25 Most Useful Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are not students favourite topic, are they? There are so many in the English language and each one has many different meanings.

This is why it’s important to begin memorising the most important ones. Are you ready? Excellent!

It might seem like a lot, but these 25 phrasal verbs will improve not only your written communication, but also your ability to understand conversations. Native speakers use phrasal verbs all the time in conversation!

Most of these phrasal verbs have several meanings, make sure you remember them all!

1. Add up

a- To be added together and equal the expected or correct total.
Example: “We added up the apples: there were 12″

b-To make sense : to seem to be logical or true.
Example: “Her story didn’t add up, I think she was lying, it didn’t make sense”

2. Blow up

a- To fill (something) with air or gas
Example: “Please could you blow up those balloons?”

b- To explode or to cause (something, such as a bomb) to explode.
Example: “The building was blown up by a bomb”

c- To become very angry.
Example: “When I said I couldn’t go to her party, she blew up”

3. Bring up

a- To take care of and teach (a child who is growing up).
Example: “Their grandparents brought them up because their parents were always travelling”

b- To mention (something) when talking : to start to talk about (something).
Example: “Don’t bring up the fight again, please!”

4. Call off

a- To stop doing or planning to do (something) .
Example: “Maria called off the wedding, she decided she didn’t love him”

b- To cause or tell (a person or animal) to stop attacking, chasing, etc.
Example: “Call off your dog! He’s attacking my cat”

5. Carry on

a- To continue to do what you have been doing
Example: “Sorry I interrupted, carry on talking!”

b- To behave or speak in an excited or foolish way.
Example: “The little boy was carrying on: shouting and kicking all day long”

6. Come across

a- To seem to have a particular quality or character : to make a particular impression.
Example: “Julia came across as a bit bossy”

b- To be expressed to someone.
Example: “I tried to sound happy but it came across as over-excited”

c- To meet or find (something or someone) by chance.
Example: “Luis was leaving the fruit shop and he came across Tom, what a coincidence”

7. Come up with

a- To get or think of (something that is needed or wanted).
Example: “We finally came up with a solution to the problem!”

8. Fall apart

a- To break into parts in usually a sudden and unexpected way,
Example: “My cake fell apart when I tried to cut it”

b- To become unable to live in a normal way because you are experiencing a lot of confusion or emotional pain
Example: “After the divorce, she fell apart”

9. Get along

a- To be or remain friendly
Example: “We’re not together anymore, but we get along great”

b- To make progress while doing something.
Example: “How are you getting along at playing the guitar?”

c- To leave a place
Example: “It was lovely to see you, but my friend has to get along, she has class”

d- To become old.
Example: “Her grandma is getting along; she’s almost 99″

10. Get away

a- To go away from a place.
Example: “I can0t wait to get away from the city”

b- To avoid being caught : to escape
Example: “The thieves managed to get away in a stolen car”

c- To not be criticized or punished for (something).
Example: “Yvonne is always lying, I can’t understand how she gets away with it”

11. Get over

a- To stop being controlled or bothered by (something, such as a problem or feeling).
Example: “I got over my fear of flying”

b- To stop feeling unhappy about (something).
Example: “Finally, Kylie got over her ex-boyfriend”

c- To become healthy again after (an illness).
Example: “Have you heard? Dave has gotten over the flu”

12. Give up -

a- To stop an activity or effort : to admit that you cannot do something and stop trying
Example: “We all gave up smoking on January 1st”

13. Go on -

a- To continue.
Example: “They landed in Paris and then went on to Montpellier”

b- To go or travel to a place before another person or group that is with you.
Example: “You go on to the restaurant, I’ll come in 10 minutes”

c- To happen
Example: “What’s going on? What’s happening?”

d- Used in speech to urge someone to do something
Example: “Go on! Try it, it’s delicious”

14. Hold on

a- To have or keep your hand, arms, etc., tightly around something.
Example: “Hold on to the railing, that way you won’t fall”

b- To succeed in keeping a position, condition, etc.
Example: “I will hold on to my job until May”

15. Look after -

a- To take care of (someone or something).
Example: “The nurse looked after the patient for months, until he was better”

16. Look forward to

a- To expect (something) with pleasure.
Example: “William is really looking forward to going on holiday”

17. Look up

a- Improve.
Example: “The economy is finally looking up”

b- To search for (something) in a reference book, on the Internet, etc.
Example: “Let’s look up his number in the yellow pages”

18. Make out -

a- To write down the required information on (something, such as a check).
Example: “Who shall I make the check out to?”

b- To hear and understand (something)
Example: “I can’t make out what you’re saying, can you speak louder?”

c- To kiss and touch for a long time in a sexual way.
Example: “We made out in the back of his car”

19. Pass out

a- To fall asleep or become unconscious.
Example: “Lisa was so tired, she got home and passed out on the sofa”

b- to give (something) to several or many people.
Example: “I passed out leaflets with information on our course”

20. Pull over -

a- To move a vehicle to the side of the road and stop.
Example: “That looks like a lovely restaurant, can you pull the car over and park?”

