What is a phrasal verb?
A phrasal verb is a group of words which functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and an adverb, or a preposition, or both. There can be many phrasal verbs (e.g. fall apart, fall behind) associated with one verb (fall). Each phrasal verb behaves as a new verb and takes on a different definition with its meaning different from that of the associated verb. For example, “fall apart” means to break up or disintegrate. It has a vastly different meaning from “fall”.
Do I need to learn phrasal verbs for the PSLE English examination?
Definitely! Phrasal verbs are included in the MOE English syllabus and are heavily tested in Paper 2. Here are a few examples:
In Paper 2 (Vocabulary MCQ)
Phrasal verbs will definitely be tested in one of the questions in this section. A good grasp of phrasal verbs will give a student a high chance to score this one mark.
The boy _____________________ and realised that he had been bound and gagged.
(1) came to
(2) came upon
(3) came about
(4) came through
The answer is Option (1). The meaning of “come to” is to recover consciousness.
In Paper 2 (Vocabulary Cloze)
In this section, students have to understand the context in which an underlined word or phrase is used in a short passage and choose from four options (MCQ) the meaning of the word or phrase. Phrasal verbs are also frequently tested in this section.
Gasping and choking, the bear backed away and veered off into the woods. What a close shave!
The answer is Option (3).
In Paper 2 (Grammar Cloze)
This section tests a variety of questions related to grammar including prepositions (on, for, from, with), connectors (and, although, but, however), pronouns (which, who, this, these, they, them), subject-verb agreement (is, was, are, were) and finally, phrasal verbs. There are 15 options for students to choose from to fill in each of the 10 blanks. For questions related to phrasal verbs, the correct adverb or preposition has to be chosen from the options to match the verb in the sentence so as to suit the context of the sentence.
When Mr. Tan was in his mid-twenties, he took ___________ the business from his father.
Some of the options include “at”, “by”, “for”, “from”, “out”, “over”, “to” and “with”.
The correct answer is “over” as the meaning of the phrasal verb “take over” is to assume control or possession of or responsibility for.
In Paper 2 (Editing)
In this section, there are 6 grammatical errors and 6 spelling errors in a short passage for students to identify and correct. For grammatical questions related to phrasal verbs, the adverb or preposition of the phrasal verb is usually the part which needs to be identified and corrected.
It was better for the boys to stick at their original plan but Henry had another idea.
The correct word should be “to”. The meaning of the phrasal verb “stick to” is to continue to do or use one particular thing.
In Paper 2 (Comprehension Cloze)
This section is challenging to many students because there can be more than one answer for a blank. A student has to read widely and be proficient in both grammar and vocabulary in order to score well for this section. If phrasal verbs are tested, there can only be ONE correct answer for the blank. To score this one point, a student must be familiar with a wide range of phrasal verbs and their definitions.
To solve the problem of global warming, governments should step ______ to enforce laws concerning the use of fossil fuels.
The only answer is “in”. The meaning of the phrasal verb “step in” is to become involved in a discussion or argument.
How can I learn phrasal verbs effectively?
There is no shortcut when it comes to having a rich collection of vocabulary, phrasal verbs and idioms in your knowledge bank. Surely, there is a fair bit of memorisation work involved but that is only the first step. There must be practices to test a student’s understanding as well as reinforce learning in the next step. After all, there are so many phrasal verbs and their meanings that a student must be familiar with before taking the PSLE English Exam.
Before you start to familiarise yourself with the different phrasal verbs and their meanings, you must know the types into which phrasal verbs are categorised. This will help you greatly in understanding sentence structures when phrasal verbs are used.
1. A transitive phrasal verb requires an object to complete its meaning.
Please put on a jacket when you go to the auditorium.
In this case, an object “a jacket” has to follow the phrasal verb “put on” in order to make the sentence meaningful.
2. An intransitive phrasal verb is just the opposite. An object cannot follow an intransitive phrasal verb.
The birthday boy is going to show up soon.
