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10 Uncommon Phrasal Verbs to Boost Your Vocabulary and Fluency

What is a Phrasal Verb? A Comprehensive Guide

When we dive into the vast world of English language learning, one of the intriguing elements that often comes up is the “phrasal verb.” So, what exactly is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb is a unique grammatical construction that brings together a primary verb and one or more particles. These particles can be either adverbs, prepositions, or, occasionally, a combination of both. For instance, in the phrasal verb “run into,” “run” is the main verb and “into” is the preposition.

The fascinating aspect of phrasal verbs is their idiomatic nature. This means that the combined meaning of the verb and its particle(s) can differ from their individual definitions. As a result, they often pose challenges to non-native speakers. However, when used correctly, they have the power to make your speech or writing sound incredibly native and fluent.

For example, the phrasal verb “give up” doesn’t merely mean “to give something in an upward direction.” Instead, it translates to “to quit or stop trying.”

Why are Phrasal Verbs Important in English?

Learning phrasal verbs is essential for anyone aiming for fluency in English. They are extensively used in both written and spoken English, across various forms of media, be it newspapers, TV shows, or casual conversations. Mastering them will not only enhance your comprehension but also elevate your expression.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why native speakers seem to have a different way of expressing things or if you’ve ever been baffled by a seemingly simple sentence’s meaning, there’s a good chance phrasal verbs are playing a role.

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and an adverb or preposition (and sometimes both). These are idiomatic phrases, which means that you will sound native if you use them correctly!


Some common examples you may have encountered before are “find out”, “clean up”, and “log in”, and you might even know how to use them already!

However, just below, we are going to examine 10 phrasal verbs that are a little more advanced:

PHRASES DEFINITION EXAMPLE CONTEXT/NUANCE
Ask for To make a request Did you remember to ask for extra napkins? This is straightforward but ensure the right preposition is used.
Break down To stop working (often used with vehicles) I’m driving and my car is about to break down! Don’t confuse with “break up” which refers to ending relationships.
Call off To cancel something that had been planned We must call off the staff meeting. Used in both professional and informal settings.
Cheer up To become happy after feeling down There’s always next year, so cheer up! Often used as encouragement to look on the bright side.
Dress up To dress in a formal way/wear a nice outfit Is she going to dress up for the event? Can also refer to wearing costumes, like for Halloween.
Get around to To finally do something that could have been done earlier My neighbor needs to get around to mowing his lawn. Often implies procrastination or delay.
Give up To quit or stop trying Math is so difficult. It makes me want to give up! This phrase can sound negative, so use with positive encouragement.
Look up to To have respect/admiration for someone They look up to their soccer coach. Used to show deep respect, not just a passing admiration.
Put up with To tolerate something that is inconvenient/annoying The family had to put up with rain on vacation. Implies endurance or patience with something bothersome.
Think over To consider something carefully Be sure to think over your college plans! Gives a sense of deep contemplation or consideration.

Let’s Sum It Up: Why Phrasal Verbs Matter

Phrasal verbs can seem hard, but they are very useful in English. By learning and using them, you can talk more like people who speak English every day.

Today, we looked at 10 phrasal verbs. But there are many more out there! Try to use these 10 in your speaking or writing. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

What do you think? Which of these phrasal verbs did you like? Can you think of times when you might use them? Please tell us what you think. And if you liked this post, share it with your friends who are learning English too. Together, we can learn and enjoy English more!

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