Common phrasal verbs in examples

Click on links and learn phrasal verbs.

We often use verbs with these words:

on off in out up down away
back over about round forward through along

We often use these words (particles) with verbs of movements. For example:

get on The bus was full. We couldn't get on.
drive off She got into the car and drove off.
came back Tom is leaving tomorrow and coming back on Saturday.
turn round When I touched him on the shoulder, he turned round.

But often these words (on / off / up / down etc.) give a special (an idiomatic) meaning to a verb. For example:

These multi-word verbs (break down / get up / get on etc.) are phrasal verbs.

Sometimes a multi-word verb has an object. Usually there are two possible positions for the object (noun or pronoun): before the particle or after the particle.

In general there are four types of multi-word verbs:

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

The following phrasal verbs are not followed by an object:
"Once you leave home, you can never really
go back again."

That old Jeep had a tendency to break down just when I needed it the most.
Popular songs seem to catch on in California first and then spread eastward.
Father promised that we would never come back to this horrible place.
They tried to come in through the back door, but it was locked.
He was hit on the head very hard, but after several minutes, he started to come to again.
The children promised to come over, but they never do.
We used to just drop by, but they were never home, so we stopped doing that.
When we visited Paris, we loved eating out in the sidewalk cafes.
Uncle Heine didn't have much money, but he always seemed to get by without borrowing money from relatives.
Grandmother tried to get up, but the couch was too low, and she couldn't make it on her own.
It's hard to imagine that we will ever go back to Lithuania.
We would finish one Dickens novel and then just go on to the next.
The cops heard all the noise and stopped to see what was going on.
Charles grew up to be a lot like his father.
The judge warned the stalker to keep away from his victim's home.
He tried to keep on singing long after his voice was ruined.
He had drunk too much; he passed out on the sidewalk outside the bar.
Whenever he sat down at the piano, we knew he was going to show off.
Day after day, Efrain showed up for class twenty minutes late.
I woke up when the rooster crowed.

Separable phrasal verbs

The object may come after the following phrasal verbs or it may separate the two parts:
turned off the light.
I turned the light off.
You have to do this paint job over.

When the object of the following phrasal verb is a pronoun (it / them / me / you / him / her / us), the two parts of the phrasal verb must be separated:
I turned it off.

The terrorists tried to blow up the railroad station.
The matter brought up at the committee.
They called off this afternoon's meeting.
Do this homework over.
Fill out this application form and mail it in.
She filled up the grocery cart with free food.
My sister found out that her husband had been planning a surprise party for her.
The filling station was giving away free gas.
My brother borrowed my car. I have a feeling he's not about to give it back.
The students handed in their papers and left the room.
She hung up the phone before she hung up her clothes.
I hate to hold up the meeting, but I have to go to the bathroom.
Three masked gunmen held up the Security Bank this afternoon.
You left out the part about the police chase down Asylum Avenue.
The lawyers looked over the papers carefully before questioning the witness. They looked them over carefully.
You've misspelled this word again. You'd better look it up.
She knew she was in trouble, so she made up a story about going to the movies with her friends.
He was so far away, we really couldn't make out what he was saying.
There were three men in the line-up. She picked out the guy she thought had stolen her purse.
The crane picked up the entire house. Watch them pick it up
As we drove through Paris, Francoise pointed out the major historical sites.
We put away money for our retirement. She put away the cereal boxes.
We asked the boss to put off the meeting until tomorrow. (Please put it off for another day.)
I put on a sweater and a jacket. (I put them on quickly.)
The firefighters put out the house fire before it could spread. (They put it out quickly.)
I read over the homework, but couldn't make any sense of it .
My wife set up the living room exactly the way she wanted it. She set it up.
These are your instructions. Take them down before you forget.
It was so hot that I had to take off my shirt.
We have serious problems here. Let's talk them over like adults.
That's a lot of money! Don't just throw it away.
She tried on fifteen dresses before she found one she liked.
I tried out four cars before I could find one that pleased me.
Your radio is driving me crazy! Please turn itdown.
He applied for a promotion twice this year, but he was turned down both times.
Grandpa couldn't hear, so he turned up his hearing aid.
We turned off the lights before anyone could see us.
It was a disgusting movie. It really turned me off.
Turn on the CD player so we can dance.
The gang members used up all the money and went out to rob some more banks.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs (Transitive)

With the following phrasal verbs, the lexical part of the verb (the part of the phrasal verb that carries the "verb-meaning") cannot be separated from the prepositions (or other parts) that accompany it:
"Who will
look after my estate when I'm gone?"

