English language learners often get intimidated by phrasal verbs, but that’s just in the beginning. Once they start using them, they realize how useful and simple phrasal verbs are.
These phrases are made up of one verb and one or more adverbs, prepositions, or other sentence elements. What makes them tricky is that their meaning can’t be easily understood by the words that make up the phrasal verb.
So, when hearing or reading a phrasal verb, you may have a hard time understanding the whole sentence or what the other person is trying to say. That’s why it’s good if you are familiar with the most common phrasal verbs used in everyday language.
What Are the Most Common Phrasal Verbs?
Here are some of the most commonly used phrasal verbs in the English language. Knowing their meaning will help you understand natives better as well as help you sound like one.
1. Break Down
There are several meanings of this phrase, the most common being a vehicle or machine suddenly stopping to work.
Ex. My van broke down and he helped me to push it off the road.
2. Write Down
To write something down means to write it on a piece of paper or anywhere else to avoid forgetting specific information.
Ex. Can you write down my number?
3. Dive Into
Use this phrasal verb when you want to say that someone is occupied with something.
Ex. We will dive into our favorite game tonight.
4. Dress Up
When someone dresses up, it means they wear nice or special clothes.
Ex. You should dress up for the party.
5. End Up
You can use this phrasal verb in many situations, so knowing its meaning is really useful if you want to sound more like a native speaker. It means to eventually find yourself in a certain state or situation, or to be in a particular place when you didn’t plan it.
Ex. Although he had a lot of friends, he ended up being alone.
Ex. My family moved around a lot in the past, but we ended up in Chicago.
6. Put Off
Use this phrasal verb when you want to postpone the time or date of an arrangement or meeting, or when you just want to delay doing something because you don’t feel like doing it.
Ex. Schools put off excursions due to the Coronavirus.
Ex. He always put his homework off until the last minute.
7. Turn Down
Use this phrasal verb when you want to refuse or reject an invitation or offer.
Ex. He was very sad when she turned down his prom invitation.
8. Look Out
To look out means to be careful or to pay serious attention to whatever you’re doing so that you can avoid something bad from happening. You can use this phrase to warn someone of potential danger.
Ex. The teacher has asked her students to look out for grammar mistakes in their exams.
Ex. Look out! There’s a truck coming!
9. Run Out Of
This phrasal verb is used when you want to say that there’s no more of something. If someone runs out of something, it means they have no more of it left.
Ex. We’ve run out of milk.
Ex. I’ve run out of ideas.
10. Get Up
This common phrasal verb is used when you want to ask someone to stand up from a lying or sitting position, or to get out of bed.
Ex. Do you always get up early?
11. Check Out
You use this phrase when you want to ask someone to verify something or someone.
Ex. I’ve just sent you the document, so can you please check it out?
12. Fill Up
When someone fills something up, it means to fill it completely.
Ex. I’ve just filled up the container with water.
13. Put Up With
If you need to put up with something or someone, it means you have to accept it/them without complaining, no matter how unpleasant or annoying it is for you.
Ex. She is very annoying, but she’s my sister so I have to put up with her.
14. Get Away With
This phrasal verb means escaping some kind of punishment or bad consequence despite doing something risky or wrong.
Ex. She always cheats on her exams. I don’t know how she gets away with it.
15. Get Along
This phrasal verb means having a friendly relationship with someone, or being friendly with each other.
Ex. Kevin gets along with Mark.
Ex. I never really got along with Kristen.
16. Look For
The meaning of this common phrasal verb is seeking or searching for someone or something.
Ex. They are looking for a solution.
Ex. She was looking for her bag for hours.
17. Look Up
This phrasal verb means to search for someone or something such as a piece of information.
Ex. I don’t understand this word. Let me look it up in my dictionary.
18. Go Over
If you need to check or examine something carefully, you need to go over it.
Ex. Go over your exam before handing it to the teacher.
19. Let Down
When someone has disappointed you in some way, they have let you down.
Ex. I will wait for you to come tomorrow. Don’t let me down.
20. Put On
There are several meanings of this phrasal verb, but the most common ones are to start wearing something, or to pretend to have a specific way of behaving or speaking, or a specific feeling.
Ex. He put on his jacket and went out.
Ex. Stop putting on that weird accent.
Phrasal verbs are an important part of the English language, so knowing at least the most common ones will help you improve your English.