Phrasal Verb List

You probably use phrasal verbs, or verbs made of two to three words, every day and don’t even realize it. Phrasal verbs can’t be translated literally, so you have to learn them by definitions and examples. A complete phrasal verb list in English would include hundreds of phrasal verbs, but these examples can help you understand this part of speech.

dozed off is phrasal verb example dozed off is phrasal verb example
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Phrasal Verb List

Learn some of the most common phrasal verbs with an alphabetical list.

A-H Phrasal Verb List

Definitions and sample sentences can help you understand these phrasal verbs that start with the letters A-H.

Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example

ask out

to ask someone on a date

I got asked out by John.

back up

to move backwards

Back up before she splashes you.

come off

to appear or seem

If you frown, you’ll come off as mean.

cut it out

stop doing what you’re doing

You better cut it out before I get really angry.

doze off

fall asleep

Try not to doze off during my lecture.

drop in

to stop for a short visit

Feel free to drop in any time.

eat up

eat all of something

You better eat up those vegetables.

fall apart

become reduced

If she dies, my whole world will fall apart.

fart around

waste time doing pointless things

Stop farting around and finish your homework.

fill in

provide details about something

I’ll fill you in on the way to the hospital.

get back at

get revenge on someone

I’ll get back at him for breaking my TV.

give away

to reveal some information

Try not to give away the end of the movie.

give back

donate time or money to a charitable cause

I pick up garbage as a way to give back to my community.

give in

to reluctantly stop fighting

I always give in to my son’s whining.

give out

to stop working from over-exertion

My legs might give out after this run.

give up

to quit

Don’t give up on your dream.

hang out

casually spend time with someone

Let’s hang out after school.

hold up

to rob someone by threatening violence

This is a hold up, give me all your money!

I-Q Phrasal Verb List

Verbs like “look” and “make” are often used in phrasal verbs.

Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example

iron out

to figure out the details

Let’s iron out this contract.

jazz up

to make something more exciting

I’m going to jazz up my outfit with red jewelry.

keep it down

to be quieter

Keep it down outside. We’re trying to sleep in here.

kick in

to take effect as in a drug

When my ibuprofen kicks in, this headache will be gone.

laugh off

to pretend something doesn’t bother you

You can’t laugh off a broken heart.

let down

to disappoint

You really let me down when you lied.

look down on

to think less of

He’ll look down on me if I quit college.

look into

to investigate

I’ll look into the crime.

make out

to kiss heavily

I want to make out with you.

make up

to forgive each other

Let’s make up, this fight is dumb.

own up

to confess

You better own up to your mistakes.

pass away

to die

She passed away yesterday.

point out

to make someone aware

He points out every little mistake.

pull through

to recover

I know you’ll pull through this illness.

put down

to insult

That bully put me down every day.

R-Z Phrasal Verb List

One of the verbs that makes many phrasal verbs is “take.”

Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example

rattle off

to list information quickly off the top of your head

I could rattle off all 50 states in one minute.

run into

to see someone you know

I ran into Jan at the market.

scrape by

to barely manage to accomplish something

You scraped by with a D in English this year.

set up

to trap

He set me up to take the fall.

stand for

to support or represent something

I stand for gender equality.

stop over

to visit someone quickly

I’ll stop over after lunch.

tag along

to go with someone, especially when not invited

Can I tag along with you guys?

take after

to resemble someone

I take after my grandma.

take off

to start to go

Planes take off on the hour.

take up on

to accept an invitation

I’ll take you up on that dinner date this weekend.

veg out

to relax and do nothing

I’m going to veg out this weekend.

warm up to

to start liking over time

She’ll warm up to you by the end of the party.

wipe out

to fall or crash

He wiped out on his new bike.

work out

to exercise

I work out every morning.

zone out

allow your mind to go blank

When my mom talks about chores I zone out.

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What Is a Phrasal Verb?

A phrasal verb is simply a verb made up of more than one word, a type of compound verb. It is two or three words that make up one main verb. A phrasal verb is only a verb, not anything else in the sentence.

Components of a Phrasal Verb

Usually, the words that constitute a phrasal verb are a verb and a preposition, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, the first word in a phrasal verb is not a verb at all, but when paired with the preposition, the whole phrase becomes a verb.

For example, the phrasal verb "clam up" is made of a noun (clam) and a preposition (up). When you combine them, they become one verb meaning "to become quiet or refuse to speak."

Phrasal Verb vs. Verb Phrase

A phrasal verb is different from a verb phrase. A verb phrase, sometimes called a predicate, is made up of a main verb along with any complements, objects, or adverbial phrases that follow it.

How to Recognize Phrasal Verbs

So, how do you know when you're dealing with a phrasal verb and not just a verb and a preposition? You have to look at the whole sentence.

If the two words can be understood literally, it's a verb and a preposition. If they have to be taken together with a meaning that has little or nothing to do with the meaning of the verb alone, then it's a phrasal verb.

Went Out Phrasal Verb Example Explanation

Let’s use “went out” to explain how to recognize phrasal verbs.

  • I went out of the room for a moment.

Here, the words in the phrase "went out" literally mean "went" and "out." This is a verb (went) and a preposition (out).

  • I went out with him a few times.

Here, the phrase "went out" is a phrasal verb meaning "spent time romantically." It doesn't necessarily indicate that you went anywhere.

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Take Action

Phrasal verbs might seem complex at first, but reading through a bunch of examples can help define this part of speech. Use verb worksheets to help you understand other kinds of verbs such as transitive verbs and helping verbs.