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Phrasal Verbs Explained and 200 Phrasal Verb Examples

Understanding phrasal verbs is important because they are common in everyday conversation, informal language, and even in more formal contexts. However, given their idiomatic nature, phrasal verbs often present challenges to English language learners.

The most effective way to learn these expressions is through context, memorization, and practice. It’s particularly helpful to study phrasal verbs as part of phrases or sentences; this approach aids learners in understanding how they are naturally used in context rather than as isolated words.

To help you teach or learn these versatile expressions, we have compiled an extensive list of phrasal verb examples. We’ve also included example sentences to illustrate how phrasal verbs are typically used in everyday language. First, let’s look at what phrasal verbs are, how they are structured, and discuss the different types of phrasal verbs in English.

What Are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs are a combination of a verb and one or more particles, either prepositions or adverbs, or sometimes both. They are unique in that they act as a single verb unit with a meaning different from the original words used in the phrase.

For example, the phrasal verb “turn down” means to reject something. This meaning cannot be deduced from the individual words of “turn” or “down.” This is why it is important for English language learners to memorize these phrases and learn them in context rather than as isolated words.

Phrasal Verb Structure

Phrasal verbs are typically formed by a combination of a verb with a preposition, an adverb, or both.

  • Verb + Preposition: For example, “look after” (to take care of).
  • Verb + Adverb: For example, “come back” (to return).
  • Verb + Adverb + Preposition: A less common form but exists in phrases like “look forward to” (to anticipate).

Phrasal Verb Conjugation

When conjugating phrasal verbs the same rules are followed as when conjugating standard verbs. The verb portion of the phrasal verb is modified according to tense, person, and number, while the preposition or adverb part remains unchanged.

For example, the present tense sentence, “She looks after her sister.” becomes “She is looking after her sister.” in the present continuous tense. The meaning of phrasal verbs can stay consistent across different tenses, and so their conjugation is straightforward once the base form is understood.

Types of Phrasal Verbs

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs require an object to complete their meaning. The object is the thing or person that receives the action of the verb. For example, when we say “turn off the TV,” “turn off” is the phrasal verb, and “the TV” is the object being acted upon (i.e., we are stopping the TV from working.)

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Intransitive phrasal verbs do not require an object to complete their meaning. They are complete with just the verb and the particle, and nothing is receiving the action directly. For example, the phrasal verb “wake up” is intransitive because it doesn’t require an object to make sense. Its meaning is complete on its own.

Separable vs Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs can be categorized based on whether they are separable or inseparable, which affects how they are used with objects. A phrasal verb that is separable is one where the object can come between the verb and the particle.

A phrasal verb that is inseparable is one where the object must come after the verb and the particle. Transitive verbs can be either separable or inseparable. However, intransitive verbs are inherently inseparable because they do not take an object.

Separable Phrasal Verbs

Separable phrasal verbs allow the object to be placed either between the verb and the particle or after the particle. For example, with the separable phrasal verb “take off,” you can say both “take your hat off” and “take off your hat.” Here are some more examples:

  • Put on (meaning to dress oneself with something):
    • “She put on her shoes” or “She put her shoes on.”
  • Call off (meaning to cancel something):
    • “They called off the meeting” or “They called the meeting off.”
  • Throw out (meaning to discard something):
    • “He threw out the old furniture” or “He threw the old furniture out.”

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Inseparable phrasal verbs, whether transitive or intransitive, do not allow the object to interrupt the verb and particle combination. The words must be used together in the exact order without placing the object or any other word in between. For example, in the inseparable phrasal verb “run into” (meaning to encounter), the structure must remain as “run into someone” or “run into something.” You cannot say, “run someone/something into.” Here are some more examples:

  • Look after (meaning to take care of someone or something):
    • “She looks after her younger brother.”
  • Come across (meaning to find or encounter something by chance):
    • “She came across an old photo in the drawer.”
  • Get over (meaning to recover from an illness or an emotional setback):
    • “He’s getting over a cold.”

Transitive Phrasal Verbs List

Here’s a list of 50 common transitive phrasal verb examples, complete with meanings and example sentences. If you would like to download this list as a PDF, click the button below the list.