The teacher called on students in the back row.
The old minister continued to call on his sick parishioners.
I got over the flu, but I don't know if I'll ever get over my broken heart.
The students went over the material before the exam. They should have gone over it twice.
They country went through most of its coal reserves in one year. Did he go through all his money already?
My mother promised to look after my dog while I was gone.
The police will look into the possibilities of embezzlement.
I ran across my old roommate at the college reunion.
Carlos ran into his English professor in the hallway.
My second son seems to take after his mother.
It seemed strange to see my old boss wait on tables.

Three-Word Phrasal Verbs (Transitive)

With the following phrasal verbs, you will find three parts:
"My brother
dropped out of school before he could graduate."

I was talking to Mom on the phone when the operator broke in on our call.
After our month-long trip, it was time to catch up with the neighbors and the news around town.
I was talking to Mom on the phone when the operator broke in on our call.
The boys promised to check up on the conditions of the summer house from time to time.
After years of giving nothing, the old parishioner was able to come up with a thousand-dollar donation.
We tried to cut down on the money we were spending on entertainment.
I hope none of my students drop out of school this semester.
I found it very hard to get along with my brother when we were young.
Janik cheated on the exam and then tried to get away with it.
The citizens tried to get rid of their corrupt mayor in the recent election.
When will you ever get through with that program?
It's hard to keep up with the Joneses when you lose your job!
I always look forward to the beginning of a new semester.
It's typical of a jingoistic country that the citizens look down on their geographical neighbors.
We were going to look in on my brother-in-low, but he wasn't home.
Good instructors will look out for early signs of failure in their students.
First-graders really look up to their teachers.
Make sure of the student's identity before you let him into the classroom.
The teacher had to put up with a great deal of nonsense from new students.
The runners ran out of energy before the end of the race.
My oldest sister took care of us younger children after Mom died.
The star player talked back to the coach and was thrown off the team.
I often think back on my childhood with great pleasure.
Her husband walked out on her and their three children.

Phrasal Verbs: One Verb After Another (under construction)

Phrasal Verb: Look

Are you still looking [about] for a job?
Who will look after the baby.
Look at this picture, please.
He looks at work in a different way now he's in charge.
They look carefully at a problem.
Look at Mrs Jones; drink killed her.
Something you were looking for, but you can't find it, and you can't remember what it was. So I'll tell you. It's the monitor you're looking for, and it isn't there.
I'll look in and see you next week.
Look out! There is a car coming.
I half-expected Candy to open my door and look out to see what the fracas was, but the door stayed firmly closed.
If you don't know the word look it up in the dictionary.

Phrasal Verb: Put

Close the books and put them aside.
I'll just put the car away.
Take your notebooks and put down all the words that are on the board.
Mr. Gough put off his trip to London until next month.
She put her hat and coat on.
She put the light [the fire] out.
I can't put up with your rudeness anymore; leave the room.

Phrasal Verb: Come

I came across this book in a little store.
I want you come along (with us), or you'll miss the bus.
Come back here. I want to talk to you.
The button has come off my coat.
Come on or will be late.

Phrasal Verb: Get

They do get along (well) together.
I am getting off at the next station (stop).
How do you get on?
It was too hard for her to get over that illness.
Let's get together.
If he gets up early, he'll come on time.

Phrasal Verb: Find

She's unpleasant. She always finds fault with people.
He found himself after graduating the University.
You can't trust him until you find everything out.

Phrasal Verb: Run

Yesterday I ran into my friend whom I haven't seen since we left school.
Why are you so upset? - My kitten was run over by a car.
I'll have to go to the baker's as we've run out of bread.

Phrasal Verb: Give

They gave away their food for free.
He has given in to my views.
Give out the textbooks.
He had to give up studying because of poor health.
You should give up smoking.

Phrasal Verb: Go

I don't go in for sport.
The light went off and the film began.
Go on with your work.
You may take this book. I can easily go without it for a month.

Phrasal Verb: Turn

Turn that radio down at once.
My umbrella turned inside out.
When leaving, don't forgot to turn off the stove.
She turns on her charm whenever she wants anything.
You'll have to turn up tomorrow. It's very important for us.


  1. Raymond Murphy. English Grammar in Use: a self-study reference and practice book for intermediate students, with answers. Cambridge University Press 1985. ELOD 1992. 328 p. - Unit 130: Phrasal verbs (get up, break down, fill in etc.).
  2. Liz & John Soars. New Headway English Course: Intermediate Student's Book. Oxford University Press 1996. Impression 1998. 160 p.
  3. Common Phrasal Verbs. URL:
  4. Active Study Dictionary of English. Longman Group Limited 1983. Moscow: Russki Yazyk 1988. 710 p.

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