Phrasal Verbs

A combination of words that perform the function of a verb is called phrasal verbs.Phrasal verbs necessarily include a verb and either an adverb or a preposition (or both). They form a complete meaningful unit because the words that comprise a phrasal verb together describe one action. Let us take a look at some examples given below to get a better idea of what phrasal verbs are:


Phrasal Verb Meaning Example Sentences
ask around To ask the same question from many people I did not see him here but I will ask around.

I don’t think there are vacancies, but I will ask around the office

add up to something To equal/corroborate a fact She explained why the work was not ready, but her story does not add up.

The clues we found at the house and the museum must add up to something.

ask someone out To invite someone on a date I want to ask her out but she is dating someone.

I wish I could muster the courage to ask her out.

blow something up To exaggerate The girls in school always blow gossip up to huge proportions.

My mother blows my achievements up in front of guests.

back someone up To support The captain will not back him up just because he is his son.

You may be wrong but I will back you up because you are my brother.

blow up To explode The army is going to blow up that building with a bomb.

Our calculations were wrong and the rocket blew up just after liftoff.

break down To stop functioning (usually for vehicle, machine, etc.) The old train is certain to break down if it is not maintained properly.

He was driving recklessly and the old car broke down.

break something down To divide and subdivide They broke the students down into groups of four.

The detective said they were still breaking the information down to make sense of it.

break into something To enter forcibly/ interrupt The newspaper reported a break-in at the bank.

Last night, two thieves broke into the house next door.

break up To end a relationship A break up can lead to emotional trauma.

After being together for five years they have decided to break up.

break out To escape The Taliban helped 500 inmates escape from the Afghan jail.

Ten inmates broke out of prison in the southern town yesterday.

break out To spread There was a world panic when SARS broke out in China in 2002.

The news about the adulterous affair will break out in tomorrow’s newspaper.

bring someone down To upset someone or to make someone unhappy The boss manages to bring down my mood every day.

His pessimistic comments bring down the whole group.

bring someone up raise a child I was brought up in a conservative Hindu family.

After being abandoned by his parents in Ghana he was brought up by an Italian couple.

bring up To initiate a conversation on a subject My sister walks out of the room when I bring up the subject of sports.

I will bring up the issue of cleanliness in the meeting today.

call around To phone different places/people We called around but we could not find the spare part we needed.

I have not seen him today but I will call around and inquire.

call someone back To return a phone call Please call me back when you get this message.

I could not answer your call earlier but I will call back shortly.

call something off To abandon or cancel The referee has decided to call off the game due to bad weather.

They have decided to call off the wedding due to financial troubles.

call someone up To phone someone The boss wants you to call up the client now.

She will call you up later to discuss the issue.

calm down relax after being angry It is going to be okay, please calm down.

The crew asked us to calm down during turbulence.

catch up To get to the same point as someone else/ or to work hard in order to equal with someone You will have to walk faster if you want to catch up with Maya.

You have studied a lot more and I need to catch up.

check in To reach and register at a hotel or airport When you arrive at the airport, you have to check in at the airline desk.

At a hotel, check-in is normally required in order to obtain a room key.

check out To leave a hotel You will have to return the room when you check out of the hotel.

Please ensure that you are in possession of all your belongings before checking-out of the hotel.

cheer up Used as an expression to ask someone to be happy She cheered up when she heard that the result was positive.

Cheer up, it is your birthday!

chip in To contribute/help If everybody chips in, we can get a bottle of the most expensive wine.

I do not have enough money for a pizza so all of you need to chip in as well.

clean something up To tidy a place They need to clean up the platform because it is really dirty.

You must clean up the room before the president arrives.

come across something find unexpectedly I came across these books when I was tidying the cupboard.

While reading this book I came across new information regarding dinosaurs.

come apart To separate/ fall down/ break down The flimsy decorations came apart halfway through the celebrations.

The group of friends came apart once they went to different colleges.

come down withsomething To become sick Her son came down with the flu last weekend.

My throat is sore; I think I am coming down with a cold.

come forward To support/ to take an initiative The hospital is anxious for more donors to come forward.

Who will come forward and take the responsibility?

come from somewhere To originate in He resides in Brazil although he comes from Spain.

Most of the stench comes from the open drain behind the house.

count on someone/something To rely on a person or thing Can I count on you to complete this essay by tonight?

I could not complete the task so I am counting on you to do it.

cross something out To draw a line through something Kindly cross out your old telephone number and write the new one.

That word is wrong and you need to cross it out as soon as possible.

cut back on something To use or consume less of something My financial advisor has asked me to cut back on unnecessary expenditure.

We need to cut back on driving since the price of petrol is at an all-time high.

cut into To interrupt in between something or someone He cut into the argument with a point of his own.

He asked if could cut in on the dance between Tim and me.

cut something off To cut something with something sharp The butter is frozen. Cut off a small blob and let it rest outside so that it melts faster.

He cut off a small piece from the large slab of cheese using a knife.

cut something off To stop providing/to break all relations with someone The cable company cut off our connection because we did not pay our bill.

After he was convicted, his family decided to cut him off.

cut something out To remove pieces or part of something She looked at the article and cut the introduction out and rewrote it.

She cut a piece out of the chunk of cheese and placed it on the counter.