What are phrasal verbs?

1. A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition or adverb which creates a meaning different from the original verb.

I ran into my teacher at the movies last night. run + into = meet
He ran away when he was 15. run + away = leave home

2. Some phrasal verbs are intransitive. An intransitive verb cannot be followed by an object.

He suddenly showed up. "show up" cannot take an object

3. Some phrasal verbs are transitive. A transitive verb can be followed by an object.

I made up the story. "story" is the object of "make up"

4. Some transitive phrasal verbs are separable. The object is placed between the verb and the preposition. In this Phrasal Verb Dictionary, separable phrasal verbs are marked by placing a * between the verb and the preposition / adverb.

I talked my mother into letting me borrow the car.
She looked the phone number up.

5. Some transitive phrasal verbs are inseparable. The object is placed after the preposition. In this Phrasal Verb Dictionary, inseparable phrasal verbs are marked by placing a + after the preposition / adverb.

I ran into an old friend yesterday.
They are looking into the problem.

6. Some transitive phrasal verbs can take an object in both places. In this Phrasal Verb Dictionary, such phrasal verbs are marked with both * and + .

I looked the number up in the phone book.
I looked up the number in the phone book.

7. WARNING! Although many phrasal verbs can take an object in both places, you must put the object between the verb and the preposition if the object is a pronoun.

I looked the number up in the phone book.
I looked up the number in the phone book.
I looked it up in the phone book. correct
I looked up it in the phone book. incorrect

