Phrasal verbs are very common in English conversation. Learning phrasal verbs is a great way to make your English sound more natural.
Some phrasal verbs are literal, this means the meaning is exactly what the words say. Some phrasal verbs are metaphorical, this means they have a completely different meaning than you would associate with the verb by itself.
|literal – look around||metaphorical – look out|
|To go someplace and move around it to see what is there|
“I enjoy visiting new places and looking around.”
|Be careful, something dangerous is coming.|
“There’s a snake in that tree! Look out!”
Another category of phrasal verbs is separable and inseparable. This simply means that some verbs can take a subject in between the verb and the particle and some cannot.
|separable – put aside||inseparable – look after|
|To save something or keep it available to use|
“I put money aside every month for when I retire.”
(The subject money can be placed in between the verb put and the adverb aside.)
|To be responsible for, or to take care of someone or something|
“My sister will look after my kids while my wife and I are on vacation.”
(We cannot put a subject between the inseparable phrasal verb look after.)
Don’t worry, learning phrasal verbs is really not that difficult. Use this post, video, and free e-Guide to help you master these common English phrasal verbs and start using them in your own conversations.
What is a phrasal verb?
In English, a phrasal verb is a combination (mixture) of two or three words to make a phrase with a single meaning. Phrasal verbs combine a verb and an adverb or a preposition.
Why should I learn phrasal verbs?
Phrasal verbs are very common in spoken English.
But they can be difficult to understand.
A phrasal verb’s meaning can be very different from the meaning of the words by themselves.
Look out is a common phrasal verb. We know look means to actively see, but when you add out you make the phrasal verb look out. The meaning becomes – “Be careful, something dangerous is coming.“
“Ball is coming! Look out!”
“There’s a snake in that tree! Look out!”
Why I made this list of 50 English phrasal verbs
I started teaching martial arts in 1992, I have been teaching English since 2006 and I have been writing this English blog since 2012. I love to teach!
During my time as an English teacher, I have explained many phrasal verbs to my students.
Phrasal verbs are used a lot in natural conversation, so my students hear them in movies and on TV, they hear them at work, in meetings, and in conversation with their English speaking friends.
Phrasal verbs are very useful, so I wanted to make this blog post for you, my international students. This is a useful list of some common phrasal verbs you might hear when talking to an English speaker. I used the meanings from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ A very useful online resource that I use with all my private students.
- look after
- look around
- look forward to
- put aside
- put away
- put somebody/something away
- put back
- put something behind you
- put off
- put something off
- put up with
- get across
- get along with
- get around
- get away
- get away with something
- get back
- get something back
- get back at somebody
- get back to somebody/something
- get back together with somebody
- get down to something
- get out of something
- get over something/somebody
- get over yourself
- get something over with
- get through something
- get through to somebody
- blow somebody/something off
- blow out
- blow something out
- blow over
- blow up
- blow up at somebody
- kick back
- kick off
- kick out
- kick in
- punch in something/punch something in
- catch on
- catch up
- reach out to somebody
- lay into somebody/something
- lay off somebody/something
- lay somebody off
- lay off something
- lay out
- check somebody/something off
- check on somebody/something
- check out
50 Common Phrasal Verbs – Meanings with examples
Phrasal Verbs with look
look after someone or something – To be responsible for someone or something, or to take care of someone or something
- “My sister will look after my kids while my wife and I are on vacation.”
= My sister will take care of my children during our vacation.
- “The new Tesla Model 3 will go on sale in August. I want Scott and Nathan to look after promotion.”
= Scott and Nathan will be responsible for advertising our new car.
look around – To go someplace (an area or building etc.) and move around it to see what is there
- “I enjoy visiting new places and looking around. You can learn a lot about an area by its buildings, stores, and people.”
= I like traveling to new places and seeing what is there.
look into something – To examine something
- “Scientists are looking into using spider silk for heart surgery.”
