List 14 - Phrasal Verbs




Phrasal Verb


Example Sentence

accede to

To agree to do something

She would not accede to parental pressure to get married.

account for

To provide explanation for.

Increasing disappearance of icebergs in the Arctic is accounted for by global warming.

agree to

To consent.

She agreed to meet me only after I’ve apologized to her.

agree with

To think the same.

I don’t like you but I agree entirely with what you have said.

amount to

To be the same as.

His decision amounts to an outright refusal.

answer back

To react rudely.

He was told off for answering her back.

answer for

To be responsible for something wrong that one did.

David will have to answer for his impoliteness.

attribute to

To say something is caused by someone or something else.

He attributed his success to his wife’s constant encouragement.

back away

To move away; to withdraw.

He backed away when challenged to a fight.

back down

To withdraw from a commitment.

The government backed down over the issue after widespread protests.

back off

To retreat.

They told him to back off after he put too much pressure on them.

back out

To withdraw from doing something or before it is completed.

We were shocked when he backed out of the project at the last minute.

back up

To confirm what someone says is true.

The witnesses backed up his account of the incident.

blow away

To kill by shooting with a gun.

They threatened to blow the hostages away if the soldiers attempted a rescue mission.  

blow out

To burst.

One of our tyres/tire blew out while we were on our way to catch a train.

blow over

To become weaker.

We waited until the storm blew over before continuing our journey.

blow up

To explode; to destroy by explosion of a bomb.

A suicide bomber blew up a van carrying soldiers.

boil away

To heat until liquid disappears.

I overslept and the water boiled away leaving the kettle intensely hot.

boil down to

To be the main reason or equivalent of.

What his endless arguments boil down to is that he wants others to believe him.

boil over

To lose control of one’s temper.

The discussion boiled over into a shouting match.

break away

To move from or ahead of a group.

The leading runner broke away from the pack on the final lap.

break down

To fail owing to some reason.

After ten years, their marriage broke down irretrievably leading to a divorce.

break in

To enter a building forcibly or illegally.

He was arrested for trying to break in through the window of a house.  

break into

To forcibly enter a building to steal.

They broke into a research laboratory and removed all the animals.

break off

To give up [a habit]. 

She found it hard to break herself off biting nails.

To discontinue a relationship.

Jack broke off with Jill after only three months.

break out

To escape from a place such as a prison.

A plan by some prisoners to break out of the prison was foiled by the prison guards.

break through

To force oneself through an obstruction.

The mod managed to break through the police cordon.

break up

To disperse a crowd.

The police used tear gas to break up the protest demonstration.

To come to an end.

The house-warming party broke up around midnight.

bring about

To cause something to happen.

Global warming will bring about changes in man’s attitude towards the environment.

bring around/round

To make someone regain consciousness.

They were trying to bring him around by giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

bring back

To reuse something.

More and more people are advocating that the death penalty be brought back.

bring down

To cause to collapse.

Corruption and bribery scandals had brought down the government.

bring forth

To produce.

A quarrel about money that brought forth tragic deaths.

bring forward

To make something happen earlier.

The matches have been brought forward to avoid the bad weather.

bring in

To invite someone for a purpose.

The police had to be brought in to settle a seemingly private dispute.

bring on/upon

To make something happen.

There are people who bring misfortune upon themselves.

bring out

To make a good quality noticeable.

Disasters bring out the best in human nature when many volunteer in rescue operations.

bring together

To make people come into close association.

What brought them together is their common interests.

bring up

To care and educate a child.

The divorcee brought up her six children single-handedly.

brush aside

To be unwilling to consider something.

He brushed their suggestions aside, saying they are not practical.

brush off

To refuse to give one’s attention to something.

The film star brushed off a rumour of his impending divorce.

brush up

To resume practicing a skill.

I must brush up on my driving before I get a car.

burn away

To be destroyed by fire.

Fire burnt away the building leaving only the pillars standing.

burn down

To be destroyed by fire.

By the time the firemen arrived, the fire had burnt the houses down.

burn out

To stop burning as there’s nothing left to burn.

The fire was too huge to be extinguished and had to be left to burn itself out.

burn up

To be destroyed completely by fire.

The forest fire burnt up vast tracts of woodland.

buy into

To believe wholeheartedly in something.

That’s your personal belief; I’m not buying into it.

buy off

To bribe.

The accused man’s father tried to buy the judge off but was arrested.

buy out

To purchase stock, etc in order to gain complete control of a company, etc.

He bought out some shareholders and now he has a controlling interest in the business.

buy up

To purchase all that is available of something.

The dealer bought up a huge quantity of a scarce commodity in anticipation of its price increase.





Phrasal Verb

Phrasal Verb Meaning

Example Sentence

call back

To return a telephone call.

I have already called her ten times and she hasn’t called back.

call for

To demand.

The students are calling for more books for the library.

call in

To telephone someone at a particular place. 

The manager called in to say he was on the way. 

To ask for someone’s help or services.

They tried to settle the matter without calling in the police.

call off

To postpone or cancel.

The couple called off their engagement by mutual consent.

call on

To make a brief visit.

She must be hiding every time I called on her as she’s never in.

call up

To select, e.g. as a player.

That was the first time he was called up to play for the team.

carry on

To continue doing something.

When heavy rain started falling, we carried on playing football.

carry out

To do or complete something.

She screamed at them when her instructions were not carried out to the letter.

carry over

To extend beyond a place or time.

