Dear learners, if you’ve ever come across a phrasal verb that you thought you knew, but it doesn’t seem to make sense, use other clues in the context to work out what the meaning might be. Since the English language contains an inordinate range of phrasal verbs, I’m going to content myself with dealing with some of the most commonly used ones.
abide by: to accept or obey an agreement.
EX: She refused to abide by the rule.
act up: (for people) to misbehave.
EX: The babysitter had a difficult time. The children acted up all evening.
(for machnes) to not work properly.
EX: I guess I’d better take my car to the garage. It’s been acting up lately.
back down: to not follow a threat.
EX: He was going to call the police when I told him I’d wrecked his car, but he backed down.
back up: confirm a story, facts, or information. EX: If you don’t believe me, talk to her. She’ll back me up.
chew something over: to think about something or discuss it very carefully.
EX: Officials meet regularly to chew over the future of the company.
chill out: to relax completely, to calm down.
EX: Before we can go on discussing this matter, you all need to chill out. So sit down and stop bickering.
doss around: to spend time doing very little or being unprofuctive.
EX: If everyone keeps dossing around/about like this, we will never get this project done.
doze off: to fall into a light sleep.
EX: I dozed off in front of the TV for a few minutes.
egg on: to strongly encourage someone that is doing a bad thing.
EX: The other students egged him on when he started arguing with the teacher.
eke out: to make something like money last as long as possible.
EX:The survivors eked out their food and water until they were rescued.
freak out: to panic or go crazy.
EX: She just freaked out when she saw the police.
fuss over: to be excessively careful or solicitous.
EX: She fussed over her children.
gloss over: to make attractive or acceptable by deception or superficial treatment.
EX: It was a résumé that glossed over the applicant’s lack of experience.
go in for: to have an interest in.
EX: He goes in for classical music.
hang out: to spend time in a certain location or with certain people.
EX: He usually hangs out at the corner café.
hold on: it has different meanings. Here, I will focus just on one meaning, that is, to manage to stay alive.
EX: You just have to hold on until the ambulance arrives.
laugh off: to joke about something in order to show that you think it is not important or serious.
EX: They just laughed off the rumors that they are getting married.
lay off: to end someone’s employment.
EX: As the business was not doing well, they had to lay off some workers.
miss out on: to lose an opportunity to do or have something.
EX: The athlete narrowly missed out on the world record.
nail down: to make someone agree to something or tell you what they are going to do.
EX: I’ll try to nail him down about the date.
nod off: to sleep.
EX: She nodded off during the lecture.
own up to: to admit that one has done something bad or embarrassing.
EX: The students later owned up to the prank.
pop up: to appear very quickly and suddenly.
EX: The tulips are popping up everywhere.
reel off: to recite without effort or pause.
EX: He reeled off the long list of names and dates.
stick up for: to speak in suport of a person or an idea.
EX: Don’t worry! The family will stick up for you.
tell off: to criticize someone angrily for doing something wrong.
EX: The teacher told the student off for talking again today.
Advanced Phrasal Verbs Quiz
Check out the phrasal verb lesson here
You can try our other quizes here.
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