= Scientists are examining the idea of using spider silk for future heart surgeries.
look forward to something – To be thinking with pleasure about something that is going to happen (because you expect to enjoy it) *this phrasal verb is very common.
- “I’m really looking forward to my spring vacation this year. My family is going to Hawaii.”
= I’m excited to travel to Hawaii, thinking about it makes me happy.
- “Keiko always looks forward to her English lessons. Her teacher is very handsome.”
= Keiko feels good thinking about her future English lessons.
Phrasal Verbs with put
put aside ① – To ignore or forget something, usually a feeling or difference of opinion
- “Many people are hoping that America and North Korea can put aside their differences and have useful meetings in the future.”
= People hope that the 2 countries can forget the problems of the past and work together for peace.
② – To save something or keep it available to use
- “I put money aside every month for when I retire.”
= Every month I save money so I can use it when I stop working.
- “I put aside time every morning to do yoga.”
= I keep time in the morning just for doing yoga.
put somebody away ① – To send someone to prison, to a mental hospital, etc.
- “Allen was put away for 10 years for stealing from his job.”
= Allen was sent to jail for 10 years.
put something away ② – To put something in the place where it is kept because you have finished using it
- “In Canada, we put our barbeques (BBQ) away for the winter. Usually in our garage.”
= During the cold winter we keep our barbeque in the garage because we won’t use it.
③ – To save money to spend later (this is similar in meaning to put aside)
- “I put away $1200 every month for when I retire.”
= Every month I save $1200 so I can use it when I stop working.
- “Oliver puts $50 away every week. He’s saving up to buy a new computer.”
= Oliver is saving money every week until he has enough to buy a computer.
④ – To eat or drink large quantities of something
“I was so hungry last night. I put away a whole large pizza by myself.”
= I ate a large quantity (a lot) of pizza.
put something back – To return something to its usual place or to the place where it was before it was moved
“After you use the TV remote please put it back on the coffee table.”
= Please return the remote to the place it was (coffee table) before you used it (moved it).
put something behind you – To try to forget about an unpleasant experience and think about the future
“I just ended a bad relationship, but I’m trying to stay positive. I will put that experience behind me and focus on finding the right person for me.”
= I will forget about the unpleasant relationship I just had and think about finding a positive relationship in the future.
put something off / put off something – To change something to a later time or date
“Brian had to put off his trip to Hawaii because his mother became ill. He needed to stay home and take care of her.”
= Brian had to change the date of his vacation because of his mother’s poor health.
put off doing something
“Many people put off doing their taxes until the last minute. But if you do this, tax time becomes very stressful.”
= People plan to do something later, (tomorrow, next week, etc.) but soon there is no time (taxes are due!) and the situation becomes very stressful.
put up with something – To accept someone or something that is annoying, unpleasant, etc. without complaining
- “My neighbor is very noisy. He often plays loud music late at night. I’m not going to put up with it any longer. I’m calling our landlord tomorrow morning.”
= I’m not going to accept this unpleasant situation anymore. (noisy neighbor)
- If you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
Phrasal Verbs with get
There are a lot of phrasal verbs with get! A lot! I chose 21 common examples for this list.
get across – To be communicated or understood; to succeed in communicating something
- “I want to improve my English. I really hope to get my ideas across to my coworkers in Canada.”
= I want to communicate and be understood by my staff at my company’s Canadian office.
get along with – To have a friendly relationship with someone
- “Jordan is close with most of his family, but he doesn’t get along with his brother.”
= they don’t have a close relationship, their relationship is not good.
get around – To move from place to place or from person to person
- “My great uncle can’t walk anymore, but he gets around with an electric scooter.”
= My great uncle is able to move from place to place with the help of an electric scooter.
- “News of Mike’s divorce soon got around the office.”
= Many people talked about Mike’s divorce at the office. The information went from person to person.
get around to something – To find the time to do something
- “I was so busy with my private students that I didn’t write a blog post last week. I wanted to, but I never got around to it.”
get away ① – To have a vacation
- “I hope to get away for a couple of days next month. Work has been busy.”
