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20 Most Useful Phrasal Verbs|IELTS Learning

Phrasal verbs are not students’ favorite topic, are they? There are so many in the English language and each one has many different meanings.

20 Useful Phrasal Verbs

What Is a Phrasal Verb?

A phrasal verb is a phrase that’s made up of a verb and another word or two, usually a preposition but sometimes an adverb.

So before we can talk about phrasal verbs, it’s important to understand what verbs, prepositions, and adverbs are.

  • A verb is an action word. It describes something happening (i.e. hearing, seeing), a state of being (i.e. to live, to sleep), or an action being done (i.e. to read, to sing).
  • A preposition is a word that describes the relationship between two words. For example, the bees are on the table or under the table, but not inside the table (hopefully). Prepositions mainly deal with location or direction (i.e. on, through, around) and time (i.e. “by” or “around” a certain time).
  • An adverb is a word that describes a verb. For example, you can run quickly or slowly and arrive to class early or late.

Here are some useful Phrasal Verbs 

1. “Call off” –  to stop or cancel
a) call off the search”
b) “I called off today because I’m sick.”
c) “They called off the football match because of the weather forecast.

2. “Look up” – search for.
a) “I’ll go online and look up ‘phrasal verbs’.”
b)Look me up the next time you’re in town.”

3. “Get away with”: escape blame/punishment.
a)“He sure got away with that”
b)“The crook got away with 50 dollars”.
c)”She is so spoilt. She gets away with murder” (used idiomatically)

4. “Pull through”often used in discussing health
a)”The surgery was rough, but he pulled through
b)“The victim of the dog attack pulled through with no lingering injuries”.

5. “Breakup”this usually refers to relationships but it can also refer to fights
a)”Fred and Matilda are going to break upbut variations can be used to show an emotional state. “When Matilda dumped Fred, he was pretty broken up about it.”
b)”The police were called to break up the fight at the pub”.

6. “Blowout” it means a tire flattens while driving, it can also mean a lopsided sports score or to indicate anger.
a) ”Mel had a blowout on the way to work”
b)“It was a blowout; the Packers beat the Bears 24 to 3.”
c)“Ed broke Bob’s window, and Bob had a complete blowout when he saw it”.

7. “Give in/give up” – relent or surrender.
a)“She didn’t want to go, but the kids pestered her until she gave in.”
b)“The robber gave up when the cops cornered him.”

8. “Put up with” -endure
a)“Tom put up with many jokes when he rode his ostrich to work”.
b) Sally had to put up with many months of unpaid work before she was finally given a permanent contract.

9. “Look down on” a person who feels superior to others is said to “look down on” them.
a)“Dog owners sometimes look down on cat owners, which is silly because cat owners sometimes look down on dog owners.”

10. “Turn into” to become something else. It is also used in driving.
a) ”Caterpillars turn into butterflies”
b)“After you pass the park, turn into the school parking lot”.

11. “Carry on”to continue. It can also be used when someone complains for a long time about something.
a)“After the incident, the workers carried on with their work.
b)”When he accidentally spilled red wine on her dress, she carried on about it for hours”.

12. “Look after” attend to
a)”Babysitters look after children”
b) “Could you please look after my bags while I order at the bar?”

13. “Pass out” – faint
a) “During the Australian Open, many tennis players nearly passed out because of the extreme heat”.

14. “Put off” postpone or delay. It is also used to describe an aversion to something.
a) “He put off painting and cut the grass first.”
b) “We’ve had to put off the trip to Japan.”
c)“When I was a child I was forced to eat tapioca that I am completely put off by the sight of it”.

15. “Look forward to” anticipate.
a)“I look forward to meeting with you next week” ( verb +ing form)
b) “Kids always look forward to the holidays”.

 16. “Add up”

a- To be added together and equal the expected or correct total.
Example: “We added up the apples: there were 12″

b-To make sense : to seem to be logical or true.
Example: “Her story didn’t add up, I think she was lying, it didn’t make sense”

17. ” Blow up”

a- To fill (something) with air or gas
Example: “Please could you blow up those balloons?”

b- To explode or to cause (something, such as a bomb) to explode.
Example: “The building was blown up by a bomb”

c- To become very angry.
Example: “When I said I couldn’t go to her party, she blew up”

18. “Look forward to”

a- To expect (something) with pleasure.
Example: “William is really looking forward to going on holiday”

19. “Look up”

a- Improve.
Example: “The economy is finally looking up”

b- To search for (something) in a reference book, on the Internet, etc.
Example: “Let’s look up his number in the yellow pages”

20. Cut (it) Out — This phrase has the same meaning as saying “Stop it.”

“Hey, Cut it Out ! I was watching that movie, so stop changing the channel!”


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