English phrasal verbs list

phrasal verbs list

English phrasal verbs

Our phrasal verbs list includes the English phrasal verb, a definition that explains the meaning and an example that uses the phrasal verb in context.

A phrasal verb (also known as a multi-word verb) is made up of a verb and one or two particles (adverb and/or preposition) and operate as a single vocabulary item. Some phrasal verbs are easier to understand from the individual words and others are idiomatic.

Phrasal verbs can be transitive (i.e. they take an object) or intransitive (i.e. they do not). They can also be separable (i.e. verb and particle can be separated) or inseparable (i.e. they cannot). You can read more information about the meaning and form of phrasal verbs.

Phrasal verbs topics

We give lists of English phrasal verbs by topic so that you can learn groups of phrasal verbs for the same subject area and practise using them in context.

Politics & elections • Phrasal verbs

Politics and elections is a common topic of discussion in every country and we’ve put together a variety of English phrasal verbs and idioms that are commonly used to describe political events and activities.

bring in


to introduce a new law

The government brought in strict new laws to reduce plastic waste.

cover up


to hide the truth so that others do not learn about your mistakes or illegal actions.

The employees tried to cover up their mistakes and didn't report them to the directors.

crack down on


to deal with problems in a stricter way

The government needs to crack down on knife crime in the UK.

get away with


to escape punishment or criticism after doing something wrong or in a bad way

My local council tried to get away with a much smaller budget for social housing.

go back on


to not do something that you have agreed or promised to do

Many politicians go back on the promises they make during their election campaign.

put forward


to give an idea, opinion or plan for consideration or discussion about someone or something

Scientists have just put forward their latest findings about climate change.

stand down


to resign from an official job or position

A government minister has stood down after several allegations of misconduct.

win over


to succeed in persuading someone to agree with you

Our proposal has won over the support of government and local businesses.

Business • Phrasal verbs

We need a wide variety of vocabulary for the workplace and this list includes English phrasal verbs and idioms that are commonly used in speaking and writing for business situations.

branch out


to do something different from normal work or activities

We used to sell household electronics and then branched out to offer mobile phones.

call off


to cancel or decide to stop something

Our clients have called off today's meeting.

close down


to permanently stop doing business

A huge number of high street shops have closed down over last decade.

draw up


to prepare a written document, such as a contract, list or plan

The company have offered me a job, but they still need to draw up the contract.

fall through


describes when something fails to happen

Unfortunately, everything has fallen through with the sale of our company.

lay off


to stop employing someone

Thousands of people have been laid off in the retail industry as shops close.

look into


to investigate the facts about something

We need to look into the matter to discover the reasons for massive overspending.

put back


to delay the time or date of a planned event

Our clients have put back this morning's meeting until after lunch.

step in


to become involved in a situation to solve a problem

The boss had to step in when there was a serious disagreement among employees.

take on


to employ someone

Our company is growing quickly and we have taken on a lot of new staff.

Money • Phrasal verbs

Money makes the world go round! This list includes English phrasal verbs and idioms that are commonly used to describe money and payments.

come into


to inherit something after someone has died (e.g. money or land)

She came into a lot of money last year and is buying a second home abroad.

cough up


to reluctantly give money for something

I took my car for a service and had to cough up an extra €300 for problems they found.

cut back


to reduce money or time that is spent on something

He's saving money for a new car and has cut back on going to restaurants every weekend.

draw down


to take an amount of money from savings or reserves

This will be an expensive year, and so we've drawn down some of our life savings.

fork out


to spend money on something because you have to.

Our company needs to fork out more money for advertising.

pay back


to return money that was borrowed from somebody

Now I've got a good job, I can finally pay back the money my brother lent me.

pay off


to give money to someone that you owe for a bill or debt.

I'm going to use my Christmas bonus to pay off my credit cards.

put aside


to save money or time for something in the future

We should put some money aside every month for our next holiday.

rip off


to charge too much money for something

I was ripped off when I bought my first car. They knew I hadn't done this before.

run up


to create a large bill or debt that must be paid.

They ran up a huge bill at the hotel during their business trip.

splash out


to spend a lot of money on something

My friends splashed out for their honeymoon and went on a luxury cruise.

squirrel away


to hide or save money for something in the future

Your parents have been squirrelling away money since they got married.

Telephone • Phrasal verbs

We use our phones every single day and there's a good variety of English phrasal verbs and idioms that are commonly used to describe phone calls.

break up


to describe a bad connection when you have problems hearing someone on the phone

You're breaking up. Can you say that again please?

call back


to telephone someone who called you earlier, or to speak to someone again

I called my boss back, but she didn’t pick up.

call up


to phone someone

You should call her up and invite her to dinner.

cut off


to get disconnected on the telephone (e.g. no service)

I called a few minutes ago but we got cut off.

get back to


to phone someone later

I'll speak to my boss now and then I'll get back to you this afternoon.

get off


to finish a phone call

Please come to my office when you get off the phone.

get through


to successfully reach someone on the phone

Finally, I got through and was able to speak to my bank manager. 

hang on


to wait for a short time

Please hang on and I'll check if he's available.

hang up


to end a phone call (often suddenly)

His girlfriend hung up when he started arguing and shouting on the phone.

hold on


to wait for a short time on the phone

I don't want to wait any longer. I've been holding on for 15 minutes already.

pick up


to answer the phone

I've called the doctor a few times, but they didn't pick up.

put down


to finish a phone call

He put the phone down when she started shouting at him.

put through


to connect a person on the phone to someone else

Thanks for waiting and I can now put you through.

speak up


to speak louder

Can you speak up please? I can't hear you very well.

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Tips to remember phrasal verbs

Read the phrasal verb and then read the example sentence.
 Try to guess the meaning of the phrasal verb from the example.
Read the definition to check your understanding of the phrasal verb.
Create your own example using the same phrasal verb.
 Try to use the phrasal verb when you are practising your English!