Common Phrasal Verbs


In English, we use a special kind of verb called a phrasal verb to express certain actions.

These verbs are two-three words long because they contain a preposition or adverb (or sometimes both!) that are part of the verb!

They are very important in English, and there are some actions that we just can't express without them.

Learn how to use them in sentences and start studying them in small groups. Soon you'll use them like a pro!

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Here is an example of a phrasal verb:

Frank is talking to his co-workers. He tells them that he is going to buy his first house! They are very happy for him.

In this conversation, they find out that he is going to buy a house.

In this conversation, they find out that he is going to buy a house.

In English, there are some actions that we can describe best with phrasal verbs.

In the example above, find out means to discover or to get news of something for the first time. This meaning is best expressed with the phrasal verb find out.

There are lots of these verbs that include a preposition or adverb (or both). Since they are very important and they have special meanings, it is best to learn them in small groups.

Work with the five verbs below. It's a good idea to review the page on how to use phrasal verbs and the page about separable and inseparable phrasal verbs.

Then read the examples below and write some examples of your own. This will really help you remember!

See these articles:

How to Study Vocabulary Words

Activities for Teaching Vocabulary: How Can You Teach (or Learn) New Words?

Now, let's start!

1. Find out

As we saw above, this phrasal verb means to get news of something for the first time.

Examples:
  • Chris just found out that he is getting a raise. He is really glad that his managers see how hard he is working.

  • Natalie found out that she is pregnant. She and Ken are so excited!

  • Jacqueline never remembers holidays. She just found out that she doesn't have to work tomorrow. She's going to relax!
She's going to relax!

2. Leave out

This phrasal verb means to omit or exclude. We use it when we do not include information in an explanation or report, or when we don't include a person in an activity.

Examples:
  • Please give a complete report of what happened. Don't leave out any details.

  • It's not nice to leave your sister out of your games. Please let her play, too!

  • Brent hates to be left out when the other kids play. He always finds a way to participate!
He always finds a way to participate!

3. Look up

This phrasal verb means to search for the definition of something in a dictionary or encyclopedia.

Examples:
  • If you don't know a word you find in a story, look it up right away. That way, you'll understand it in context.

  • I looked up Ethiopia in the encyclopedia and learned all kinds of interesting facts!

  • It's so easy to look up information on the internet nowadays! Sam loves to read online encyclopedia entries.
Sam loves to read online encyclopedia entries.

4. Put away

This phrasal verb means to store or to put an object in its proper place.

Examples:
  • I just went to the supermarket and bought all this food. Can you help me put it away in the cabinets?

  • The kids don't like to put away their toys when they're done playing. The play room is always such a mess!

  • Gladys's room is very neat now that she's put away all her clean clothes.
Gladys's room is very neat now that she's put away all her clean clothes.

5. Set up

This phrasal verb means to arrange. We can use it for physical objects, events, or electronic accounts.

Examples:
  • Before you can use the online learning system, you need to set up an account with a user name and a password.

  • Irene set up a meeting with the Human Resources department for this afternoon. Are you available?

  • Ralph had to set the camera up before they could begin filming. He hopes he's done it right!
Ralph had to set the camera up before they could begin filming. He hopes he's done it right!

Keep practicing these phrasal verbs! Try making your own sentences and visit the other pages in the Phrasal Verbs section to keep learning these important verbs. You'll do great!


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