= I want to take a short vacation (a couple of days) next month.
get away from someplace ② – To succeed in leaving a place
- “I won’t be able to get away from the office before 7:30.”
= I won’t be able to leave the office before 7:30.
get away with something ① – To steal something and escape with it
- “Thieves got away with computer equipment worth $30,000.”
= The thieves took $30,000 worth of computer equipment and they haven’t been caught yet.
② – To get a light punishment, especially if the punishment could have been stronger.
“Kirk drove his car into a street lamp! He was lucky to get away with only a fine.”
= Kirk’s punishment was light, it could have been much stronger.
③ – To do something wrong and not be punished for it
- “Walter tried to cheat on the test by using his smartphone, but of course, the teacher saw him. I can’t believe he thought he would get away with it.”
= Walter thought he wouldn’t be caught (and punished) cheating on the test.
get back – To return, especially to your home
- “What time did you get back from the party last night?”
= When did you return home?
- “My parents got back from their trip on Friday.”
- = My parents returned home on Friday.
get something back – To have something again after you lost it
- “Betty left work for 2 months to look after her ill Father. Her father is better now and Betty got her job back.”
= Betty left her job for 2 months but now she has it again.
get back at somebody – To do something bad to someone who has done something bad to you; to get revenge on someone
- “My brother ate all my Halloween candy. I got back at him by hiding his school bag in the basement. Now he can’t find it.”
get back to somebody – To answer a question or a message later, to reply later
- A: “Is Patrick coming to the party?”
B: “I’m not sure. I’ll find out and get back to you.”
= I’ll get the information and tell you later.
- “I sent Richard 4 emails already, I hope he gets back to me soon.”
= I hope that Richard answers my emails soon.
get back to something – To return to something
- “Why are we talking about the company dress code? This meeting is about our new budget, let’s get back to that.”
= The topic of the meeting is the company budget but then we started talking about the company dress code. Let’s return to the main subject of our meeting.
get back together (with somebody) – To start a relationship with someone again, especially a romantic relationship, after having ended a previous relationship with the same person
- “I hope that Derrick and Michelle get back together, I was sad when they broke up.”
- = I hope that Derrick and Michelle start a relationship again.
get down to something – To begin to do something; to give serious attention to something
- “No more wasting time, let’s get down to business. We have work to do.”
- = We need to give serious attention to our work now.
get out of something – To avoid a responsibility or duty
- “We have a group meeting tomorrow after work but I’m trying to get out of it.”
= Attending the meeting is my duty but I don’t want to go. I’m trying to avoid going.
get over something/somebody – To return to your usual state of health, happiness, etc. after an illness, a shock, the end of a relationship, etc.
- “Lucy is really upset after her breakup, but she’ll get over it. She’ll meet a nice guy soon, I’m sure.”
= Lucy is sad now but she will be happy again soon.
- “I spent the weekend in bed trying to get over a bad cold.”
= I rested so my body could recover and return to a healthy condition.
get over yourself – To stop thinking that you are so important; to stop being so serious
- “Many politicians feel like they are very important, but they should get over themselves and start focusing on helping the people who elected them.”
= politicians need to stop being so proud and just do their jobs, and help their people and their communities.
get something over with – To complete something unpleasant but necessary
- “I have to see the dentist to fix a cavity. I’m not looking forward to it. I’ll be glad to get it over with.”
= I will be happy when my cavity is fixed and I don’t have to visit see the dentist anymore. It’s necessary but unpleasant to fix a cavity.
get through something – To manage to do or complete something
“After 2 weeks of research and work, I finally got through updating this phrasal verb blog. I really hope it helps people who are learning English.”
= After lots of work I managed to complete this post for my blog readers.
get through (to somebody) ① – To reach someone
- “The United Nations wants to send aid into countries affected by war, but it’s hard to get through the fighting.”
= It’s hard to reach the people who need help because of the fighting.
