Vocabulary

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

There is a huge gap that prevents people from communicating naturally in English. It is phrasal verbs (or verb phrases).

Understand what phrasal verbs are and how to use them will certainly help you feel more confident and comfortable when using English. Hence, undeniably, phrasal verbs can be considered as a great tool if you want to communicate fluently like a native.

Therefore, in this article, Learn English Fun Way will share with you all you need to know about phrasal verbs and a list of the most common phrasal verbs that can be applied in your daily conversations.

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

I) What are phrasal verbs?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, a phrasal verb is  a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or an adverb or both, the meaning of which is different from the meaning of its separate parts.

To illustrate, I will give you the example of the word “Pick”.

Pick (verb): to choose somebody/something from a group of people or things

But, when we add the word “Up” behind “Pick”, what will happen ?

We have the phrasal verb “Pick up”. So what does “pick up” mean ? Does it have the same meaning as “pick”

Absolutely no! The meaning of “pick up” has changed. Depending on different contexts, it will have different meanings. For examples:

  • To get better, stronger, etc.; to improve
    The weather is picking up lately, isn’t it?
  • To go somewhere in your car and collect somebody who is waiting for you
    Can you pick up Jenny after football practice?
  • To collect something from a place
    Can you pick up my parcel from the post office?
  • To answer a phone
    The phone rang and rang and nobody picked up.
  • To get information or a skill by chance rather than by making a deliberate effort
    She picked up Spanish when she was living in Mexico.

Wow, just only by adding “up” behind “pick”, we have made big changes in the meaning.

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

II) What are characteristics of phrasal verbs?

1, Transitive and Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb can be transitive or intransitive. The best way to understand the difference between these two types of verbs is by trying to find the direct object. The direct object is a noun or noun phrase referring to a person or thing which is receiving the action of a transitive verb. To put it simply:

  • Transitive phrasal verbs have a direct object
  • Intransitive phrasal verbs have no direct object

For examples, “bump into” is a transitive phrasal verb. Hence, it muse be followed by an object.  You can’t say  “Yesterday, I bumped into. Haven’t seen her in years!” ; instead, you have to say ” Yesterday, I bumped into Sarah. Haven’t seen her in years!”. Similarly, “grow up” is an intransitive phrasal verb; therefore, it can’t be followed by a direct object. You can’t say “I grow her up quickly”; instead, you have to say “She grows up quickly”.

Remember! Some phrasal verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. For examples: “I wake up”;  “I wake up Sarah”

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

2, Separable and Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

A large number of phrasal verbs are transitive, meaning that they take an object. These phrasal verbs have two types, namely “separable” and “inseparable” ones.

Separable phrasal verbs can be broken up by other words, while inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be separated by other words.

For examples: “Wake up” is a separable phrasal verb, so you can say “wake someone up”. “Look up to” is an inseparable phrasal verb, so you have to say  “look up to someone” instead of saying “look someone up to”.

Understanding a phrasal verb is transitive or intransitive, separable or inseparable will certainly have you get the right meaning of the phrase as well as improve English better.

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

III) How to memorize phrasal verbs ?

Before giving you the most common verb phrasal verbs in daily English communication, Learn English Fun Way will share a tip for you to memorize the phrasal verbs more easily: Study by topics.

Imagine you are enjoying a car race. There will be a lot of phrasal verbs related to “pull” used in this situation:

” Hamilton pulled up at the pit stop, Vettel is pulling away slowly, Rosberg is pulling ahead.”

Do you feel like you are immersed in the race? Now come to the airport. You will probably hear or see announcements regarding your luggage:

” The plane takes off in 10 minutes, don’t forget to look after your luggage.”

So in order to practice using phrasal verbs, write a topic or situation in the middle of the page. Then add all  phrasal verbs that you know (or search) related to that topic or situation. Do not forget to consider whether each phrasal verb is either transitive or intransitive, integral or inseparable.

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

IV) Common phrasal verbs for your daily conversations:

Number Phrasal Verbs Meanings Examples
1Account forTo give an explanation of somethingI couldn’t account for the disappearance of the ledge book.
2Bring upTo care for a child, teaching him or her how to behave, etc.My mother brought me up to be a sympathetic and caring person.
3Carry outTo do and complete a taskShe couldn’t carry it out by herself, so she asked me for help.
4Check outTo find out if something is correct, or if somebody is acceptableWe had to check out the package before sending it.
5Clean up To remove dirt, etc. from somewhereI have to cook, wash clothes and clean up the house on my own.
6Do away withTo stop doing or having something; to make something endHe thinks it's time we did away with the monarchy.
7Do without To manage without and accept the lack ofIf you’re too lazy to fetch the ice cream, you can just do without
8Dress upTo put on special clothes, eg fancy dress
Peter dressed up this T-shirt for his birthday
9Drop by​To pay an informal visit to a person or a placeI will drop by sometime.
10End upTo reach or come to an end, usually unpleasantI knew that he would end up in prison.
11Figure outTo understandI can’t figure out why he said that.
12Find outTo discoverI found out what was troubling her.
13Go along with To agree with somebody/somethingI don't go along with her views on private medicine.
14Get off somebodyUsed especially to tell somebody to stop touching you or another personGet off me, that hurts!
15Be/ get rid ofTo have removed, to remove; to free oneself fromI’m rid of my debts at last.
16Pass awayTo die. People say ‘pass away’ to avoid saying ‘die’.His mother passed away last year.
17Look after = take care ofTo be responsible for or to take care of somebody/something/yourselfWho's going to look after the children while you're away?
18Make up your mind​To decide somethingHave you made up your minds where to go for your honeymoon?
19Run out ofTo use up or finish a supply of somethingCould I have a cigarette? I seem to have run out.
20Show offTo try to impress others by talking about your abilities, possessions, etc.He's just showing off because that girl he likes is here.
21Move on (to something)​To start doing or discussing something newWe move on to the next item on the agenda.
22Talk over​To discuss something carefully and completely, especially in order to reach an agreement or make a decisionThey talked over the quotation and decided to give it their approval
23Work outTo calculate somethingIt’ll work out cheaper to travel by train
24Hold onUsed to tell somebody to wait or stopHold on a minute while I will be back
25Wake up = get up To stop sleepingShe wakes up early.
26Stand for(Not used in the progressive tenses)
to be an abbreviation or symbol of something
‘The book’s by T.C. Smith.’ ‘What does the ‘T.C.’ stand for?’
27Break down(Of a machine or vehicle) to stop working because of a faultThe air- condition system has broken down.
28Turn downTo reject or refuse to consider an offer, a proposal, etc. or the person who makes itHe turned down a scholarship from his university
29Look back onTo think about something in the pastShe usually looks back on her parent.
30Gear up for = prepare for​To prepare yourself/somebody/something to do somethingMy team is gearing up for the presentation

30 Common Phrasal Verbs That You Should Know For English Speaking

Learn English Fun Way believes that mastering the above-mentioned phrasal verbs will help you improve your English communication and make your speaking sound more natural. Remember to practice everyday and make efforts to discover new phrasal verbs and apply them in your daily conversations. Thank you for reading and see you in the next writing!

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