In this case, “show up” is the action and no object receives the action. Hence, we do not write “show up (something)”.
3. A separable phrasal verb allows an object to be placed between the words. Separable phrasal verbs are always transitive, so an object is required.
They have called off the conference.
They have called the conference off.
4. An inseparable phrasal verb requires the words to be together and cannot be split up.
I will look after the baby when you are at work.
The object “the baby” cannot be in the middle of the phrasal verb “look after”.
Hence, we do not write:
I will look the baby after when you are at work.
The Phrasal Verb Power List
We have put together a comprehensive list of phrasal verbs, complete with definitions and example sentences. For more premium content on phrasal verbs, do head over to our Vocabulary online module. Self-marking quizzes are set up to provide instant results and solutions for students to learn independently in the most effective way.
|Phrasal Verb||Definition and Example|
|aim at||to point a weapon at someone or something|
Joe aimed the gun carefully at the target.
to intend to achieve
The negotiations are aimed at achieving a lasting peace between the two countries.
to produce for a particular purpose or a particular group of people
The advertisement is aimed at people who want to lose weight.
|ask for||to request something|
The workers asked for a pay raise.
to say or do something that could result in a negative outcome
You are asking for trouble by walking along the street alone at night.
|back away||to move slowly and carefully away from something or someone|
He cautiously backed away from the venomous snake.
to retreat or withdraw gradually
The management began to back away from the idea of taking over the rival company.
|back down||to withdraw your position in a fight, argument or plan|
Keagan backed down in the argument out of respect for his uncle.
|back off||to move backward in order to get away from someone or something|
As the police approached, the protesters backed off.
to stop threatening or annoying someone
The reporters have agreed to back off and leave the couple alone.
to stop doing or choose not to take action in order to avoid a difficult situation
Jeremy backed off when he realised how much work was involved.
|back up||to move backwards a short distance|
I asked the lady to back up because she was standing too close to me in line.
to support someone or something
Samuel backed up his argument about global warming with some facts.
|barge in||to enter suddenly and noisily, usually interrupting in a rude way|
The unruly kids barged in without knocking.
|beat up||to hurt someone by hitting or kicking them many times|
They threatened to beat me up if I did not give them my money.
to blame or criticise too much
Don’t beat yourself up over such a minor mistake.
|beef up||to make something stronger or more effective|
Security around the city will be beefed up during the event.
|black out||to suddenly become unconscious|
Doris felt dizzy and almost blacked out.
|blow away||to dissipate or remove with a current of air|
The wind was so strong that it blew away some of the tree branches!
to feel overwhelmed, amazed, shocked or emotional by something
When I heard that song for the first time, it just blew me away.
|blow off||to remove something from its place with a current of air|
The strong wind blew her hat off.
to remove and destroy something by shooting it or making it explode
An explosion blew one of the wings off the plane.
|blow out||to extinguish something (typically a flame) with some form of air, such as breath or wind|
Make a wish and blow out your birthday candles!
|blow up||to make something explode|
A nuclear bomb has the power to blow up a whole country.
to become very angry suddenly
What is wrong with Lilian? She just blew up for no reason.
to make something seem more important, negative or significant than it really is
The whole matter was blown up out of proportion.
to make a photograph, document or picture bigger
Can you blow up this picture of my dog?
|bow down||to submit to someone’s orders without resistance|
The rebels refused to bow down to a corrupt government.
|break down||to stop working|
The car broke down just outside the shopping centre.
to stop being successful
At one point, the talks broke down completely.
to separate into the parts that something is made up of
The substance is easily broken down by bacteria.
to start crying, especially in public
Evelyn broke down when she heard the sad news.
to hit something very hard so that it falls down
Firefighters had to break down the door to get into the flat.
to explain something step by step
Please break the process down into simple terms so everyone can understand it.
|break in||to enter a place illegally and with the use of force|
Call the police! Someone is breaking into the house!
