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Important phrasal verbs

Here is a list of the most commonly used phrasal verbs in English. Each phrasal verb is followed by its meaning / definition and example sentences. Note that a phrasal verb can be separable or non-separable.

Ask out (separable)

To ask out is to ask someone to go on a date with you.

  • I asked her out but she said ‘no’.
  • I am going to keep asking her out until she says ‘yes’.
Bring about (separable)

To bring something about is to cause it to happen.

  • It was the invention of the steam engine that brought about the industrial revolution.
Bring up (separable)

1) look after during childhood 2) cause something to be considered 3) vomit

  • He was brought up by his grandmother.
  • She brought up an interesting proposal.
Call back (separable)

Return a telephone call

  • I will call you back.
Call in (separable)

Ask someone to come to a place for a special reason

  • We have called the doctor in. (= We have asked the doctor to come.)

Call off (separable)

To call something off is to cancel it.

  • She has called off her wedding.

Call on (non-separable)

1) visit 2) ask a student a question in class

  • Jane called on me yesterday. (NOT Jane called me on yesterday.)

Call up (separable)

To call somebody up is to call them on the telephone.

  • I will call you up when I have time.

Catch up with (non-separable)

To catch up with somebody is to reach the same position or level as them.

  • Her husband is struggling to catch up with her.

Check in (non-separable)

To check in is to register at a hotel.

  • They checked in at 8 am.

Check into (non-separable)

To check into something is to investigate it.

  • The officer said that he would check into the matter.

Check out (separable)

1) borrow a book from a library 2) complete a purchase by making payment 3) examine

  • Here is an article you might like. Check it out.

Cheer up (separable)

To cheer somebody up is to make them happier.

  • Her kind words cheered me up.
  • I will buy you an ice cream if that will cheer you up.

Clean up (separable)

Make clean and orderly

  • Clean up the room after you have finished working.

Come across (non-separable)

To come across something is to find it by chance.

  • The other day, I came across an old friend of mine.
  • While reading the newspaper, I came across an interesting advert.

Cross out (separable)

To cross something out is to draw a line through it.

  • Cross out the wrong answers.

Cut off (separable)

To cut something off is to stop, separate or interrupt it.

  • As he hadn’t paid the bill, his electricity was cut off.
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