List of Phrasal Verbs

phrasal verbmeaningexample sentence
ask sby outinvite on a dateBrian asked Judy out to dinner and a movie.
ask aroundask many people the same questionI asked around but nobody has seen my wallet.
add up tosthgequalYour purchases add up to$205.32.
back sthg upreverseYou'll have to back up your car so that I can get out.
back sby upsupportMy wife backed me upover my decision to quit my job.
blow upexplodeThe racing car blew upafter it crashed into the fence.
blow sthg upadd airWe have to blow 50 balloons up for the party.
break downstop functioning (vehicle, machine)Our car broke down at the side of the highway in the snowstorm.
break downget upsetThe woman broke downwhen the police told her that her son had died.
break sthgdowndivide into smaller partsOur teacher broke the final project down into three separate parts.
break inforce entry to a buildingSomebody broke in last night and stole our stereo.
break intosthgenter forciblyThe firemen had to break into the room to rescue the children.
break sthg inwear sthg a few times so that it doesn't look/feel newI need to break these shoes in before we run next week.
break ininterruptThe TV station broke in to report the news of the president's death.
break upend a relationshipMy boyfriend and I broke up before I moved to America.
break upstart laughing (informal)The kids just broke up as soon as the clown started talking.
break outescapeThe prisoners broke out of jail when the guards weren't looking.
break out insthgdevelop a skin conditionI broke out in a rash after our camping trip.
bring sbydownmake unhappyThis sad music is bringingme down.
bring sby upraise a childMy grandparents broughtme up after my parents died.
bring sthg upstart talking about a subjectMy mother walks out of the room when my fatherbrings up sports.
bring sthg upvomitHe drank so much that hebrought his dinner up in the toilet.
call aroundphone many different places/peopleWe called around but we weren't able to find the car part we needed.
call sby backreturn a phone callI called the company backbut the offices were closed for the weekend.
call sthg offcancelJason called the weddingoff because he wasn't in love with his fiancé.
call on sbyask for an answer or opinionThe professor called on me for question 1.
call on sbyvisit sbyWe called on you last night but you weren't home.
call sby upphoneGive me your phone number and I will call youup when we are in town.
calm downrelax after being angryYou are still mad. You need to calm down before you drive the car.
not care forsby/ sthgnot like (formal)I don't care for his behaviour.
catch upget to the same point as sby elseYou'll have to run faster than that if you want tocatch up with Marty.
check inarrive and register at a hotel or airportWe will get the hotel keys when we check in.
check outleave a hotelYou have to check out of the hotel before 11:00 AM.
check sby/ sthg outlook at carefully, investigateThe company checks outall new employees.
check outsby/ sthglook at (informal)Check out the crazy hair on that guy!
cheer upbecome happierShe cheered up when she heard the good news.
cheer sby upmake happierI brought you some flowers to cheer you up.
chip inhelpIf everyone chips in we can get the kitchen painted by noon.
clean sthg uptidy, cleanPlease clean up your bedroom before you go outside.
come acrosssthgfind unexpectedlyI came across these old photos when I was tidying the closet.
come apartseparateThe top and bottom come apart if you pull hard enough.
come down with sthgbecome sickMy nephew came down with chicken pox this weekend.
come forwardvolunteer for a task or to give evidenceThe woman came forwardwith her husband's finger prints.
come fromsomewhereoriginate inThe art of origami comes from Asia.
count on sby/ sthgrely onI am counting on you to make dinner while I am out.
cross sthg outdraw a line throughPlease cross out your old address and write your new one.
cut back onsthgconsume lessMy doctor wants me to cut back on sweets and fatty foods.
cut sthg downmake sthg fall to the groundWe had to cut the old tree in our yard down after the storm.
cut ininterruptYour father cut in while I was dancing with your uncle.
cut inpull in too closely in front of another vehicleThe bus driver got angry when that car cut in.
cut instart operating (of an engine or electrical device)The air conditioner cuts inwhen the temperature gets to 22°C.
cut sthg offremove with sthg sharpThe doctors cut off his leg because it was severely injured.
cut sthg offstop providingThe phone company cut offour phone because we didn't pay the bill.
cut sby offtake out of a willMy grandparents cut my father off when he remarried.
cut sthg outremove part of sthg (usually with scissors and paper)I cut this ad out of the newspaper.
do sby/ sthgoverbeat up, ransack (BrE, informal)He's lucky to be alive. His shop was done over by a street gang.
do sthg overdo again (AmE)My teacher wants me to domy essay over because she doesn't like my topic.
do away withsthgdiscardIt's time to do away withall of these old tax records.
do sthg upfasten, closeDo your coat up before you go outside. It's snowing!
dress upwear nice clothingIt's a fancy restaurant so we have to dress up.
drop backmove back in a position/groupAndrea dropped back to third place when she fell off her bike.
drop in/by/overcome without an appointmentI might drop in/by/overfor tea sometime this week.
drop sby/ sthgofftake sby/ sthg somewhere and leave them/it thereI have to drop my sister offat work before I come over.
drop outquit a class, school etcI dropped out of Science because it was too difficult.
eat outeat at a restaurantI don't feel like cooking tonight. Let's eat out.
end upeventually reach/do/decideWe ended up renting a movie instead of going to the theatre.
fall apartbreak into piecesMy new dress fell apart in the washing machine.
fall downfall to the groundThe picture that you hung up last night fell down this morning.
fall outseparate from an interiorThe money must havefallen out of my pocket.
fall out(of hair, teeth) become loose and unattachedHis hair started to fall outwhen he was only 35.
