The Importance of Learning Phrasal Verbs


Phrasal verbs

We have written several posts about Phrasal Verbs.  Today we hope to clarify why learning phrasal verbs is important.  

Phrasal verbs are generally made up of a verb and a particle/preposition.  Together, the words take on a very different meaning.  As an ESL student, your first impulse may to ignore learning PVs.  But eventually, as an advanced English student, you will want to know them.  Why?  These are phrases that native English speakers use every day – not just once in a blue moon.

Sometimes, you may be able to gather the meaning from the context of the conversation.  But that is not always true.  Consider the following examples.  On the left, I have added short sentence using common phrasal verbs. Review just those sentences in the left column.  Do you understand the meaning of each?

If you did not understand the sentences in the first column, you should appreciate the value of studying PVs.  Go ahead and take a look at the second column.  We have used the same PVs with more context.  Do you understand all of them now?


How were her parents?
They put on a good show.
Her parents were sad, but they didn’t show it.  They put on a good show.
She didn’t show up. Her friend was supposed to meet her.  She waited an hour, but her friend did not show up.
Last night she threw up. She had too much champagne last night and felt very sick.  She made her way to the toilet and threw up.  She felt better after that.
She dozed off in class. She didn’t sleep well last night.  Today in class, it caught up to her and she dozed off.
It came off well. You can tell she put a lot of work into planning the event.  It came off well.
Did you do your homework?
I couldn’t figure it out.
I worked on those algebra problems for hours.  I am normally good at math, but not so good at algebra!  I couldn’t figure them out.
He always gives in to his father. His father is very persistent.  He is constantly asking his son to do things that his son does not want to do.  His son always gives in and does them.
I just want to get it over with. I am dreading the algebra exam.  I studied, but I don’t think I will do well.  I wish it were today so I could get it over with.
I can’t put up with her anymore!

I don’t like that saleswoman.  But she is there every time I go to the market.  She is very pushy – she always tells me what to buy.  She also tells me not to buy the things I like.  I just can’t put up with her anymore!  I am going to go to a different market!

For more information on Phrasal Verbs, view these posts:


Phrasal Verbs – Writing Exercise

Below are two charts of phrasal verbs for beginners.  These are the phrasal verbs contained in Chapters 1 and 2 of the Ultimate Phrasal Verb book.  If you don’t have a copy of that book for reference, you can use this link to look up the definitions of each:

Remember, phrasal verbs can be tricky.  They can often have more than one meaning.  They may also be separable or nonseparable.  For example:

I took my shoes off.

I took off my shoes.

However, when substituting a a pronoun in place of the noun, the pronoun must be placed between the verb and the preposition/particle:

I tookthem off.

The plane took off.

The plane took off.

I took off my shoes.

I took off my shoes.


Chapter 1

Take off Put on


Ran into


Come from Figure out Give back
Look for Put on Show up

Chapter 2

Come off Doze off Fall for
Give in Hear about Pull through
Stay off Throw up

Writing Exercise Instructions:

Create a short story.  Use as many of the above phrasal verbs as possible.  Try to use other forms (tenses) of the verbs.  For example:  Take off – took off – takes off – taking off – taken off.

The topic:  A young Turkish woman went to University in the U.S. on a full scholarship from the Turkish government.  She is now flying to a poor country to work with the poor.

Below are some suggestions for your story:

  • She is helping the poor as way to do something for others because of the scholarship she received.
  • There may be a handsome gentleman on the plane.
  • She, or another passenger, may be sick.

If you would like me to review your work, please contact me at


Definitions Part 2: TV, Cooking & Baseball

This is the second part of definitions from the video clip we shared with you.  The clip was a TV cooking competitions hosting chefs from baseball parks. Part 1 of the definitions was provided yesterday.  The third and final part will be coming soon.

Click the links for more information on each.

Field of Dreams – This is the name of a movie made in 1989 – basically about baseball.  It means a place where anything can happen, anything you dream.

The Big ShowThis term most likely comes from the circus.  The big tent hosted the big show.  The term was made famous on by Ed Sullivan on his TV show.  It is used to describe a grand event.

Hit it with – In this case, it means to add something to the recipe.  This is different from “hitting the books” or “hitting the sack.”

Major bragging rightsMajor means big or important.  Bragging rights are the privilege one earns to talk about themselves after a victory.

Opening DayThis is the first day of the baseball season for any baseball team.  Opening day opens the season.

Butterflies in my stomach –  This is an idiomatic expression that means you are anxious and have a nervous feeling in your stomach.

We go through a tonWhile a ton is a very big measurement, we use it to simply mean a lot and to go through means to use.  So here we have, “We cook a lot of sausage at the ballpark.”

Don’t forget to check back for Part 3!  And keep an eye on our YouTube Channel for upcoming new videos!

Definitions Part 1: TV, Cooking & Baseball

Yesterday we posted a short video clip.  The clip was a well-known TV show called, “Chopped,” a cooking competition.  It contained many American idioms, phrasal verbs and slang.  Below are some of the definitions for the terms contained in that clip.  There will be more posts coming up soon with the rest of the definitions.  Click through the links for more information on each.

Take you out to the ballgame – this refers to a song written in 1908 called, “Take me out to the Ballgame.”  It is the unofficial anthem of North American baseball.

Serve up way more than peanuts – The idiom, “serve up” means to distribute or deliver food for people to eat or to offer something.  Peanuts are commonly eaten at baseball games.  “Way more” means a lot more.

Big hitters – A baseball player who is capable of hitting the ball far or hard.  A person with a great deal of influence and importance, a powerful person, is also called a big hitter or a heavy hitter.

Doesn’t cut it – This idiom means not able to deal with problems or difficulties satisfactorily, for example, when one does not reach a goal, he does not cut it.

You will be chopped – To chop is to cut or sever with a quick, heavy blow or a series of blows, using an ax, hatchet.   This idiom means that the person will be “cut out” of the competition, that is, they lose.

Batter Up! – This is commonly heard at a baseball game.  “Batter Up” means it is time for the next player to take his turn at bat (hitting the baseball with a baseball bat).  Figuratively, this idiom means it is the next person’s turn.