  1. Ask out = invite on a date (He decided to ask her out to dinner.)
  2. Back up = support (Can you back up your claim?)
  3. Blow out = extinguish (Please blow out the candles.)
  4. Break down = cause to collapse (The car broke down on the highway.)
  5. Bring up = mention or raise a topic (She brought up an interesting point.)
  6. Call off = cancel (The meeting was called off.)
  7. Carry out = execute or perform (The scientist carried out the experiment.)
  8. Check in = register upon arrival (Please check in at the front desk.)
  9. Cheer up = make happier (A joke can cheer up anyone.)
  10. Clean up = tidy or clean (It’s time to clean up the room.)
  11. Close down = shut permanently (The store was closed down for renovations.)
  12. Cross out = draw a line through (Just cross out any errors.)
  13. Cut off = remove by cutting (They had to cut off the damaged part.)
  14. Drop off = deliver by vehicle (I’ll drop off the package soon.)
  15. Fill out = complete (a form) (Please fill out this application.)
  16. Find out = discover information (We need to find out the truth.)
  17. Give back = return an item (Don’t forget to give back the books.)
  18. Hand in = submit (homework, etc.) (It’s time to hand in the reports.)
  19. Hang up = end a phone call (She hung up before I could answer.)
  20. Hold on = wait (usually on the phone) (Just hold on a moment.)
  21. Kick out = expel or eject (The club kicked out the unruly member.)
  22. Knock out = defeat or make unconscious (He knocked out the competition.)
  23. Lay off = dismiss from employment (Many were laid off during the cutbacks.)
  24. Let down = disappoint (I hope I don’t let down my team.)
  25. Look after = take care of (Can you look after my dog?)
  26. Make up = invent (a story, excuse) (He made up a story about the trip.)
  27. Mix up = confuse two items or people (It’s easy to mix up the twins.)
  28. Pass down = transmit (traditions, knowledge) (Such traditions are passed down through generations.)
  29. Pay back = repay money (I still need to pay back the loan.)
  30. Pick up = lift; also learn (Can you pick up some milk?)
  31. Point out = indicate or mention (Let me point out the main issue.)
  32. Put away = store or save (Please put away your toys.)
  33. Put off = postpone (I had to put off the meeting.)
  34. Put on = dress oneself with (She put on her best dress.)
  35. Put out = extinguish or inconvenience (The fire was quickly put out.)
  36. Read out = say aloud from written material (He read out the names loudly.)
  37. Set up = establish or arrange (They set up the new software.)
  38. Shut off = stop a machine or light (Remember to shut off the lights.)
  39. Take back = retract statement or return an item (She took back her statement.)
  40. Take down = dismantle or note down (The team took down the old banner.)
  41. Take off = remove clothing or depart (It’s hot, so I took off my jacket.)
  42. Throw away = discard (Please throw away the trash.)
  43. Try on = wear to test the fit (She tried on several outfits.)
  44. Turn down = refuse or decrease (They turned down the offer.)
  45. Turn off = stop a device (Don’t forget to turn off the oven.)
  46. Use up = consume completely (I used up all the ink.)
  47. Warm up = prepare body for exercise (He warmed up before the race.)
  48. Wear out = exhaust or become unusable (This job has worn out its welcome.)
  49. Work out = exercise or solve (problems) (She works out every morning.)
  50. Write down = record on paper (Could you write down the number?)

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs List

Here’s a list of 50 common intransitive phrasal verb examples, complete with meanings and example sentences. Please not that some can also be transitive phrasal verbs, but in the context of the example sentences provided, they are all intransitive.