figure sthgoutunderstand, find the answerI need to figure out how to fit the piano and the bookshelf in this room.
fill sthg into write information in blanks, as on a form (BrE)Please fill in the form with your name, address, and phone number.
fill sthg outto write information in blanks, as on a form (AmE)The form must be filled outin capital letters.
fill sthg upfill to the topI always fill the water jugup when it is empty.
find outdiscoverWe don't know where he lives. How can we find out?
find sthg outdiscoverWe tried to keep the time of the party a secret, but Samantha found it out.
get sthgacross/overcommunicate, make understandableI tried to get my pointacross/over to the judge but she wouldn't listen.
get along/onlike each otherI was surprised how well my new girlfriend and my sistergot along/on.
get aroundhave mobilityMy grandfather can get around fine in his new wheelchair.
get awaygo on a vacationWe worked so hard this year that we had to get away for a week.
get away with sthgdo without being noticed or punishedJason always gets away with cheating in his maths tests.
get backreturnWe got back from our vacation last week.
get sthg backreceive sthg you had beforeLiz finally got her Science notes back from my room-mate.
get back atsbyretaliate, take revengeMy sister got back at me for stealing her shoes. She stole my favourite hat.
get back intosthgbecome interested in sthg againI finally got back into my novel and finished it.
get on sthgstep onto a vehicleWe're going to freeze out here if you don't let us get on the bus.
get over sthgrecover from an illness, loss, difficultyI just got over the flu and now my sister has it.
get over sthgovercome a problemThe company will have to close if it can't get over the new regulations.
get round tosthgfinally find time to do (AmE: get around to sthg)I don't know when I am going to get round towriting the thank you cards.
get togethermeet (usually for social reasons)Let's get together for a BBQ this weekend.
get upget out of bedI got up early today to study for my exam.
get upstandYou should get up and give the elderly man your seat.
give sbyawayreveal hidden information about sbyHis wife gave him away to the police.
give sbyawaytake the bride to the altarMy father gave me away at my wedding.
give sthgawayruin a secretMy little sister gave the surprise party away by accident.
give sthgawaygive sthg to sby for freeThe library was giving away old books on Friday.
give sthgbackreturn a borrowed itemI have to give these skatesback to Franz before his hockey game.
give inreluctantly stop fighting or arguingMy boyfriend didn't want to go to the ballet, but he finally gave in.
give sthg outgive to many people (usually at no cost)They were giving out free perfume samples at the department store.
give sthg upquit a habitI am giving up smoking as of January 1st.
give upstop tryingMy maths homework was too difficult so I gave up.
go after sbyfollow sbyMy brother tried to go afterthe thief in his car.
go after sthgtry to achieve sthgI went after my dream and now I am a published writer.
go againstsbycompete, opposeWe are going against the best soccer team in the city tonight.
go aheadstart, proceedPlease go ahead and eat before the food gets cold.
go backreturn to a placeI have to go back home and get my lunch.
go outleave home to go on a social eventWe're going out for dinner tonight.
go out withsbydateJesse has been going out with Luke since they met last winter.
go over sthgreviewPlease go over your answers before you submit your test.
go overvisit sby nearbyI haven't seen Tina for a long time. I think I'll go over for an hour or two.
go withoutsthgsuffer lack or deprivationWhen I was young, wewent without winter boots.
grow apartstop being friends over timeMy best friend and I grew apart after she changed schools.
grow backregrowMy roses grew back this summer.
grow upbecome an adultWhen Jack grows up he wants to be a fireman.
grow out ofsthgget too big forElizabeth needs a new pair of shoes because she hasgrown out of her old ones.
grow intosthggrow big enough to fitThis bike is too big for him now, but he should grow into it by next year.
hand sthgdowngive sthg used to sby elseI handed my old comic books down to my little cousin.
hand sthg insubmitI have to hand in my essay by Friday.
hand sthg outto distribute to a group of peopleWe will hand out the invitations at the door.
hand sthgovergive (usually unwillingly)The police asked the man tohand over his wallet and his weapons.
hang instay positive (informal)Hang in there. I'm sure you'll find a job very soon.
hang onwait a short time (informal)Hang on while I grab my coat and shoes!
hang outspend time relaxing (informal)Instead of going to the party we are just going tohang out at my place.
hang upend a phone callHe didn't say goodbye before he hung up.
hold sby/ sthgbackprevent from doing/goingI had to hold my dog backbecause there was a cat in the park.
hold sthgbackhide an emotionJamie held back his tears at his grandfather's funeral.
hold onwait a short timePlease hold on while I transfer you to the Sales Department.
hold ontosby/ sthghold firmly using your hands or armsHold onto your hat because it's very windy outside.
hold sby/ sthguprobA man in a black mask heldthe bank up this morning.
keep on doing sthgcontinue doingKeep on stirring until the liquid comes to a boil.
keep sthgfrom sbynot tellWe kept our relationshipfrom our parents for two years.
keep sby/ sthg outstop from enteringTry to keep the wet dogout of the living room.
keep sthg upcontinue at the same rateIf you keep those resultsup you will get into a great college.
let sby downfail to support or help, disappointI need you to be on time. Don't let me down this time.
let sby inallow to enterCan you let the cat inbefore you go to school?
log in (or on)sign in (to a website, database etc)I can't log in to Facebook because I've forgotten my password.
log out (oroff)sign out (of a website, database etc)If you don't log offsomebody could get into your account.
look aftersby/ sthgtake care ofI have to look after my sick grandmother.
look down onsbythink less of, consider inferiorEver since we stole that chocolate bar your dad haslooked down on me.
