List 14 - Phrasal Verbs




Phrasal Verb


Example Sentence

hand around/round

To pass something to all the people present in a group.

Could one of you hand these drinks around, please?

hand back

To return something to the same person who gave it out.

The officer handed back the form to me for filling it wrongly.

hand down

To pass on from older to younger generation.

These fairy stories and legends have been handed down from generation to generation.

To pass something on to a younger member of the family.

Her pearl necklace was handed down from her grandmother.

To publicly announce a judgment.

The sentence handed down by the judge was too lenient.

hand in

To give something to a person who is in a position of authority.

The students handed in their homework without being told to.

hand out

To distribute.

The volunteers helped to hand out parcels of food to victims of the disaster.

hand over

To give up. 

The captives were ordered to hand over their weapons. 

To pass control of someone to someone else 

Members of the crowd caught the pickpocket and handed him over to the police. 

To pass responsibility for something to someone else

The receptionist handed my call over to the person in charge.

hang around

To idle. 

She spends her time hanging around with friends in the park. 

To spend with someone

He hanged around with the wrong people and ended up in prison.

hang back

To be reluctant to do something because of lack of confidence or shyness.

He is often advised not to hang back but to mix freely at school.

hang on

To wait. 

She asked me to hang on while she made a telephone call. 

To hold tightly to something.

The standing passengers hung on tight as the bus went along a narrow, bumpy road. 

To continue in spite of difficulty.

We were exhausted but we realized we had to hang on a bit longer as we were nearing the summit. 

To depend on.

He believes the success of his public speaking hangs on his ability to speak effectively and clearly. 

To pay particular attention to

The cult members hang on every word spoken by their leader as they have great faith in him.

hang on to

To keep something.

Grandpa hangs on to his collection of stamps with the belief that they become more and more valuable as time passes.

hang out

To spend a lot of time with someone at some place.

After school, he hangs out with his classmates in a snooker hall.

hang over

To mull the possibility of something happening.

The thought of her husband’s unfaithfulness never ceases to hang over her.

hang together

To stick or stay together.

They hung together while waiting for the rescue team to find them.

hang up

To abruptly end a telephone conversation. 

She was so angry she hung up before I could explain. 

To replace the telephone receiver

Finally, she hung up after speaking for more than an hour.

happen along

To be, come, or go to a place by chance.

We invited our former lecturer to join us for a drink when he happened along.

happen by

To find a place by chance.

We would have remained lost if we hadn’t happened by a souvenir shop selling street maps.

happen on/upon

To find by chance.

He happened upon the key to his car just as he was about to give up his search.

To come upon.

We were walking and chatting when we happened on a fat wallet on the pavement.

happen to

To have or seem to have disappeared

Whatever happened to those ducks that used to waddle along the river bank?

hold against

To dislike someone for their past wrong or mistake.

It was not totally his fault, so I can’t hold it against him alone.

hold back

To have control over something.

She struggled to hold back her tears.

To block one’s advancement.

He felt his lack of qualifications would hold him back from his well-deserved promotion.

To retain in one’s possession.

The police subjected him to further interrogation as they believed he was holding back some information.

hold down

To keep a job.

Mick seems unable to hold down a job for longer than a month.

To restrain someone.

He wanted to beat up the other guy, and it took the two of us to hold him down.

hold forth

To talk at great length.

For more than an hour, the speaker held forth on the inevitable end of the world.

hold off

To delay doing something.

He always holds off making decisions until the very last moment. 

To have not happened at once 

It was unexpected that, despite the looming dark clouds, the rain held off until after we arrived home. 

To avoid being attacked

They held the invading armies off until reinforcements arrived.

hold on

To wait for a short while.

He asked me to hold on and he will be out in a minute. 

To maintain a firm hold of something

In the tug of war, the participants held on tightly to the rope and pulled it with all their might.

hold on to

To grip firmly to something.

We held tightly on to the rail as the bus sped on. 

To retain possession of

She held on to the national title for the second year running.

hold out

To offer. 

The supermarket held out the chance for customers to win a brand new car. 

To defend or continue to resist.

They could not hold out the fort as reinforcements arrived late. 