  1. Act up = behave badly or strangely (The computer always acts up when I’m in a hurry.)
  2. Back away = retreat or go backwards (When the dog growled, I backed away.)
  3. Break down = stop functioning (machinery or vehicle) (I hope my car doesn’t break down on the trip.)
  4. Calm down = relax after being angry or agitated (You need to calm down before we can discuss this.)
  5. Carry on = continue (Despite the noise, she carried on reading.)
  6. Check out = leave a hotel; investigate (It’s time to check out of the hotel.)
  7. Come back = return (I’ll come back home by 6 pm.)
  8. Come over = visit casually (Why don’t you come over on Friday?)
  9. Cut back = reduce (We need to cut back on our spending.)
  10. Drop by = visit without formal arrangement (Feel free to drop by any time.)
  11. Drop out = quit a course or school (He decided to drop out of college.)
  12. End up = to finally be in a particular place or situation (You’ll end up tired if you don’t rest.)
  13. Fall apart = break into pieces; lose emotional or mental stability (The old shed just fell apart.)
  14. Fall down = collapse (He fell down and scraped his knee.)
  15. Fill in = substitute for someone (Can you fill in for me on Friday?)
  16. Get away = escape (She managed to get away from the crowd.)
  17. Get up = rise from bed (I usually get up early.)
  18. Give in = reluctantly stop fighting or arguing (Eventually, he gave in and agreed to their terms.)
  19. Go ahead = proceed (Please go ahead and start without me.)
  20. Grow up = become an adult (It’s time to grow up and take responsibility.)
  21. Hang around = spend time idly (They like to hang around the park.)
  22. Hold on = wait a short time (Can you hold on for a minute?)
  23. Keep on = continue doing something (She keeps on making the same mistake.)
  24. Kick back = relax, take it easy (After work, I like to kick back and relax.)
  25. Knock out = overwhelm or impress greatly (That performance really knocked out the judges.)
  26. Lash out = suddenly attack physically or verbally (He suddenly lashed out in anger.)
  27. Lie down = recline (I’m going to lie down for a bit.)
  28. Log in = sign in to a system (Don’t forget to log in to the meeting.)
  29. Look out = be careful, vigilant, and take notice (Always look out for cars when crossing the street.)
  30. Move in = start living in a new home (They are excited to move in to their new house.)
  31. Pass away = die (My grandfather passed away last year.)
  32. Pass out = faint (During the speech, he almost passed out.)
  33. Pop in = visit briefly (I might pop in for a coffee later.)
  34. Rush off = leave hastily (She rushed off after the phone call.)
  35. Set off = begin a journey (They set off on their vacation early in the morning.)
  36. Show off = act extra special for people watching (He loves to show off his dance moves.)
  37. Shut down = close, stop operating (The cafe shuts down at 8 pm.)
  38. Sit down = take a seat (Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.)
  39. Slow down = reduce speed or rate (You should slow down your car in the rain.)
  40. Stand out = be noticeable (She really stands out in a crowd.)
  41. Stay out = remain away from home (He often stays out late with friends.)
  42. Stick around = stay in or near a place (Why don’t you stick around after the meeting?)
  43. Switch off = stop paying attention or stop operating (It’s easy to switch off during a boring lecture.)
  44. Take off = leave the ground (The plane will take off in five minutes.)
  45. Throw up = vomit (I felt sick and had to throw up.)
  46. Turn around = go back in the opposite direction (Sometimes you just need to turn around and start over.)
  47. Wake up = stop sleeping (I wake up at the sound of my alarm.)
  48. Walk away = leave a bad situation (It’s okay to walk away from toxic situations.)
  49. Warm up = prepare for physical activity or an event (Always warm up before exercising.)
  50. Zone out = stop paying attention or become unfocused (During the lecture, I started to zone out and missed the main points.)

Separable Phrasal Verb List

All the phrasal verbs on this list are separable, meaning the object or noun in the sentence can be placed either between the verb and the particle or after the particle (e.g., “Turn off the TV.” / “Turn the TV off.”).

