If you’re learning English, phrasal verbs may seem intimidating at first—but they become quite simple and useful when you learn to use them appropriately. A phrasal verb is just what it seems: a phrase consisting of a verb and one or more other sentence components, such as a preposition or an adverb.
What makes phrasal verbs tricky is that they are inherently idiomatic and cannot be easily understood by the individual words that make up the phrase. When you encounter phrasal verbs at work or out in the world, they can be difficult to contextualize. The best way to get comfortable with the many different phrasal verbs used in American English is to simply dive into—investigate—some of the most common ones.
30 Common Phrasal Verbs
1 To call around
To contact multiple people.
Example: Roy called around to find a nearby mechanic.
2 To call [x] off
Example: We called the party off. or We called off the party.
3 To check [x] out
To verify a person or thing. When regarding a person, this phrase can also be flirtatious.
Example: I’ll check the contract out. or I’ll check out the contract.
4 To clean [x] up
To clean a general area.
Example: John cleaned the living room up. or John cleaned up the living room.
5 To dive into
To occupy oneself with something.
Example: I’ll dive into that new TV show later tonight.
6 To dress up
To wear nice clothes.
Example: Abed dressed up for the presentation.
7 To end up
To eventually become a certain way, or find oneself in a situation.
Example: He ended up taking the job.
8 To fill [x] up
To fill something completely.
Example: Bruce filled his wine glass up. or Bruce filled up his wine glass.
9 To find out
Example: Let me know when you find out the answer.
10 To get [x] back
To have something returned.
Example: Rodger got his pencil back from Lenny. or Rodger got back his pencil from Lenny.
11 To get away with
To escape punishment or some other unpleasantness.
Example: Shirley got away with cheating on the test.
12 To get along
To be friendly with one another.
Example: Franny gets along with Kristin.
13 To give [x] away
To donate something or to give it up for free.
Example: Mindy gave her prized doll collection away. or Mindy gave away her prized doll collection.
14 To give up
To accept defeat.
Example: Carin felt like giving up.
15 To give [x] up
To cease consuming or doing something, often a habit.
Example: Merlin gave chocolate up or Merlin gave up chocolate.
16 To go over
Example: Marie went over the writing assignment.
17 To leave [x] out
Example: Rosie left the graph out of the presentation. or Rosie left out the graph from the presentation.
18 To let [x] down
To disappoint somebody.
Example:Sally let Mark down when she showed up late.
19 To look after
To take care of someone or something.
Example: Thank you for looking after me when I was sick.
20 To pull [x] up
To bring up bring something nearer.
Example: Eugene pulled the document up on his computer. or Eugene pulled up the document on his computer.
21 To put [x] on
To add something to your person or an object.
Example: I always put my backpack on before leaving the house. or I always put on my backpack before leaving the house.
22 To put up with
To tolerate or condone.
Example: Jeff put up with Janice’s cynical attitude.
23 To run out of
To drain the supply of something.
Example: Maria ran out of paper towels and had to go to the store.
24 To see to
To make sure something is done.
Example: I’ll see to watering the plants.
25 To take after
To resemble, usually used to describe parents and their children.
Example: Li takes after his father.
26 To take [x] out
To move something outside.
Example: Please take the garbage out before you leave. or Please take out the garbage before you leave.
27 To think [x] over
To consider something.
Example: Yosef thought Rosie’s situation over. or Yosef thought over Rosie’s situation.
28 To throw [x] away
To dispose of something.
Example: Could you throw that burrito away? or Could you throw away that burrito?
29 To top off
To fill something to the top.
Example: May I top off your beverage?
30 To wait on
Example: Billie waited on the table of customers.