calm down?
to cut off
He cut off a piece of wood.
to dress up
They are going to a fancy restaurant where you are supposed to dress up.
to figure out
Did you figure out who the thief was?
to find out
Did you find out anything new?
to give in
This is too difficult! I give in!
to hold on
Hold on for a second – I'll be right back!
to look for
I am looking for my wallet, have you seen it?


As you can see, phrasal verbs consist of normal verbs + particle (in, on, off…). The meaning of the verb often changes fundamentally by adding a particle. For example:
  • to look She looks gorgeous today.
  • to look for She is looking for her bag, she has lost it somewhere.
  • to hold Her husband was holding the baby.
  • to hold on Hold on for a second, I'll be right back!
In the exercise below you have to find the right "translation" for some phrasal verbs! Therefore you should read through the example sentences first and guess the meaning of the words by looking at their context.
  • Jenny's grandmother is very old. Jenny looks after her every day.
  • She has to put up with a lot of stress, but she still enjoys spending time with her grandmother.
  • The two of them get along very well.
  • The good times they have together make up for all the stress.
  • Jenny turned down the offer to send her into a rest home.
  • Instead, the two of them keep on living together in Jenny's house.
  1. to put up with
    • to build something
    • to tolerate
  2. to make up
    • to invent something (a lie, a story)
    • to put on make-up
  3. to keep on
    • to keep something and not give it away
    • to continue doing something
  4. to turn down
    • to reject something
    • to put something on the floor
  5. to look after
    • to take care of someone or something
    • to follow somebody
  6. to get along
    • to like someone and not fight
    • to walk on a certain path
In the second exercise, take a look at the sentences and decide whether they contain phrasal verbs or not!
  • My dad always told me I shouldn't do this.
  • I am going to sleep over at my best friend's place tonight.
  • I don't understand how she can pull through with all that cheating!
  • We should look that up in a dictionary.
  • Reading can be so much fun!
  • Everyone can see that she looks down on him.
  • We went to a fun park and rode a rollercoaster.
  • I never realised how smart he is!
Not containing Phrasal Verbs
Containing Phrasal Verbs

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