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Here are some things you should know about phrasal verbs in English before we go any further:
So, what do you think about phrasal verbs so far? You are probably thinking, well, they are just like everything else when it comes to English grammar – there are no rules! Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, there are some rules, but phrasal verbs like to play around with the rules a lot! This is why many people find using phrasal verbs difficult. I want to help with that some today, but to do so we are going to have to think about phrasal verbs differently.
Here is how I recommend you think about phrasal verbs in English: Remember, phrasal verbs are (mostly) two-word phrases. They are made up a verb + adverb or a verb + preposition. When you are learning phrasal verbs, it is best to think of them as a unit, not separate parts. Think of each phrasal verb as though it is its own vocabulary word. Try to learn that vocabulary word in context, don’t just memorize it from a list. The infographic from Grammar.net above does a nice job of helping you do this. For example, it gives you a phrasal verb (“look after”), the meaning of the phrasal verb (“attend to”), and presents the phrasal verb in context (“Babysitters look after children.”).
This infographic has a nice starter list of ‘The 15 Most Useful Phrasal Verbs’ in English, according to Grammar.net. I have 15 more useful phrasal verbs I want to share with you too. Take a look at all 30 of these phrasal verbs and pick 5 you want to use in the next week. Then work on becoming familiar with and using them. The following week come back to this post again and pick 5 more phrasal verbs to work on for the next week. This is a great way to work on building your vocabulary a little at a time.
ask (someone) out – to invite (someone) on a date
Example: After working up the courage all day, Jenny asked Bill out.
bring (something) up – to start talking about something
Example: My mother and aunt always bring marriage up when my boyfriend and I are around.
cheer up – to make someone happier
Example: Paul needed to be cheered up after hearing he did not get the job he really wanted.
drop out – to quit or stop attending a class/school
Example: Sometimes when I am frustrated with school I just want to drop out.
end up – to reach a decision (or take an action) after thinking about it for a while
Example: We ended up moving to Oregon, but it took us a long time to finally make the move.
fill out – to write information in where it is missing, such as on a form
Example: The form must be filled out completely before it is turned in.
get together – to meet with people
Example: We all decided to get together at James’ house before the party.
look over – to check something for mistakes
Example: The teacher told everyone to look over their tests before turning them in to be graded.
make up – to forgive someone (or one another)
Example: After a year of fighting the sisters finally made up when their mother became sick.
run out – to have none left, for something to be empty
Example: The restaurant usually runs out of their desserts early.
shop around – to compare prices
Example: It is best to shop around before buying a new car.
try (something) out – to test, usually for the first time
Example: Harry is going to try my new recipe out tonight.
use up – to finish the entire amount of something
Example: We have used up all the time we have on the meter, so we need to move the car or put in more money.
work out – to exercise
Example: I work out at the gym from 10-11am everyday.
work out – to successfully complete something
Example: When our plan finally worked out we all cheered.