Phrasal Verbs – The 20 Most Commonly Used Phrasal Verbs

  Phrasal verbs are one of the most challenging topics for English learners. They can be confusing and hard to remember as there are thousands of them. Although challenging, you can master them in no time as long as you are persistent and practice often. Below, we will dive deep into this topic. We will discover what phrasal verbs are, their classification, and the most commonly used phrasal verbs.

Phrasal Verbs

They are a combination of words (a verb plus one or two other particles) that works as a verb. These extra particles can be a preposition, an adverb or an adjective. They generally change the meaning of the main verb. For example, from the verb put, we can form several phrasal verbs with varied meanings such as: Put off (postpone, delay), Put up with (tolerate), or Put on (increase).


Transitive Phrasal Verbs:

These phrasal verbs require a direct object to take on meaning.

  • She will look after my son tonight.
  • Could you switch on the light?

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs:

They do not require a direct object to make sense, the action falls on the subject.

  • Her grandparents passed away.
  • The husband ran away from the wedding.
  • I got up at 5pm.

Separable Phrasal Verbs:

The particles of this phrasal verb can be separated in a sentence, this does not affect its meaning.

  • Please, turn off the light.
  • Please, turn the light off.
  • I will pick up my aunt from my grandma’s house.
  • I will pick my aunt up from my grandma’s house.


When the direct object is a pronoun, the phrasal verb elements are always separated.

  • I have to give back the book.
  • I have to give it back.

Non – Separable Phrasal Verbs:

Non – Separable Phrasal Verbs are those that cannot be modified, their particles must always remain together.

  • My little daughter is growing up very quickly.
  • The patient passed away.
  • Rachel is trying to give up

Intransitive phrasal verbs cannot be separated.

 The 20 Most Commonly Used Phrasal Verbs.

1. Break down


To stop working

My car broke down in the middle of the road.


2. Bring up

To mention a subject.


He brought up the fight that happened years ago in our conversation.


3. Back down


To withdraw, to retreat, to give up.



We must not back down in our fight for equality.


4. Wake up


To cease sleeping, to become awake.


I usually wake up at 6am.


5. Bump into


To meet someone unexpectedly.

I bumped into my boss in the park.


6. Sit down


To move from a standing to a sitting position.


The teacher told me to sit down.


7. Made up


 Not true, to lie.


My daughter made that up to avoid being punished.


8.      Clean out



Cleaning the inside of something, make something tidy by removing things.

They are cleaning out the living room.



9.  Carry on



To continue.


She has to carry on the family business.

10. Drop out


        To abandon a course of study.


I am thinking about dropping out of school.


11. Drop by


To pay a brief visit.


I will drop by your house tonight.


12. Hang out


To spend time in a place or with someone.  


       I want to hang out with my friends this afternoon.


13. Get out



Leave a place.

Get out of the house! It’s on fire!


14. Put on


Dress up


I think I will put on my red dress for the party.


15. Get over


To recover.


My aunt just got over cancer.


16. Get along.



To have a good relationship.

I get along with my mother in law.


17. Grow up


To gradually become an adult.


Your daughter has grown up so quickly!


18. Give up


To desist from, to stop making an effort.


Our team gave up in the last minute.


19. Hurry up



To speed up, to require haste or urgency.

It’s getting late! We must hurry up.


20. Look back


To remember, to think of the past.


I will look back at this moment when I grow old.


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