Top 50 phrasal verbs in English

by Andrea Byaruhanga
April 08, 2021
man studying the Top 50 phrasal verbs in English

Phrasal verbs are usually made up of a verb and a preposition or an adverb – and that’s what makes them tricky!

Attaching a tiny little word like ‘at’ or ‘on’ to the end of a verb will change the meaning entirely. So, it’s important to really know your phrasal verbs so that your meaning is always clear. 

Read on for our list of the top 50 phrasal verbs in English!

Top 50 English phrasal verbs

1. Back downTo stop doing something or admit you were wrong because people oppose you
If we keep protesting the new city taxes, the mayor will back down.
2. Blow up
To explode
That truck crashed into the building and blew up!
To lose your temper
He was annoying me so much that I blew up at him. 
3. Break downTo suddenly stop functioning (used for machinery)
We were on our way to the party when our car broke downTo become emotional and start crying
When we told her we were moving to Canada, she broke down
4. Bring upTo mention something
He’s still very sad about his divorce, so don’t bring it up. 
5. Bump intoTo see or meet someone unexpectedly
She was shopping today and she bumped into her old primary school teacher!
6. Call offTo cancel 
Because of the pandemic, we had to call off our wedding. 
7. Check onTo make sure someone is okay or safe
My friend broke her leg and she’s stuck inside. I check on her every day. 
8. Check outTo examine something to get information about it
Before we decide on that flat, we should check out the neighbourhood. 
To pay your bill and leave (usually a hotel)
Have you packed yet? We have to check out by 11 a.m.
9. Check withTo ask someone if something is okay or permitted
I’m pretty sure I can come to your house. I just have to check with my dad.
10. Come acrossTo find something unexpectedly
When I was cleaning my room, I came across my old photo album. 
To seem a certain way
I’m sure he’s great, but he always comes across as an unfriendly person. 
11. Come backTo return
We had a lovely visit. We’ll come back soon!
12. Come inTo enter
You don’t need to knock – just come in!
13. Come up withTo think of a plan or an idea
Have you come up with a good idea for our group project? 
14. Cut downTo make something fall by cutting it at its base
To build this housing complex, they had to cut down hundreds of trees.
To do or use something less
I’m feeling rather nervous lately – I think I need to cut down on coffee.
15. Drop byTo go somewhere (usually someone’s home) for a casual visit
I’ll be home all day. You can drop by for tea whenever you’re free.
16. Drop offTo take something or someone to a specific place
You forgot your jacket in my car. I’ll drop it off at your house later.
17. Ease up onTo become less strict about something
When I was younger, my mom didn’t let me see my friends on weeknights, but she’s eased up on her rules lately. 
18. Fall apartTo break into pieces 
I think I finally need to get new shoes – these ones are falling apart.
To stop working well due to many problems
When they couldn’t agree on a fair price, the business deal fell apart.
19. Fall downTo collapse and fall to the ground
That big storm last night caused the old tree in our garden to fall down
20. Find outTo discover
I did a DNA test and found out that I have a brother!
21. Get alongTo have a good, friendly relationship with someone
My brother and I never fought when we were growing up. We always got along with each other.
22. Get awayTo escape
The police almost caught the bank robber, but he got away
To go on holiday
I really need to get away for a week. Work has been very stressful lately. 
23. Get byTo be able to live through a difficult situation
We don’t have a lot of money for food, but we’ll get by
24. Get overTo recover from a negative experience or an illness 
I know she’s mad at you now, but she’ll get over it. 
25. Get upTo stand
Can you please get up? I think you’re sitting on my glasses.
To leave your bed in the morning/after sleeping
I always get up at 7 a.m. – even on Saturdays.
26. Give awayTo give something to others for free 
None of these dresses fit me anymore. I think I’m going to give them away
To provide information about something that should be kept secret
This farewell party is supposed to be a surprise. Don’t give away the secret!
27. Give inTo finally agree to someone’s requests after refusing for a while
Our kids have been asking us for a puppy for six months. We finally gave in and got them one. 
28. Give upTo stop doing something permanently
My health is getting worse. I need to give up drinking. 
To stop trying 
We’ve been working on this maths problem for an hour. I give up!
29. Go aheadTo start or continue a planned activity 
Despite the social distancing rules, the music festival will go ahead.
30. Go outTo leave home and go somewhere
We’ve stayed home for months! I just want to go out and have fun.
To have a romantic (dating) relationship with someone
My girlfriend and I have been going out two years now.
31. Grow upTo develop into adulthood
When I grow up, I want to be a biologist. 
32. Hang onTo wait for a short period of time
Can you hang on for two minutes? I just need to finish writing this email, then I’ll be ready to go.
To hold something tightly
This boat ride will be a little bumpy – hang on!
33. Hang outTo spend time relaxing or socialising casually
My favourite thing to do at the weekend is to hang out with my dog.
34. Kick outTo forcefully tell someone to leave a place
She was so angry at her teenage son that she kicked him out of the house!
35. Let inTo allow someone to enter a place
Let me in the house! It’s freezing out here!
36. Look afterTo take care of something or someone 
Can you look after my plants while I’m on holiday next month?
37. Look forTo try to find something
We’ll leave in a minute. Help me look for my keys!
38. Look upTo search for information (usually in a book or online)
I want to try that new Japanese restaurant. Can you look up their menu online?
39. Make upTo become friendly with someone again or forgive them after a disagreement or fight 
You two haven’t spoken to each other in three weeks! When are you going to make up? 
40. Pay backTo repay the money you borrowed from someone 
Can I borrow some money for lunch? I’ll pay you back tomorrow. 
To take revenge
I can’t believe she ate all the biscuits I made! I’ll pay her back for this!
41. Pick upTo lift something from a surface 
My dog has got so big! He’s too heavy for me to pick up now.
To go somewhere and collect something or someone 
Let’s go to the cinema in one car – I’ll pick you up at 8 o’clock.
To improve or increase
Business was slow last year, but sales are finally picking up!
42. Put offTo delay doing something
I know I should clean my bathroom, but I’ve been putting it off for weeks. 
43. Put onTo begin wearing something
If you want to play outside in the snow, make sure to put on a coat.
44. Put up withTo tolerate something
The neighbour’s dog barks all night long, but I put up with it because I love my house. 
45. Run outTo have no more of something 
Oh, no! Why didn’t you tell me we ran out of coffee?
46. Take offTo leave somewhere suddenly
He didn’t even say goodbye. He just took off!
To go into the air (used for aircraft)
Our flight is taking off at 2 p.m. so we need to be at the airport by 11 a.m.
To remove something (like an article of clothing)
I can’t wait to get home and take off these tight shoes!
47. Turn onTo cause something to start working; to activate
It’s getting dark; let’s turn on the lights.  
48. Turn upTo increase the volume, heat, or lights 
This is my favourite song! Turn it up!
To appear suddenly 
Would you believe our cat turned up after being lost for six months?
49. Wait upTo stay awake because you are waiting for something or someone
I’ll be home late tonight. You don’t have to wait up for me.
50. Watch outTo be careful of danger (usually said as a warning)
Watch out! There’s a car coming!

So there you have 50 of the top phrasal verbs in English. Now put them into practice and book a Lingoda lesson!

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