To last.

Will the food hold out through the winter? 

To offer the prospect for the future

The financial leaders are not holding out any hope of a quick recovery in the national economy.

hold out for

To accept something less.

The other party is not holding out for a compromise, but instead insisted they are the legal owners of the land. 

To desist from providing information

Why do you hold out on me all the things I need to know?

hold over

To postpone.

The match was held over because of the snowy conditions.

To extend the duration of the showing of a film

The film was unexpectedly held over for a couple of months.

hold to

To manage to achieve a draw and nothing more against an opponent.

The home team held the away team to a 2-2 draw. 

To remain faithful

She held to her religious beliefs despite marrying someone from another religion.

hold together

To remain united or mutually loyal.

The different factions within the party are held together by a charismatic leader.

hold up

To delay.

We arrived late as we were held up by traffic jam. 

To rob someone using the threat of violence

The gang held up a money changer at gunpoint before fleeing with huge amounts of different currencies.

hold up as

To use as a model.

The Governor was held up as a model of integrity and decency.







Phrasal Verb


Example Sentence

identify with

To consider oneself as equivalent to someone else.

He identified very much with the main character in the film.

improve on

To produce something better than.

The second edition greatly improves on the first one.

inform against

To disclose incriminating information to an authority.

A member informs against the other members of the armed gang.

inform on

To reveal incriminating information about someone.

He was summarily arrested when his comrades informed on him.

infringe on

To encroach on someone or something.

Discussing a politician’s divorce is tantamount to infringing on his personal life.

inquire after

To ask about the state of health of someone.

Amy is deeply concerned about you; she’s always inquiring after your health and well-being.

inquire into

To investigate or gather information.

The police are inquiring into his relationship with the terrorist group.  

inquire of

To ask for information.

The reporters inquired of the party leader when he would resign for his part in the bribery scandal.

interfere with

To prevent something from working effectively.

Lack of confidence has seriously interfered with his performance at school.

To sexually molest.

A teacher was arrested for interfering with his young charges.

invest in

To spend for future benefit.

The company invests heavily in research and development.

To acquire something useful.

Their old leaking house makes them feel the need to invest in a new one.

invest with

To provide with power or authority.

The party constitution invested the party leader with the power to approve candidates for election. 

To endow someone or something with a particular quality or characteristic.

He was invested with great charisma which few leaders in his country have had.

issue forth

To flow or come out from something.

The relatives could hear the groans issuing forth from the dying patient. 

To come out

From a long distance, we could see smoke issuing from a lone cottage chimney.


To raise.

The storekeepers wouldn’t dare jack up prices because of a new supermarket nearby. 

 jack up

To increase.

This is the third time in two years the landlord has jacked up the rents. 


To use a jack to lift a heavy object off the ground

We had to jack up the car to replace its punctured tyre/tire.

join in

To become a member of a group involved in an activity.

They were clearing the beach and we joined in.

join up

To become a member of one of the armed forces.

The three sisters thought the army was the right choice for them, and they joined up.

To unite with other people to do something.

We joined up with a vigilante group to patrol the neighbourhood.

join with

To come or bring together for a common purpose; to unite.

They are asking anyone to join with them in their campaign for racial equality.

jot down

To write something hastily.

I jotted her telephone number down on my palm.

jump at

To accept eagerly.

He jumped at the chance to join the trip to the Niagara Falls. 

To act quickly as a reaction to something.

She jumped at the bargain on offer. 

To make a verbal attack.

The supervisor jumped at me for making the same mistake again.

jump in

To interrupt someone.

That was not the first time he jumped in when I was still talking.

jump on

To express disapproval of.

Her mother never failed to jump on her whenever she was home late.

jump out at

To appear highly noticeable.

We felt the luminous billboard really jumped out at us especially when we pass by it in the dark.

keep at

To persist.

We kept at it until we completed it ahead of schedule. 


To force someone to persist

To complete the work on time, the employer kept the foreign workers at it until late at night.

keep away

To avoid going to a place.

You should keep away from that fast-flowing river. 

To prevent someone from seeing someone else

The villagers kept their children away from outsiders who happened to be there.

keep back

To not tell everything.