② – To make contact with someone by telephone
- “After the big earthquake of 2010 I tried to call my wife but I couldn’t get through. All the cellular lines were too busy. Everyone was calling their families.”
= I couldn’t contact my wife.
get through to something (of a player or team) – To reach the next stage of a competition
- “Germany lost their first game to Mexico. Many people are wondering if they will get through to the next stage.” = People aren’t sure if Germany will reach the next stage of the World Cup.
Phrasal Verbs with blow
blow somebody off – To deliberately not meet someone when you said you would
- “I can’t believe Ryan blew us off again. This is the last time I make plans with him.”
= Ryan said he would meet us but he didn’t. I can’t believe he did it again.
blow something off – To deliberately not do something that you said you would
- A: “Let’s go play soccer. It’s a nice day.”
B: “I told my Dad that I would cut the grass today, but I can blow it off. Let’s play!”
= I won’t cut the grass even though I said I would.
blow out – If a flame, etc. blows out, it is put out by the wind, etc.
- “It was windy so it was hard to light the lantern. The wind kept blowing my matches out.”
= The wind put out the flame of my matches.
blow something out / blow out something – To put out a flame, etc. by blowing
- “Happy birthday! Blow out your candles and make a wish.”
= Blow on the candles and put out the flame.
blow over – To go away without having a serious effect
- “The typhoon blew over in the night. By the morning or wasn’t even raining hard.”
= The typhoon came and went without having a serious effect.
- “The president’s scandal was all over the news for 3 days, then it blew over and no one seemed interested.”
= After a few days the scandal was forgotten, it didn’t have much effect on the president.
blow up ① – To explode; to be destroyed by an explosion
- “The bomb blew up, but luckily no one was hurt.”
= The bomb exploded.
② – To fill something with air or gas so that it becomes firm
- “Help me blow up these balloons for Gene’s birthday party.”
= Help me fill these balloons with air.
blow up at somebody – To get very angry with someone
“I’m sorry I blew up at you. I’m under a lot of pressure at work. It won’t happen again.”
= I’m sorry for getting angry with you.
Phrasal Verbs with kick/punch
Kick back – To relax
- “It’s Friday night! The workweek is done and now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the weekend.”
= I can relax now because work is finished and I have Saturday and Sunday off.
kick off something / kick something off – To start
- It’s 4:00. Let’s kick this meeting off and hopefully, we can be finished by 5:30. We can all go home after that.”
= Let’s start the meeting now and maybe finish before 5:30.
kick out – To make someone leave or go away (from somewhere)
- “Jeff had too many drinks, started a fight, and got kicked out of the pub.”
= Jeff was made to leave the pub (bar) because he was causing problems (fighting).
kick in – To begin to take effect
- “We have to prepare for the coming changes. The new laws will kick in this September.”
= New laws will take effect (begin, start to be effective) so we need to prepare.
kick in something – To give your share of money or help
- “If we collect $50.00 for a new coffee machine the boss said the company will kick in another $50.00. We can buy a nice machine for $100.00.”
= If the staff can collect $50.00 the company will help with $50.00 more.
punch in something / punch something in – To put information into a device by pressing the keys or buttons
“My apartment building has a security system. You have to punch in the security code to open the front door.”
= You have to put the information (security code) into the panel beside the door to open it.
More Phrasal Verbs
catch on – To become popular or fashionable
- “I see many people wearing shirts with floral prints again. I hope they catch on, I’ve got 3 in my closet.”
= If floral shirts become popular again it’s great. I have 3 shirts that I can wear again.
- “Pokemon Go caught on like crazy in Tokyo when it was released. Now I never see people playing it.”
= Pokemon Go became very popular.
*like crazy = really or very (in a strong way)
- It caught on like crazy. = It really became popular.
- It’s raining like crazy. = It’s really raining a lot.
catch up ① – To spend extra time doing something because you have not done it earlier
- “After my vacation, I always have a lot of work to catch up on at the office.”
= I have been away from the office and I am behind on my work tasks. It will take extra time to do it after I go back to work.