look for sby/ sthgtry to findI'm looking for a red dress for the wedding.
look forward to sthgbe excited about the futureI'm looking forward to the Christmas break.
look into sthginvestigateWe are going to look intothe price of snowboards today.
look outbe careful, vigilant, and take noticeLook out! That car's going to hit you!
look out forsby/ sthgbe especially vigilant forDon't forget to look out forsnakes on the hiking trail.
look sthgovercheck, examineCan you look over my essay for spelling mistakes?
look sthg upsearch and find information in a reference book or databaseWe can look her phone number up on the Internet.
look up tosbyhave a lot of respect forMy little sister has alwayslooked up to me.
make sthg upinvent, lie about sthgJosie made up a story about why we were late.
make upforgive each otherWe were angry last night, but we made up at breakfast.
make sby upapply cosmetics toMy sisters made me up for my graduation party.
mix sthg upconfuse two or more thingsI mixed up the twins' names again!
pass awaydieHis uncle passed away last night after a long illness.
pass outfaintIt was so hot in the church that an elderly lady passed out.
pass sthg outgive the same thing to many peopleThe professor passed the textbooks out before class.
pass sthg updecline (usually sthg good)I passed up the job because I am afraid of change.
pay sby backreturn owed moneyThanks for buying my ticket. I'll pay you back on Friday.
pay for sthgbe punished for doing sthg badThat bully will pay for being mean to my little brother.
pick sthg outchooseI picked out three sweaters for you to try on.
point sby/ sthg outindicate with your fingerI'll point my boyfriend outwhen he runs by.
put sthgdownput what you are holding on a surface or floorYou can put the groceriesdown on the kitchen counter.
put sby downinsult, make sby feel stupidThe students put the substitute teacher downbecause his pants were too short.
put sthg offpostponeWe are putting off our trip until January because of the hurricane.
put sthg outextinguishThe neighbours put the fireout before the firemen arrived.
put sthgtogetherassembleI have to put the cribtogether before the baby arrives.
put up withsby/ sthgtolerateI don't think I can put up with three small children in the car.
put sthg onput clothing/ accessories on your bodyDon't forget to put on your new earrings for the party.
run into sby/ sthgmeet unexpectedlyI ran into an old school-friend at the mall.
run over sby/ sthgdrive a vehicle over a person or thingI accidentally ran over your bicycle in the driveway.
run over/throughsthgrehearse, reviewLet's run over/throughthese lines one more time before the show.
run awayleave unexpectedly, escapeThe child ran away from home and has been missing for three days.
run outhave none leftWe ran out of shampoo so I had to wash my hair with soap.
send sthgbackreturn (usually by mail)My letter got sent back to me because I used the wrong stamp.
set sthg uparrange, organizeOur boss set a meeting upwith the president of the company.
set sby uptrick, trapThe police set up the car thief by using a hidden camera.
shop aroundcompare pricesI want to shop around a little before I decide on these boots.
show offact extra special for people watching (usually boastfully)He always shows off on his skateboard
sleep overstay somewhere for the night (informal)You should sleep overtonight if the weather is too bad to drive home.
sort sthg outorganize, resolve a problemWe need to sort the billsout before the first of the month.
stick to sthgcontinue doing sthg, limit yourself to one particular thingYou will lose weight if youstick to the diet.
switch sthgoffstop the energy flow, turn offThe light's too bright. Could you switch it off.
switch sthgonstart the energy flow, turn onWe heard the news as soon as we switched on the car radio.
take after sbyresemble a family memberI take after my mother. We are both impatient.
take sthgapartpurposely break into piecesHe took the car brakesapart and found the problem.
take sthgbackreturn an itemI have to take our new TVback because it doesn't work.
take offstart to flyMy plane takes off in five minutes.
take sthg offremove sthg (usually clothing)Take off your socks and shoes and come in the lake!
take sthg outremove from a place or thingCan you take the garbageout to the street for me?
take sby outpay for sby to go somewhere with youMy grandparents took usout for dinner and a movie.
tear sthg uprip into piecesI tore up my ex-boyfriend's letters and gave them back to him.
think backremember (often + to, sometimes + on)When I think back on my youth, I wish I had studied harder.
think sthgoverconsiderI'll have to think this job offer over before I make my final decision.
throw sthgawaydispose ofWe threw our old furnitureaway when we won the lottery.
turn sthgdowndecrease the volume or strength (heat, light etc)Please turn the TV downwhile the guests are here.
turn sthgdownrefuseI turned the job downbecause I don't want to move.
turn sthg offstop the energy flow, switch offYour mother wants you toturn the TV off and come for dinner.
turn sthg onstart the energy, switch onIt's too dark in here. Let'sturn some lights on.
turn sthg upincrease the volume or strength (heat, light etc)Can you turn the music up? This is my favourite song.
turn upappear suddenlyOur cat turned up after we put posters up all over the neighbourhood.
try sthg onsample clothingI'm going to try these jeanson, but I don't think they will fit.
try sthg outtestI am going to try this new brand of detergent out.
use sthg upfinish the supplyThe kids used all of the toothpaste up so we need to buy some more.
wake upstop sleepingWe have to wake up early for work on Monday.
warm sby/ sthg upincrease the temperatureYou can warm your feet upin front of the fireplace.
warm upprepare body for exerciseI always warm up by doing sit-ups before I go for a run.
wear offfade awayMost of my make-up wore off before I got to the party.
work outexerciseI work out at the gym three times a week.
work outbe successfulOur plan worked out fine.
work sthg outmake a calculationWe have to work out the total cost before we buy the house.