Essential Phrasal Verbs You Should Know

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Phrasal verbs are a fundamental part of the English language, and understanding them can greatly enhance your fluency and communication skills. These combinations of verbs and particles create idiomatic expressions with meanings that may not be immediately apparent from the individual words.

Here are some commonly used phrasal verbs that are worth adding to your vocabulary:

1. Opt for – choose:
When faced with options, “opt for” indicates selecting or deciding on a particular choice. For example, “She opted for the vegetarian dish at the restaurant.”

2. Patch up – return:
To “patch up” means to repair or restore something that was damaged or broken. It can also refer to reconciling or resolving a conflict between individuals. For instance, “They managed to patch up their friendship after the disagreement.”

3. Plump up – fix / make things better:
This phrasal verb means to make something fuller or thicker. It can be used literally, as in “She plumped up the cushions on the sofa,” or figuratively, as in “He plumped up the proposal to make it more appealing.”

4. Polish off – finish / consume:
To “polish off” something means to complete or finish it, often with great speed or efficiency. It can also refer to consuming food or drink completely. For example, “He polished off the project ahead of schedule” or “She polished off the entire pizza by herself.”

5. Decide upon – choose / select:
“Decide upon” means to make a choice or reach a decision. It is often used to emphasize the process of careful consideration before settling on an option. For instance, “They decided upon a destination for their vacation after much research.”

6. Die down – decrease:
When something “dies down,” it means that it gradually diminishes or becomes less intense. This can refer to the decrease in volume, activity, or intensity of a particular situation. For example, “The noise from the construction site finally died down in the evening.”

7. Get along – leave:
Although “get along” typically means to have a friendly or amicable relationship with someone, it can also be used to describe leaving or departing from a place. For instance, “I need to get along now; I have an appointment.”

8. Hook up – meet (someone):
While “hook up” can refer to a casual sexual encounter, it can also mean to meet or get together with someone in a non-romantic context. For example, “Let’s hook up for lunch tomorrow.”

9. Jack up – increase sharply:
To “jack up” something means to raise or increase it dramatically, often in terms of price or value. It can also refer to boosting or elevating something. For instance, “The company jacked up the prices of their products.”

10. Kick about – dismiss:
When you “kick about” an idea or suggestion, you are considering or discussing it in a casual or informal manner. It can also mean to dismiss or disregard something. For example, “They kicked about a few options before making a decision.”

11. Talk about – dismiss:
“To talk about” something can mean to discuss or consider it, but it can also be used to dismiss or reject a subject or idea. For instance, “Let’s not talk about the matter anymore; it’s too sensitive.”

12. Kick out – expel:
When someone is “kicked out,” it means they are expelled or removed from a place or group. It can refer to being dismissed or forced to leave. For example, “He was kicked out of the club for breaking the rules.”

13. Lay on – organize / support:
“Lay on” can mean to organize or provide something, especially in terms of arranging an event or activity. It can also denote offering support or assistance. For instance, “The company laid on transportation for the conference attendees.”

14. Link up – connect / join:
To “link up” means to connect or join something together. It can refer to physical connections, as well as establishing relationships or alliances. For example, “They linked up the computers to create a network.”

15. Make after – chase:
When you “make after” someone or something, you are pursuing or chasing them. It implies a determined effort to catch up with or reach a target. For instance, “The dog made after the squirrel in the park.”

16. Make away with – steal:
“To make away with” means to steal or take something, especially in a secretive or unauthorized manner. It implies removing or carrying off an item illicitly. For example, “The burglars made away with valuable jewelry.”

17. Big up – exaggerate the importance:
When you “big up” something or someone, you are exaggerating or emphasizing their importance or significance. It can also refer to promoting or praising someone or something. For instance, “He always tries to big up his achievements.”

18. Book in – check in at a hotel:
To “book in” means to check in or register at a hotel or other accommodation. It implies securing a reservation or confirming one’s arrival. For example, “We booked in at the hotel and went straight to our room.”

19. Blow up – explode:
When something “blows up,” it means it explodes or bursts suddenly, often resulting in damage or destruction. It can also describe a situation becoming significantly worse or more intense. For instance, “The bomb blew up, causing widespread panic.”

20. Call up – telephone:
To “call up” means to make a phone call or contact someone by telephone. It can refer to initiating communication. For example, “I will call up the office to inquire about the job vacancy.”

21. Cap off – finish / complete:
When you “cap off” something, you are concluding or completing it, often in a memorable or significant way. It can also mean to finish with a particular action or event. For instance, “They capped off the celebration with a fireworks display.”

22. Care for – like:
While “care for” can mean to look after or provide assistance, it can also express one’s preference or liking for something. For example, “Would you care for some tea?” or “I don’t care for spicy food.”

23. Carry on – continue:
To “carry on” means to continue or persist with an activity or action. It can also denote behaving in a particular manner. For instance, “Please carry on with your presentation.”

24. Carry off – win / succeed:
When someone “carries off” a task or competition, it means they successfully achieve or accomplish it. It can also refer to winning or triumphing in a situation. For example, “He carried off the award for Best Actor.”

25. Add on – include:
“To add on” means to include or append something to an existing entity. It can refer to additional items or information being included. For instance, “They added on extra features to the product.”

These phrasal verbs provide alternative ways to express actions and concepts, allowing you to diversify your language and communicate more effectively. Incorporating them into your everyday conversations and writing will enrich your English skills and help you better express yourself.

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