  1. Turn off = to stop a device or light from working.
    • Please turn off the light.
    • Please turn the light off.
  2. Pick up = to lift something or someone.
    • Can you pick up the book?
    • Can you pick the book up?
  3. Throw away = to discard something.
    • I need to throw away the trash.
    • I need to throw the trash away.
  4. Take off = to remove something, often clothing.
    • He decided to take off his coat.
    • He decided to take his coat off.
  5. Put on = to dress oneself with something.
    • She put on her shoes.
    • She put her shoes on.
  6. Call off = to cancel something.
    • They called off the meeting.
    • They called the meeting off.
  7. Throw out = to discard or get rid of something.
    • You should throw out the old furniture.
    • You should throw the old furniture out.
  8. Set up = to arrange or establish something.
    • Let’s set up the new computer.
    • Let’s set the new computer up.
  9. Put away = to store or place something in its usual location.
    • Please put away your toys.
    • Please put your toys away.
  10. Give back = to return something to its owner.
    • You must give back the book tomorrow.
    • You must give the book back tomorrow.
  11. Bring up = to mention or raise a topic.
    • She always brings up interesting points in the meeting.
    • She always brings interesting points up in the meeting.
  12. Fill out = to complete a form or document.
    • Please fill out this application form.
    • Please fill this application form out.
  13. Hang up = to end a phone call or place something on a hook.
    • He hung up the phone abruptly.
    • He hung the phone up abruptly.
  14. Make up = to create a story.
    • He completely made up the story.
    • He completely made the story up.
  15. Take down = to dismantle or write something down.
    • The workers took down the old fence.
    • The workers took the old fence down.
  16. Put off = to postpone or delay something.
    • We had to put off the meeting until next week.
    • We had to put the meeting off until next week.
  17. Look up = to search for information, especially in a book or database.
    • I need to look up her number.
    • I need to look her number up.
  18. Drop off = to deliver something or someone to a location.
    • Can you drop off the kids at school?
    • Can you drop the kids off at school?
  19. Cut out = to remove part of something, often with scissors.
    • She cut out a coupon from the newspaper.
    • She cut a coupon out from the newspaper.
  20. Turn up = to increase volume or appear unexpectedly.
    • Can you turn up the music a bit?
    • Can you turn the music up a bit?
  21. Shut off = to stop the operation or flow of something.
    • It’s time to shut off the water.
    • It’s time to shut the water off.
  22. Take apart = to disassemble something into pieces.
    • He took apart the entire engine.
    • He took the entire engine apart.
  23. Hand in = to submit something, like homework or a report.
    • The students handed in their assignments.
    • The students handed their assignments in.
  24. Fold up = to bend something, usually paper or fabric, into a compact form.
    • She folded up the letter and put it away.
    • She folded the letter up and put it away.
  25. Clean up = to tidy or clean a space.
    • We need to clean up the kitchen before guests arrive.
    • We need to clean the kitchen up before guests arrive.
  26. Clear out = to remove items from a place or vacate it.
    • It’s time to clear out the garage.
    • It’s time to clear the garage out.
  27. Warm up = to heat something.
    • Craig decided to warm up the chicken in the microwave.
    • Craig decided to warm the chicken up in the microwave.
  28. Switch off = to turn off a device or light.
    • Don’t forget to switch off the lights when you leave.
    • Don’t forget to switch the lights off when you leave.
  29. Mix up = to confuse or combine things.
    • Don’t mix up the papers on my desk.
    • Don’t mix the papers on my desk up.
  30. Break up = to break into smaller pieces.
    • The impact broke up the ice.
    • The impact broke the ice up.
  31. Cut up = to cut into pieces.
    • She cut up the vegetables for the salad.
    • She cut the vegetables up for the salad.
  32. Eat up = to consume all of something.
    • The kids ate up all the cookies.
    • The kids ate all the cookies up.
  33. Blow out = to extinguish something like a candle or fire.
    • He blew out the candles on his birthday cake.
    • He blew the candles out on his birthday cake.
  34. Wash up = to clean dishes or oneself.
    • After dinner, it’s your turn to wash up.
    • After dinner, it’s your turn to wash the dishes up.
  35. Work out = to exercise or solve a problem.
    • She worked out the problem quickly.
    • She worked the problem out quickly.
  36. Write down = to note something on paper.
    • Remember to write down the appointment time.
    • Remember to write the appointment time down.
  37. Blow up = to inflate or explode.
    • The children are blowing up balloons for the party.
    • The children are blowing balloons up for the party.
  38. Close down = to cease operations, often permanently.
    • They closed down the shop after 50 years in business.
    • They closed the shop down after 50 years in business.
  39. Sort out = to organize or resolve something.
    • We need to sort out the files by the end of the day.
    • We need to sort the files out by the end of the day.
  40. Cross off = to eliminate or mark something as completed.
    • She crossed off the last item on her to-do list.
    • She crossed the last item on her to-do list off.
  41. Drink up = to finish a drink.
    • He drank up all the milk.
    • He drank all the milk up.
  42. Figure out = to understand or solve something.
    • It took me a while to figure out the solution.
    • It took me a while to figure the solution out.
  43. Hold up = to delay.
    • Traffic held up our arrival.
    • Traffic held our arrival up.
  44. Kick off = to start or initiate something.
    • The party will kick off at 7 PM.
    • We will kick the party off at 7 pm.
  45. Lay out = to arrange or plan something in detail.
    • She laid out her ideas for the project.
    • She laid her ideas for the project out.
  46. Let out = to release or make a garment bigger.
    • The seamstress let out the waist of the dress.
    • The seamstress let the waist of the dress out.
  47. Pass out = to distribute or become unconscious.
    • The teacher passed out the worksheets.
    • The teacher passed the worksheets out.
  48. Peel off = to remove the outer layer of something.
    • She peeled off the old wallpaper.
    • She peeled the old wallpaper off.
  49. Point out = to indicate or mention something.
    • He pointed out the error in the report.
    • He pointed the error in the report out.
  50. Shake up = to upset the status quo or mix vigorously.
    • The new policy really shook up the department.
    • The new policy really shook the department up.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs List

All the phrasal verbs on this list are inseparable, meaning the words that make up the phrasal verb must be kept together as a unit, and the object or noun is placed after the particle. For example, you can say “Look after my car.“, but you can’t say “Look my car after.