|break off||to remove a part of something|
Please break off a piece of chocolate for me.
to end a relationship or a discussion
The two countries have broken off diplomatic relations.
|break out||if something bad such as a war or disease breaks out, it starts|
They got married a month before the war broke out.
to escape from a prison
They broke out of prison and fled the country.
to escape from a situation or way of life
Lisa had been wanting to break out of her boring routine for some time, so she enrolled in a cooking class.
to suddenly begin to have spots on the skin
Sweat was beginning to break out on his forehead.
|break through||to make a way through a barrier or a surface|
The workers had to break through the wall to access the pipes.
|break up||to stop a fight|
The police broke up the fight between the two gangs.
to break something into smaller pieces
Can you break up the ice into smaller pieces?
to end a romantic relationship
Mary broke up with Tom last week.
|bring up||to raise a child|
He was brought up by his grandmother.
to introduce or mention a particular topic
Stanley said the issue would be brought up again at the next climate convention.
|brush off||to remove something (dust particle, insect etc.) with your hand|
Judy brushed the spider off her shoulder without a flinch.
to refuse to listen to someone or accept that something might be true or important
I tried to warn him about the danger, but he just brushed me off.
|brush up||to practise and improve skills or knowledge|
I took a class to brush up my German before the trip.
|bump into||to meet someone unexpectedly|
I bumped into my aunt at the supermarket yesterday.
to accidentally hit against something
As I turned around, I bumped into the cabinet.
|burn down||to destroy a building or something large with fire, or to be destroyed in this way|
The entire house was burnt down in 10 minutes.
|burn out||to stop burning because there is nothing left to burn|
When the candles burn out, use the flashlight.
to lose the energy or drive to do something
If you keep staying up so late working, you are going to burn yourself out.
|burn up||to destroy something with heat or fire|
The spacecraft has a heat shield to prevent it from burning up when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
|butt in||to join a conversation or activity without being asked to|
It is rude to butt in when two people are having a discussion.
|call for||to say publicly that something must happen|
Several of the newspapers were calling for his resignation.
to make something necessary or suitable
The present crisis calls for mature judgment on the part of our leaders.
|call off||to cancel an event that has been previously planned|
They had to call off the beach party because of the storm.
|calm down||to become less violent, nervous, excited or angry|
The manager managed to calm the furious guest down.
|care for||to nurture or take care of someone or something|
It is a mother’s responsibility to care for her child.
to love someone in a way that is based on friendship
Good friends genuinely care for one another.
|carry away||to do something out of the ordinary due to strong emotions|
When Kathy realised that she had won the first prize, she got carried away and started dancing.
|carry on||to continue doing something or to continue on in life despite obstacles|
After the race, I was too tired to carry on with other activities.
|carry out||to do a task|
We are carrying out a market research survey.
|catch on||to understand|
Marilyn finally caught on to what Mr. Tan was telling her.
to become popular or fashionable
The idea of glasses being a fashion item has been slow to catch on.
|cave in||to collapse into a hollow area below|
We were able to get out of the house before the roof caved in.
to submit or yield to someone or something
Under the threat of a strike, the management caved in and agreed to increase the pay of all workers.
|check in||to officially confirm one’s arrival at a certain place where one is expected, such as a hotel|
I’ll go check in at the front desk and get our room key.
to communicate with someone at certain intervals of time so as to provide or ask about an update in status
I’m just checking in to see if you’re feeling better.
|check out||to leave a hotel or other forms of accommodation after a stay|
Hotel guests usually have to check out by 2 p.m.
to examine someone or something in order to be certain that everything is correct, true or satisfactory
The inspectors are checking out the infrastructure of the building to ensure that they meet the guidelines.
to pay for items before leaving a store
I had already checked out when I remembered that we were out of milk.
|clear up||to do something to solve a problem or a mystery|
We need to clear up the misunderstanding between them.