② – To find out about things that have happened
- “I saw Jim today for the first time in ages. We had coffee and caught up for 2 hours this afternoon.”
= Jim and I spent 2 hours telling each other about all the things that have happened in our lives since we last saw each other.
*in ages = in a long time
- the first time in ages = the first time in a long time
- “I haven’t been to a live concert in ages.”
③ – To reach someone who is ahead by going faster – catch up (with somebody)
- “Don’t wait for me. You guys go ahead and I’ll catch up with you later.”
= I will reach you (get to where you will be) after.
④ – To reach the same level or standard as someone who was better or more advanced
- “Jason was sick for 6 weeks and missed school. When he went back to class he had to work hard to catch up.”
= Jason had to work very hard to reach the same level as his classmates. His classmates had 6 weeks of school that Jason didn’t have so they were more advanced.
reach out to somebody – To show someone that you are interested in them and/or want to help them
- “Social media is a good way to reach out to people who are studying English.”
= Using social media is a good way to connect with English students that I can help.
lay into somebody/something – To attack someone violently, physically or with words
“My Dad laid into me for scratching his car last night.”
= My Dad really yelled at me because I scratched his car.
lay off somebody/something – Used to tell someone to stop doing something
- “We should lay off Peter, it wasn’t his fault.”
= We should stop blaming Peter, he doesn’t deserve our anger. He didn’t do anything.
lay somebody off / lay off somebody – To stop employing someone because there is not enough work for them to do
- “The company lost money last year so they need to lay off 50 workers next month. I hope my job is safe.”
= 50 people will lose their jobs because the company doesn’t have enough money.
lay off something – To stop using something
- “I had a terrible hangover this morning. I need to lay off beer for a while.”
= I have to stop drinking beer. I felt terrible this morning (because I drank too much).
lay out ① – To plan how something should look and arrange it in this way
“This is a well laid out web page.”
= The web page is arranged well. It’s clear and easy to follow. All pages and links are easy to find.
Related noun layout – “This page has a nice layout.”
② – To present a plan, an argument, etc. clearly and carefully
- “My fee, job description, and responsibilities are all laid out in the contract.”
- = the details of my job are presented clearly on the contract.
check somebody/something off – To put a mark (✓) beside a name or an item on a list to show that something has been dealt with
- “I love having a to-do app on my smartphone. It’s great for reminding me what I have to do each day. After I complete a task I can check it off.”
= I like to have a list of things to do. I can put a mark (or click a button on my phone) to show that something has been done.
check on somebody/something – To make sure that there is nothing wrong with someone or something
- “Can you go downstairs and check on the kids? It’s very quiet down there.”
= Can you go downstairs and make sure that the children are okay?
check out – To be found to be true or acceptable after being examined
- “He said that he had to work late but his secretary said he left the office at 4:30. His story doesn’t check out.”
= After I examined the details of his story it seems suspicious.
check out (of…) – To pay your bill and leave a hotel
- “It’s almost 11:00, we have to check out now.”
= You need to pay your bill and leave your room by 11:00.
Related noun checkout – “I always ask for a late checkout. I like to sleep in.”
check somebody/something out / check out somebody/something – To look at or examine a person or thing that seems interesting or attractive
- “There’s a sale at the car dealership near my house. I’m going to go this afternoon and check out the new cars.”
= I will go to the car dealership and look at the new cars.
50 Common Phrasal Verbs – VIDEO
Watch the video below to review the Phrasal Verbs and improve your English listening skills.
50 English Phrasal Verbs e-Guide
Click below and get your 50 English Phrasal Verbs PDF.
I hope you enjoyed this list of 50 English phrasal verbs. I wanted to build a useful list with lots of real example sentences to help students learn these important expressions. Leave a comment for me below and tell me which phrasal verb you will use today!
Thanks to: Pointing out frequent phrasal verbs: A corpus‐based analysis and English phrasal verbs Wikipedia for the helpful resources.