  1. Look after = to take care of someone or something (She always looks after her younger siblings.)
  2. Come across = to find or encounter something by chance (He came across an old diary in the attic.)
  3. Get over = to recover from an illness or emotional setback (It took her weeks to get over the flu.)
  4. Run out of = to exhaust a supply of something (We’ve run out of milk and need to buy some more.)
  5. Go through = to experience or examine thoroughly (She went through all the documents meticulously.)
  6. Get along with = to have a harmonious or friendly relationship (He gets along with everyone at work.)
  7. Run into = to encounter unexpectedly (I ran into an old friend at the store.)
  8. Look into = to investigate or examine closely (The committee will look into the matter further.)
  9. Get away with = to do something wrong without being caught or punished (He thought he could get away with cheating on the test.)
  10. Check into = to register upon arrival, especially at a hotel (We need to check into the hotel by 3 PM.)
  11. Deal with = to handle, manage, or cope with a situation (She’s good at dealing with stressful situations.)
  12. Look forward to = to anticipate something with pleasure (I’m looking forward to the vacation.)
  13. Get back to = to return to a person with an answer or more information (I’ll get back to you with the details tomorrow.)
  14. Come up with = to think of or produce something, especially a solution (We need to come up with a plan quickly.)
  15. Catch up with = to reach the same level or quality as someone or something else (He needs to catch up with the rest of the class.)
  16. Cut down on = to reduce in amount or size (We’re trying to cut down on our electricity usage.)
  17. Look out for = to be watchful or careful about something (Always look out for cars when crossing the street.)
  18. Go over = to review or explain something in detail (Let’s go over the report one more time.)
  19. Get rid of = to eliminate or discard something (It’s time to get rid of old clothes that don’t fit.)
  20. Come down with = to become ill with a particular condition (She came down with a cold last week.)
  21. Catch on = to understand or become popular (The new trend quickly caught on among teenagers.)
  22. Count on = to rely or depend on someone or something (You can always count on me for help.)
  23. Do away with = to abolish or get rid of (The company decided to do away with the old policy.)
  24. Face up to = to accept and deal with a difficult reality (He needs to face up to the consequences of his actions.)
  25. Fall through = to fail to happen or complete (Our plans for the weekend fell through.)
  26. Go along with = to agree or cooperate (She decided to go along with the team’s decision.)
  27. Hang on to = to keep or retain something (He’s hanging on to his old baseball cards.)
  28. Keep up with = to stay at the same level or pace (It’s hard to keep up with the latest technology.)
  29. Live up to = to meet expectations or standards (She always lives up to her reputation for being punctual.)
  30. Make up for = to compensate or rectify (He tried to make up for his mistake by apologizing.)
  31. Put up with = to tolerate or endure (I don’t know how she puts up with such a noisy office.)
  32. Run away from = to escape or avoid (He ran away from his responsibilities.)
  33. Stick to = to continue doing or using something without changing (It’s important to stick to a healthy diet.)
  34. Touch on = to mention or deal with a subject briefly (The speaker touched on several important issues.)
  35. Wait on = to serve or attend to someone (The waiter was waiting on four tables at once.)
  36. Walk out on = to suddenly leave or abandon (She walked out on the job after just one day.)
  37. Brush up on = to improve or refresh one’s knowledge or skill (I need to brush up on my Spanish before the trip.)
  38. Call on = to ask for an answer or opinion (The teacher called on students during the discussion.)
  39. Get through to = to successfully make someone understand or communicate (It’s difficult to get through to him when he’s so stubborn.)
  40. Look down on = to consider someone or something as inferior (It’s not right to look down on people for their choices.)
  41. Stand up for = to defend or support a particular idea or person (You should stand up for what you believe in.)
  42. Back out of = to withdraw from a commitment or promise (He backed out of the deal at the last minute.)
  43. Break down in = to lose control emotionally (She broke down in tears after hearing the news.)
  44. Catch up on = to do something that should have been done earlier (I need to catch up on sleep this weekend.)
  45. Fall back on = to resort to something, especially in times of need (She has her savings to fall back on if she loses her job.)
  46. Go back on = to fail to keep a promise or agreement (He went back on his word.)
  47. Hold out for = to wait for something better or more suitable (She’s holding out for a better offer.)
  48. Kick in = to start to have an effect or to contribute (The medication finally kicked in after an hour.)
  49. Run up against = to encounter an unexpected difficulty (We ran up against several problems during the project.)
  50. Speak out against = to publicly express opposition to something (Many people are speaking out against the new law.)

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