when an infection or rash no longer exists
If this infection doesn’t clear up, I won’t go on the trip.
when the weather changes from bad to good
I hope the weather clears up soon so we can go outside and play.
|close down||to end business operations|
The café is closing down because the owner is moving to another country.
|come about||to happen|
The crash came about because the plane ran out of fuel.
|come across||to meet someone or to find something by chance|
Have you ever come across such a horrible person in your life?
to form a particular opinion of someone
Bernice comes across as a very confident person.
|come into||to inherit or acquire something|
Freddy came into a large sum of money when his grandfather died.
|count on||to depend on|
You can always count on Harry for good advice.
|cover up||to hide the truth|
It was a scandal but the company tried to cover the whole matter up.
|crack down||to start dealing with someone or something much more strictly|
The school is cracking down on smoking.
|cross off||to draw a line through a name or item on a list to remove it|
They crossed off the names of the people who had already been invited.
|cut back||to reduce the amount of something|
We are trying to cut back on the amount that we spend on electricity.
|cut down||to reduce the amount of something|
These improvements will cut down on traffic noise.
|doze off||to go to sleep unintentionally|
I was so sleepy that I dozed off on the bus.
|draw in||to induce to enter or participate|
The organisers tried to draw in as many participants as possible.
|drive at||to be making a point or hinting at something|
I do not understand what you are driving at – just tell me exactly what you mean.
|drive out||to force someone or something to leave a place|
Government forces have driven the rebels out of the western district.
|drop in||to pay someone a casual visit|
You are welcome to drop in at any time as I am always home.
|drop out||to quit school or a training course|
Albert dropped out of school because he had to support his family.
|end up||to be in a particular place or state after doing something or because of doing it|
Keep on doing that and you will end up in serious trouble.
|fall apart||to break because of being old or badly made|
I was dusting the old bookshelf when it fell apart.
to lose control of emotions and become unable to deal with a difficult situation
Lynette fell apart as soon as she saw her dog lying dead on the road.
to fail or no longer continue
The company fell apart because of incompetent leaders.
|fall back on||to depend on someone or something that one has kept in reserve after other things have failed|
Tina still has a baking business to fall back on in case her teaching career does not work out.
|fall behind||to move slower than others|
Try not to fall behind the rest of the group on the hike today.
to make less progress or to not do something on time
I hate falling behind in paying my bills.
|fall down||to lose one’s balance and collapse|
Lilian stumbled and fell down just now.
|fall for||to be very attracted to someone|
Did sleeping beauty fall for the prince the first time she saw him?
to believe that a trick or a joke is true
How could you fall for such an obvious trick?
|fall off||to become detached and drop to the ground|
The banner looks like it is going to fall off.
|fall out||to stop being friendly with someone because of a disagreement|
The siblings fell out over their inheritance.
|fall over||to fall to the ground|
I fell over and twisted my ankle in the garden yesterday.
|fall through||to fail|
Our plan fell through at the last minute.
|figure out||to be able to understand something or to solve a problem|
We had to figure out the connection between the two events.
|finish off||to kill someone or an animal that is already wounded and near death|
They had to finish the wounded bear off with a rifle.
|follow up||to find out more about something or to do something more to deal with it|
The police officers are now following up on new leads.
|get ahead||to be more successful or to progress more quickly than others|
The best way to get ahead is through hard work.
|get along||to have good interactions with others|
I get along well with most of my colleagues.
|get around to||to do something after you have intended to do it for some time|
I meant to call you, but somehow I never got around to it.
|get away||to escape from something|
They caught the thief at first but he managed to get away.
to go somewhere to have a rest or a holiday
Let’s get away for the weekend.
|get back at||to take revenge|
Grace tried to get back at him for humiliating her.
|get back to||to contact someone later to give a reply or return a message|
If someone calls during the meeting, tell them I’ll get back to them.
to return to a previous place, activity, pattern or state
Things are finally getting back to normal after the recession.
