Three word phrasal verbs

Posted by Manjusha Filed in English speaking

Some phrasal verbs have three parts. Most of them are inseparable. Here is a list of the most common three-word phrasal verbs.

Break in on

To break in on is to interrupt (a conversation).

I was talking to Susie when James broke in on our conversation.

Cash in on (inseparable)

To cash in on something is to take advantage of it.

The politicians accused one another of cashing in on the national calamity.

Catch up with = keep abreast

As I was holidaying I couldn't catch up with the news.

Chalk up to (separable)

To chalk A up to B is to explain that A is the result of B.

I think we should chalk this problem up to a misunderstanding. (= This problem is the result of a misunderstanding.)

Check up on = examine, investigate

He has agreed to check up on the condition of the holiday house from time to time.
We have employed a person to check up on the condition of our ancestral home from time to time.

Come up with

To come up with is to contribute a suggestion or money.

Can you come up with a better idea?

Cut down on = curtail, reduce

She must cut down on the money she is spending on cosmetics.
If you have diabetes, you have to cut down on sugar.

Do away with

To do away with a custom is to abolish it.

Activists have been demanding that the death penalty should be done away with.

Drop out of = leave school

He dropped out of school before the end of the term.

Fall back on (inseparable)

When you fall back on something, you turn to it when you are in trouble.

She has an MBA to fall back on if her acting career does not take off.
When modern drugs failed to cure his illness, he fell back on Ayurveda.

Fed up with (inseparable)

When you are fed up with somebody, you are tired of them.

I'm fed up with my neighbor. He is always picking up fights with me.

Fill in for (inseparable)

To fill in for somebody is to do their job temporarily.

Jack has agreed to fill in for me when I take a holiday next week.

Get along with = have a good relationship with

I find it hard to get along with my mother-in-law.

Get away with = escape punishment

He cheated on the exam and then tried to get away with it.

Get on with

To get on with something is to make progress in it.

It took me quite some time to get used to the new school, but I am getting on well with my studies.

Get rid of = eliminate

We must get rid of corruption.

Get through to

To get through to somebody is to make them understand something.

As I had never worked with autistic children, I found it rather difficult to get through to them.

Go on about

To go on about something is to talk about it continuously in an annoying way.

Don't ask her anything about her illnesses. She will keep going on about it.

Keep up with = maintain pace with

Slow down! I can't keep up with you.

Live up to

This expression is commonly used with the words expectations, promises, reputation, name, principles. To live up to expectations is to do what people expect you to do.

The movie was good, but it didn't live up to my expectations.
Apple's latest iPhone has managed to live up to its reputation.

Look forward to = anticipate with pleasure

I look forward to your next visit.

Look down on = despise

He looks down on his subordinates.

Look in on = visit somebody

We are going to look in on your father.

Look out for = be careful, anticipate

If you are on the road on a Saturday night, look out for drunk drivers.

Look up to = respect

We all look up to him.

Make away with / make off with

To make away with money or jewels is to steal and take them away.

The robbers snatched my wallet and made away with it.
The thieves made off with the jewels.

Make up for (inseparable)

To make up for something is to improve a bad situation by compensating for it somehow.

If you want to make up for the lost time, you will have to burn the midnight oil.

Make sure of = verify

Make sure of the identity of every visitor before you let him in.

Measure up to

To measure up to somebody is to be as good as them.

He might have won several awards, but he just doesn't measure up to the great actors of his time.

Put down to (separable)

To put A down to B is to say that A is the result of B.

She put her success down to hard work. (= She said that her success is the result of hard work.)

Put with up = tolerate

It is hard to put up with her little ways.

Run away from

To run away from a situation is to try to avoid it.

I'm glad that you didn't run away from your responsibilities.

Run out of = exhaust supply

We are running out of oil.

Stand in for

To stand in for somebody is to do their job temporarily.

Susie asked me if I could stand in for her in the debate and I readily agreed.

Take care of = be responsible for, look after

Talk back to = answer impolitely

The teacher was really upset with the boy who talked back to her.

Wake up to

To wake up to something is to become aware of it.

We are yet to wake up to the dangers of air pollution.

Walk away from

To walk away from an unpleasant situation is to leave it instead of dealing with it.

One can never walk away from one's problems.

He loved his family so the thought of walking away from them never crossed his mind.

When you walk away from an accident you manage to escape unharmed.

Fortunately, the driver was able to walk away with only a few bruises.

Walk off with / walk away with

To walk off with a prize is to win it.

Walk out on = abandon

More English speaking lessons

What are phrasal verbs?
Important phrasal verbs
Idioms and expressions with heart
Idioms and expressions with hand
Meeting people
Telling time
Asking about health
Asking people to repeat
Getting people's attention and offering apologies
Names and titles
Wishing people
Saying Thanks
Saying Please
Meals, drinking