Letting his problems at work carry over into his private life caused him to drink to excess.

catch on

To become popular.

He became popular when his new bawdy song caught on very fast.

catch up

To reach same standard as others.

Having been ill for the last few days, I now have got to catch up on my studying.

catch up with

To finally discover someone had done wrong and punish them.

After all these years the law finally caught up with him.

clean out

To remove dirt, rubbish, etc from a place.

They have to clean out the attic before they move out.

clean up

To make a place free from dirt, stains, rubbish, etc.

The group of volunteers gathered to clean up the beach.

clear away

To remove unwanted things or put them back to where they belong so that the place becomes tidy.

The children quickly cleared away all their toys before mum reached home.

clear off

To leave quickly.

They cleared off from chatting in the canteen when the boss entered.

clear out

To make a place tidy by getting rid of unwanted things.

It’s time to clear your bedroom out; it’s cluttered up with piles of books and old magazines.

clear up

To improve, especially weather.

The weather cleared up and we went for a drive along the coast.

close down

To cease operation such as a business, shop, etc.

The factory was forced to close down by falling demand for its products.

close in

To move in on a target and prevent its escape.

The police are closing in on the gang’s hideout.

close off

To not allow access.

Two lanes were closed off for roadwork.

close out

To dispose of something cheaply.

The store is closing out a particular brand of shoes.

close up

To not open for the time during which something is being done.

The supermarket is closed up for renovation.

come about

To happen.

How did it come about that we didn’t meet when we’re both there at the same time?

come across

To meet or find by chance.

I came across a bronze statue of a brontosaurus in an antique shop.

come along

To go somewhere with.

I wanted to go to the cinema but my girlfriend refused to come along with me.

come apart

To separate into pieces.

My glasses came apart when I walked right into someone in the dark.

come around

To change one’s opinion.

He came around after I showed him all the evidence.

To visit someone at home.

I expected you to come around for the drinking session, but you didn’t.

come at

To rush threateningly at someone.

I dreamed he came at me with a dagger and demanded, “Your money or your life?”

come back

To regain success after setback.

He came back from five-nil down to level at seven-all.

come before

To be more important.

She said her children would always come before her career.

come between

To cause conflict between two persons.

He doesn’t allow anything, not even his wife, to come between him and his work.

come by

To find something that is difficult to get.

Plum jobs are hard to come by these days.

come down

To travel south.

They are coming down from Iceland this weekend.

come down on

To punish.

Her parents really came down hard on her for playing truant.

come down to

To be the most important factor.

When it comes down to her political beliefs, she is not prepared to compromise.

come down with

To suffer something infectious, though not serious.

He just came down with a cold, so we have to postpone the trip.

come for

To arrive so as to get something or someone.

You had better hide; they are coming for you.

come forward

To volunteer to provide information.

Despite the high reward offered, no one has come forward with any information.  

come from

To have started from.

He comes from a long line of actors.

come in

To be useful when needed.

These small tools come in handy when we need them.

come of

To happen because of something.

His persistent cough comes of smoking heavily.

come off

To take place or occur.

Despite all our efforts, the social gathering did not come off very well.

come out

To become known.

The truth of the matter will come out sooner or later.

come out of

To result from something

The police combed the entire area for evidence, but nothing came out of it.

come out with

To say something that is unexpected.

He came out with his own interpretation which is not entirely accurate.

come over

To make a casual visit.

If you come over next week, we can do it together.

come to

To regain consciousness.

She came to about an hour after he was admitted to the hospital.

come through

To become clear or obvious.

Her anger came through in her facial expression.

come under

To experience or suffer.

The politician came under widespread criticism for what he proposed.

come up

To move towards.

A stranger came up to me and asked for the way to the museum.

come up against

To deal with.

In parliament, he had to come up against experienced opposition members.

come up for

To be dealt with in the future.

The proposal will come up for revision next week.

come up with

To think of a plan for something.  

They intend to come up with a solution soon. 

To think of an idea.

We welcome anybody who can come up with an alternative plan.

come upon

To discover by chance. 

We came upon a headless corpse when we stepped into a disused mine. 

To find what one has been looking for.

The police finally came upon the spot where the murder supposedly took place.

count down

To call out numbers in descending order to zero.

We like to join in when they count down before the launch of a rocket.

count in

To include someone.

If you are having a drinking session this evening, you can count me in.

count on

To depend.

You can count on my help whenever you need it.

count out

To not include someone.

If you are going on a shopping spree this weekend, count me out.

cross off

To remove an item from a list by drawing a line through it.

As you perform each task, cross it off the list.

cross out

To draw a line through something that is written wrongly.

When you make a mistake, cross it out.

cut across

To take a shorter route than an alternative longer one.

We’d better cut across the park and get home before it rains.

cut away

To remove unwanted parts.

We spend the whole afternoon cutting away the dead branches.

cut back

To reduce.

Businesses are cutting back on staff to remain profitable.

cut down

To reduce the quantity.

You ought to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke.

cut in

To interrupt. 

His annoying habit is to cut in whenever a conversation is going on. 

To suddenly drive into the space in front of another car.

The stupid driver suddenly cut in right in front of us.

cut off

To stop someone from continuing talking by interrupt them.

He tried to explain but they cut him off and warned him not to be late again.

cut out

To tell someone to stop doing something.

Can you fellows cut it out? I’m trying to read.

cut up

To cut into pieces.

The murderer cut up the victim’s body into eight pieces.