|get by||to survive or function with just enough of something|
It is not easy getting by without a job.
|get off||to leave a form of transportation|
The bus driver asked the man to get off the bus because he was harassing other passengers.
to leave the place where you work at the end of the day
What time do you usually get off work?
|get over||to move past an obstacle to the other side|
The blizzard made it impossible for the mountaineers to get over the mountain.
to stop feeling bad or stop thinking about something
It will take him a long time to get over the death of his father.
|give in||to agree to do what someone else wants|
The government cannot be seen as giving in to the demands of the terrorists.
|give up||to stop doing something that is difficult to do|
Decide what you want and then do not give up.
to stop a habit
Sally finally persuaded her father to give up smoking.
|go about||to take necessary steps to get something done|
How can we go about solving this problem?
to do something in the way that you usually do
The villagers went about their business as usual.
|go after||to chase someone or something|
It would be dangerous to go after the killer on your own.
to do your best to get something no matter how difficult it is
Daniel trained hard every day because he was going after the gold medal.
|go for||to try to obtain|
If you really want the job, go for it!
|go off||to explode or fire|
The bomb went off this morning.
to stop working or being available
All the lights in the building suddenly went off.
to start making a noise as a signal or warning
I was just lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off.
|go over||to examine or look at something in a careful and detailed way|
Remember to go over your essay for grammar mistakes before you submit it.
to explain something
Let me go over the details again so you’ll understand.
|hand in||to give something to someone in a position of authority|
I handed in my report a week before the deadline.
|hand out||to distribute|
The boys stood outside the station handing out leaflets.
|hand over||to give upon request or demand|
The soldier asked the driver to hand over his documents for inspection.
to transfer control over something or someone to another person
The team was handed over to the assistant coach after the head coach retired.
|hang around||to spend time in a place or an area|
My friends and I were hanging around in the shopping centre after lunch.
|hang on||to hold something for support or comfort|
I am afraid of heights, so I hang on really tight when I climb ladders.
to wait for a short time
The phone operator told Tom to hang on while she searched for his record.
|hang out||to hang something to dry|
After the clothes are washed, hang them out to dry as soon as possible.
to spend a lot of time in a place or with someone
They enjoyed hanging out with each other when they were kids.
|hang up||to hang clothes or an object on a hook, hanger or rod|
Please hang up your coat.
to end a telephone conversation
Let me speak to John before you hang up.
|head for||to be destined for|
They are heading for disaster with their reckless behaviour.
to go in a particular direction
We decided to head for home.
|hold against||to continue to dislike someone or not forgive them because of something bad they have done in the past|
Don’t hold it against your father for not being there for you when you were young.
|hold off||to delay something|
Let’s hold off making a decision until next week.
to prevent something or someone from doing something.
The men were not successful in holding off their enemies with bows and arrows.
|hold on||to wait for a short time|
Do you mind holding on for a moment? I need to finish what I’m doing.
to hold something tightly
Hold on to my hand and you won’t fall!
|hold out||to survive or resist a challenging situation|
I’m starving and I don’t think I can hold out any longer!
|keep away||to avoid getting close to someone or something|
During flu season, I try to keep away from children.
|keep down||to control something and prevent it from increasing in size or number|
We have to try and keep costs down.
|keep from||to prevent someone from doing something or prevent something from happening|
These worries kept her from sleeping properly.
|keep off||to not touch something or to prevent something from touching something|
Keep the flies off the food.
to not go onto a particular area of land
Keep off the grass.
|keep on||to continue doing something|
My brother kept on asking me question after question.
|keep to||to follow a rule or do what you have promised or planned to do|
I think we should keep to our original plan.
to stay within certain limits, topics or areas
Sam has been keeping to a tight budget so he can save for a new car.
|keep up||to continue to do something|
Keep up the good work.
to move at the same speed as someone or something
He had to hurry to keep up with her.
to continue to learn about something so that you know the latest things that are happening
I admire how the older generations are trying to keep up with technology.