I think she is keeping something back that she does not want us to know. 

To not use all.

We can’t use all our savings to buy the car; we have to keep some back for emergency use.

keep down

To stop oneself from vomiting.

Last night, I overate and couldn’t keep my food down. 

To prevent something from growing.

Something has to be done to keep global population down. 

To bring under control.

We are now in a library; please keep your voice down.

keep from

To not tell about something.

He has only two months to live, so should we keep him from knowing? 

To stop oneself from doing something

Some spectators couldn’t keep from booing loudly at the referee for not giving a free kick.

keep in with

To maintain friendly contact with someone that could prove beneficial in the future.

He is keeping in with his former business mentor who he believes could one day help in steering his new business to success.

keep off

To not touch something.

Keep your hands off my pizza. 

To refrain from doing or eating something that is harmful to one’s health.

His doctor advised him to keep off excessive smoking in order to stay healthy. 

To stay away from a particular area.

Why is he walking on the grass when the notice in front of him says ‘keep off the grass’?

keep on

To carry on doing or saying the same thing.

She keeps harping on the one little mistake I made. 

To retain the employment of an employee.

I was informed that they might not keep me on in the new year as the company will be downsizing.

keep out

To stop someone or something from being in a place.

She should keep the baby monkey out instead of sleeping with it. 

To tell people to stay away

At the construction site, there’s a big sign that read ‘keep out’.

keep out of

To not get involved.

It’s not our business, so we had better keep out of it.

keep to

To stick to a subject.

Why do you beat about the bush? Keep to what you want to say. 

To maintain a secret.

Keep what I just told you to yourself, or I will never tell you anything again. 

To stay in a particular area, etc. 

Keep to this street for the time being, or we will get lost again. 

To adhere to.

If we keep to our plan, nothing will go wrong. 

To not talk to or mix with other people

If you keep to yourself all the time, you won’t know anybody or have any friend.

keep up

To keep someone awake.

The furious barking of the neighbour’s dog kept me up the whole night. 

To continue to pay off.

It’s really tough to keep up the monthly payments for the house.   

To continue doing something.

The boss likes to tell me to keep up the good work, but I have not got an increment for two years.

To prevent a high level from falling

The factory is maintaining double shifts to keep up the volume of production.

keep up with

To be equal with someone else’s success or lifestyle.

She’s always trying to keep up with her siblings. 

To be as good as someone else.

He knows he has to work very hard to keep up with the rest of the class. 

To keep abreast of

We only watch the news on television to keep up with what’s goes on in the outside world.

knock around/about

To treat with violence.

This big bully would knock the smaller kids about. 

To travel through different places.

I too would like to knock around the different countries on the Continent. 

To discuss or think carefully about something.

We have been meeting to knock around the idea of starting our own business. 

To be lying somewhere that is not exactly known.

After we bought a new lock, we found the one we were looking for knocking about in the storeroom.

knock back

To swallow a drink quickly.

He knocked back his drink in one go and ordered another one.

To cost a lot.

 We are getting a second-hand car; a new one will knock us back a large sum of money.

knock down

To hit with a vehicle.

The speeding car knocked down a villager’s goat. 

To demolish.

The old building was knocked down to make way for a block of apartments 

To reduce price.

She bought a new dress which was knocked down to nearly half of its original price.

knock off

To stop working or doing something.

My dad can’t knock off work at the same time every day. 

To reduce price by an amount.

The seller knocked off thirty dollars because of a slight dent. 

To steal or imitate.

He knocked off someone else’s invention and claimed it as his own.

knock out

To defeat an opponent in sports.

The underdog knocked out his opponent in the last round. 

To become unconscious.

The tourist was knocked out by a coconut that dropped on his head. 

To cause something to be not working.

The storm knocked out the power lines.

knock over

To be hit by a vehicle.

His dog got knocked over by a car as it ran across the street.

knock together

To assemble.

He knocked together a birdhouse with whatever he could find in the storeroom.

knock up

To wake someone up by knocking at the door.

He doesn’t own an alarm clock, but depends on the landlady to knock him up in the morning.