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Top 10 Phrasal Verbs

6 min read
8 February 2021
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Phrasal verbs may sound like something complicated or even made up, but they’re more common than you think! We’ve brought out a list of 10 phrasal verbs from the UK and the USA to give you some examples that will make you sit up and realise how popular they are!

How many phrasal verbs can you find in the introductory paragraph above? See the end of the article for the answer!


What is a Phrasal Verb?

Strangely enough, we can see it in a mathematical way!

Verb   +  Either preposition/adverb/both  = Phrasal Verb
(Action)  (Placement word/Description of Action)


Look  +  Up/Down/Over/Under
(Action)  (Prepositions)

These can be directional as in “Look up”, meaning to literally tilt your head or eyes upwards to “looking up” as searching for a term or idea. I’m sure everyone has looked something up in Google, for example!



British English phrasal verbs


1. Go Out 


Is your coupled trip to the cinema a friendly outing or is it something more? Break down barriers with this phrasal verb!
e.g. I can’t believe it! He just asked her if she wanted to go out with him!

Leaving the house (especially for the night or evening)

Whether you want to hit the town or just to get away from the house for a while, you can go out just about anywhere!
e.g. You should come and join us. We go out every Monday to that place with the free cheese!

The power stopping in an appliance

When the lights stop working, your kettle fails to boil or your computer shuts down, you know the power’s gone out.
e.g. It had to happen now. Every time I get somewhere in my essay, the power goes out in my computer!

-Go out of your way
Similar to bending over backwards (mentioned in our previous article on idioms), which is someone making an exceptional effort in achieving something!
e.g. Don’t go out of your way to get that phone, it’s not worth it!


2. Go Ahead

Giving someone a clear indication to start or carry on (which is another phrasal verb) with something.
e.g. Don’t worry about it; I gave her the go ahead a while ago!


3. Try on

What you do in a changing room when you see if items of clothing fit.
e.g. I gave her that dress to try on – but I really want it for myself!


4. Carry on

This is a very British phrase! They have the Carry on films plus the famous phrase made popular in the war effort- Keep calm and carry on. This basically means to continue what you were doing.
e.g. The schoolchildren were worried until their teacher told them to carry on with the good work!


5. Top up

To refill something that’s not completely empty.
e.g. Do you want to top up your glass of water? I need to top up my mobile phone credit.


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American English Phrasal Verbs


1. Get by

Something with which you could live on or survive with (usually salary related).
e.g. I could get by on duck and rice everyday, that’s how much I love it!


2. Blurt out

To say something suddenly, usually without thinking.
e.g. I was excited, and blurted out the answer to the question before my turn.


3. Fed up

This is nothing to do with eating (usually!) It can be seen as another way of someone being annoyed:
e.g. Her favourite show wasn’t on today – she’s a little fed up.


4. Rack up

This means to accumulate or collect over time, usually referring to winning/losing.
e.g. She’s done it again! She’s racked up 10 wins in a month!


5. Get Down

This can be used for work and play as well as its more literal meaning!

Serious: Get down to work/get down to business – play time is over!
e.g. It was approaching Monday – time to get down to business!

Fun: Get down tonight!
e.g. Have you heard that song? It’s Friday, time to get down tonight and party!


So there you have it - a selection of some of the most popular phrasal verbs in everyday conversation, whether it’s for business or pleasure!


Check as well this article

Quick English: Helping Verbs

Here’s our answer to the phrasal verbs question we asked before - the answer is 3:
1. Made up
2. Brought out
3. Sit up


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