|knock down||to hit someone with a vehicle so that they are injured or killed|
The man died in hospital after being knocked down by a car.
to deliberately destroy a building or wall
The wall could be knocked down to make the room bigger.
|knock out||to make someone unconscious|
He hit me and nearly knocked me out.
to destroy something or make it stop working
The earthquake knocked out power supplies in many parts of the city.
|lay off||to end someone’s employment because there is not enough work|
The company had to lay off ten employees due to a fall in revenue.
|leave out||to not include someone or something|
I left out the pepper and used cumin in the recipe instead.
|let down||to disappoint someone|
Darren did not want to let his father down by not joining the army.
|let on||to reveal or disclose something, usually of a private or secret nature|
Why are you letting on to everyone about my business?
|look into||to investigate|
The airline has promised to look into the matter after receiving my letter of complaint.
|look out||to remain alert|
Look out! There is a car coming!
|make off||to leave quickly, especially after doing something wrong|
The kids made off when they heard us coming.
|make up||to invent an explanation for something, especially in order to avoid being punished or embarrassed|
Joe made up some excuse about the dog eating his homework.
to combine together to form something bigger
The book is made up of ten short stories.
to become friendly with someone again after an argument
My sister and I always fight and then make up.
to compensate for something
I am so sorry. Please let me make it up to you!
to apply cosmetics
Lisa is in the bathroom making up her face.
|map out||to plan in detail how something will happen|
Her own future had been mapped out for her by her parents.
|mark out||to draw lines to indicate|
I have marked out the best route to get to the campsite.
|narrow down||to reduce the number of options or possibilities|
The footprint helped the police to narrow down the list of suspects to just men.
|own up||to admit that you have done something bad or embarrassing|
No one has owned up to stealing the money.
|pass away||to die|
He passed away in his sleep at the age of eighty-seven.
|pass out||to become unconscious for a short time|
I was hit on the head and passed out.
|pick on||to keep treating someone badly or unfairly, especially by criticising them|
Bullies usually pick on the smaller kids at school.
|pile up||to accumulate more and more|
The work is starting to pile up so they hired a few more workers.
|plan on||to have the intention to do something|
We are planning on going to New Zealand this year.
|point out||to tell someone something|
Bryan pointed out that we had two hours of free time before dinner.
|press for||to try in a determined way to get something from someone|
The more she pressed him for an explanation, the more he refused to speak.
|pull off||to succeed in doing something difficult or tricky|
A lot of skateboarding stunts look easy but are really difficult to pull off.
|pull over||to drive a vehicle to the side of the road to stop|
We pulled the car over to check the engine.
|pull through||to recover from a serious injury or illness|
Don’t worry, your uncle is going to pull through.
to continue past a difficult situation or challenge
He said the support of his family had pulled him through.
|push on||to continue doing something or going somewhere with determination|
Let’s push on with this project. We must finish it soon.
|put off||to become offended by someone or something|
Judy was put off by Ken’s mannerism.
to postpone doing something
The manager decided to put the meeting off until tomorrow.
to delay doing something, especially because you do not want to do it
You cannot put the decision off any longer.
|put out||to extinguish|
The job of a firefighter is to put out fires.
|put up with||to accept someone or something unpleasant in a patient way|
I will not put up with your bad attitude any longer!
|rule out||to exclude as a possibility|
Dave was ruled out as a suspect due to a lack of evidence.
|run into||to collide with another object by accident|
A truck ran into the red car this morning on the highway.
to meet a person you know unexpectedly
I ran into my primary school teacher yesterday while I was buying lunch.
to have an unexpected problem
Our company ran into financial difficulties when we lost a major client.
|run through||to explain or read something quickly|
Do you want me to run through the details with you?
to practise something so that it is correct for a performance or test
Let’s just run through the song one more time.
|see to||to deal with or take responsibility for someone or something|
Mrs. Chong asked for some help with the project. Could you see to it?