21. Put down

a- To place (someone or something that you have been holding or carrying) on a table, on the floor, etc.
Example: “You can put the suitcases down in the bedroom”

b- To write (something) : to record (something) in writing
Example: “He put down his memories to write a book when he was older”

c- To give (an amount of money) as a first payment when you are buying something that costs a lot of money
Example: “My husband and I are going to put down some money to buy that house in the centre of town”

d- To kill (an animal) in a way that causes it little pain usually because it is injured or sick
Example: “Jessica had to have her rabbit put down; it was very sick”

22. Put off

a- To decide that (something) will happen at a later time : postpone.
Example: “Graham was so tired he put the shoppin off until next week”

b- To cause (someone) to dislike someone or something
Example: “You’re putting me off my food, stop talking about insects!”

23. Put up with

a- To allow (someone or something unpleasant or annoying) to exist or happen.
Example: “My mother won’t put up with my sisters or I swearing”

24. Turn up

a- To be found usually unexpectedly.
Example: “Oh! My phone turned up in my bed!”

b- To arrive at a place
Example: “As always, Julian turned up late”

c- To increase the volume, temperature, etc., of something by pressing a button, moving a switch, etc.
Example: “Please turn the music up, I love this song!”

25. Watch out

a- To be aware of something dangerous.
Example: “Watch out in the mountain, there are bears there!”


Are there any phrasal verbs you think should also be on the list?


About the author  ⁄ Kate

Kate has been teaching English for 10 years and has taught in Cambodia and Spain. She enjoys picnics in the park, cooking delicious vegan food and the world of social media.

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  • Reply
    25 July 2013

    Kate, you really thought up a great collection of phrasal verbs. I think students should keep on using phrasal verbs in their English conversations. It’s great that students can always count on nice English learning sites like ABA English to help them pick up useful tips and brush up their English :)

    • Reply
      27 February 2014

      yes kate sir micheal is saying right.. i always open this site. tomorrow is my paper of english and there comes a question of phrasal verbs so this site has proved very benefical. almost all the phrasal verbs which come in paper are same which are given here.. thanks alot from my side :)

  • Reply
    seema andana
    5 December 2013

    Thanks a lot for such a great help

  • Reply
    15 January 2014

    I houppe learning English for assist my kids &my self

  • Reply
    3 February 2014

    Thank you so much !! This list is so helpful, many students want to learn phrasal verbs and giving them a list of 25 of the most used ones is surely going to help them :) :) :)

  • Reply
    11 February 2014

    I am Guerry I would like learning English so good best in my grammar, writing ,listening very well but I can’t please I need help

  • Reply
    11 February 2014

    in my post I would like to speak about my dreams and something more .before I need to speak a good English to be better and to know how I can speak with my friend or my principal and then I like English because if I speak English very well that will help me find some job in my way for me English it very important because if I speak I will make a lot of money I would like to be a doctor to be that before I suppose have work to do an to make a lot of money

  • Reply
    11 February 2014

    Thank you Kate for this useful list, I just wanted to let you know that we realized how difficult it can be to learn Phrasal Verbs and therefore have been working lately on our Phrasal Nerds App that we have just released to make learning them fun and interesting. If you want to check it out you can find it on the following links, and we would be happy to hear any feedback you have.

  • Reply
    apprendre la guitare
    26 February 2014

    Whenever you find yourself with a banana that’s getting a little too ripe, peel it,
    and then slice it. Directions: Combine ingredients (except for chocolate chips) in blender and blend until smooth.
    By replacing one or more meals with green smoothies everyday, you give your
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    snack unnecessarily during the day.

  • Reply
    27 February 2014

    Im compiling my own list of top phrasal verbs for students, so Im scouring the internet for ones I may have missed. I think that ANY list of top phrasal verbs has to have pick up and drop off.

  • Reply
    5 March 2014

    Thanks Kate, I was really in pressure because I have the test of idioms tomorrow. Your blog helped me to learn and practically use the idioms .

  • Reply
    9 March 2014

    Kate, this is a very wonderful compilation. I thought I have, At last, found the best list covering the various meanings of each phrasal verb. But, You missed out some meanings like ‘to extinguish’ for ‘put off’ And ‘ to belittle’ for ‘put down’. There are a couple of slip ups I noticed. I hope you recheck the list. Fair job nonetheless. Thank you.

  • Reply
    23 March 2014

    Good web site you have got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writijng like yours these
    days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Taake care!!

  • Reply
    5 April 2014

    This was really helpful.

  • Reply
    12 April 2014

    thx kate btw nice description of ur’s lol! <3

  • Reply
    13 April 2014

    Kate thanks…i hope ths would be helpful 4 my tmrws exam…i guess u missd ‘bring about’ btw need prayers 4 my exam plz..thnks :) keep going

  • Reply
    konatham dheeraj
    14 April 2014

    thank you so much this is very useful i like it

  • Reply
    Tirumala Devi
    1 July 2014

    It is very useful and simplified to understad phrasalverbs like me thankyou

  • Reply
    24 August 2014

    Is their any difference between England’s English, Australian English and American English. Please help.
    And also tell me can we make different sentences using any phrasal verb like blow up.I mean who many sentences can we make on one phrasal verb.

  • Reply
    30 August 2014

    Boss like

  • Reply
    4 September 2014

    Its so very helpfull, specialy in my studies
    Thanks for this information :-)

  • Reply
    10 October 2013

    Thanks Akhil!

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