|set in||to begin and seem likely to continue or develop|
Shortly after our business started, a long economic downturn set in.
|set off||to start a journey|
I will set off early to avoid the traffic.
to cause something to operate, especially by accident
The alarm was set off when Tim pushed open the front door.
|show off||to behave in a way that is intended to attract people’s attention and make them admire you|
He drove around his old neighbourhood to show off his brand new car.
to show people something that you are proud of so that they will admire it
Young musicians will get the chance to show off their musical talent at the concert.
|show up||to arrive, especially at the place where someone is waiting for you|
Diana showed up, apologising for being late.
to make it possible to see something
The light colour will show up on a dark background.
|sort out||to arrange or separate things into groups according to similarities|
Make sure you sort out the dark clothes from the white ones before doing the laundry.
to correct a misunderstanding or to solve a problem
I am having a hard time sorting out this problem with the bank.
|speak for||to express the feelings, thoughts or beliefs of a person or group of people|
Regarding the new policy, I can’t speak for the others.
|spur on||to encourage someone to do something|
The thought of success spurred him on.
|stand for||to support or represent an idea of belief|
The stars on the flag stand for the states in the country.
|stand up to||to not allow to be treated badly|
Nobody thought he would be brave enough to stand up to the bully.
|step in||to become involved in a discussion or argument, especially in order to make it stop|
It is time for the government to step in.
|stick to||to limit or commit yourself to doing one thing|
Writers should stick to writing about things they know about.
to continue to do or use one particular thing
I think we should stick to our original plan.
|stir up||to cause an unpleasant emotion or problem to begin or grow|
The teacher told Alex to stop stirring up trouble.
to cause a substance such as dust or soil to move and rise up
The helicopter stirred up clouds of dust.
|take in||to trick someone into believing something that is not true|
Don’t be taken in by their promises.
to understand and remember something that you hear or read
I am not sure how much of his explanation she took in.
to allow someone to stay in your house or your country
I took in a homeless puppy last year.
to collect or earn a particular amount
We did not take in much yesterday because business was bad.
to spend time looking at something
We sat there taking in the scenery.
|talk into||to convince someone to do something|
Keith is against the idea, but I think I can talk him into it.
|tell apart||to recognise the difference between two people or things that are very similar|
It can be difficult to tell identical twins apart.
|tell on||to inform an authoritative figure about the action of someone else|
My brother used to give me candy so I wouldn’t tell on him.
|think up||to use your imagination to create a plan, idea or solution|
It took them many hours to think up a good solution.
|throw up||to vomit|
I feel terrible. I have been throwing up all night.
|touch down||to land an aircraft|
The plane touched down on time.
|turn away||to refuse entry, help or support|
Thousands of applicants are turned away each year.
|turn down||to decrease the temperature, sound etc.|
Can you please turn down the volume? It is too loud!
to reject an offer or request
How could you turn down such a fantastic job?
|turn up||to increase the temperature, sound etc.|
Can you please turn up the volume? I cannot hear anything.
Howard turned up at the party with his friends.
|ward off||to do something to prevent someone or something from harming you|
Janet carried a knife to ward off possible attacks.
|watch out||to be careful|
You could have an accident if you don’t watch out.
|wear out||to make someone feel very tired|
She was worn out from looking after her elderly mother.
to use something a lot so that it no longer works or can no longer be used
The children have all worn out their shoes.
|wipe out||to remove or destroy something or a group of people|
The tsunami wiped out the whole village.
|work out||to find a satisfactory way of doing something|
An international peace plan has been worked out.
to decide or agree on something
We have not worked out a date for the meeting.
to do physical exercise as a way of keeping fit
He works out at the gym every day.
to equal to a particular amount
The bill works out to be about $100 a month.
Do take the time to be familiar with all these phrasal verbs!
Other than the meanings, you should also know the sentence structures with which phrasal verbs are used.