Let’s learn 10 of the most common phrasal verbs used in English speaking.
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What are the most common phrasal verbs in English?
I am trying not to melt down here because in Poland the weather it’s crazy. And how are you doing? How is your summer going? Or maybe it’s winter where you live? So what’s going on with you?
If you have noticed, I have used a lot of phrasal verbs in my welcoming speech to our today’s episode.
We have already talked about phrasal verbs but they are so popular in conversational English – I want to continue talking about them.
What is a phrasal verb?
If you remember, a phrasal verb – it is a combination of a verb with a preposition forming a new meaning.
For example, the first meaning of the verb to get is ‘to receive’: to get a message, to get an email, to get a package.
But when I add the preposition ‘down’ to get, it means ‘to disappoint’. E.g. You got me down. Don’t get me down.
It is a shorter version of the verb ‘disappoint’ and this is very popular in English.
If you want to speak English fluently and understand the native speakers, you need to know phrasal verbs.
My list of 10 most common phrasal verbs in English speaking
1. TO FIGURE OUT
‘Figure out’ means ‘to understand’.
- I can’t figure out what to do.
- Give me a minute to figure it out.
- I couldn’t figure out what the teacher was talking about.
2. TO WORK SOMETHING OUT
We can say ‘to work out something’ or we can say ‘to work something out’ which means ‘to find a solution’.
- Don’t worry about this problem – we will work something out (=We will find some solution).
- I can’t work out what to do.
- An international peace plan has been worked out.
3. TO POINT OUT
It means ‘to show you’.
- I’d like to point out the main things you need to remember.
- He pointed out the best beaches on the map.
- In my next video, I will be pointing out the main mistakes non-native English speakers make in emails.
4. TO BRING UP
This verb means ‘to start talking about some topic’.
- Well, she just got divorced. Don’t bring up her husband in the conversation. (= don’t mention him, don’t talk about him).
- Why did you bring it up? = Why did you start speaking about that?
- Don’t bring up politics in our conversation.
If you don’t know this phrasal verb, it will be quite a long phrase. In speaking, we try to express a complex idea in a very short phrase.
5. TO GO ON / TO CARRY ON
Now, we have two similar verbs meaning ‘to continue’.
You can say either to go on or to carry on + the Ving form of the verb.
- Let’s carry on talking about phrasal verbs.
- Carry on. You’re doing fine.
- Carry on teaching us, don’t stop!
6. TO COME ACROSS
This next one is very unpopular with the non-native speakers but native speakers of English use it very much.
To come across means ‘to find something by chance’.
- Did you come across any interesting books lately? = ‘Did you find any interesting books?’
- I came across a word I’d never seen before.
- Well, who knows what we will come across? = ‘Who knows what we will find?’
7. TO MAKE UP
There are so many combinations with make in English – it’s often confusing for English learners.
What can make up mean? It can mean three things (even more, but let’s stick here for now).
Its first meaning is ‘to create’ (to make up a story).
- Let’s make up some topic for our party
- Stop making up excuses.
- It’s not true. I just made it up.
It can also be a noun meaning ‘the cosmetics’. It is what I am trying to wear on my face in this weather! You can say ‘to put on make-up’, ‘to wear make-up’, ‘to remove make-up’ etc.
- I am wearing makeup at this moment.
And another meaning of ‘to make up’. I’ve already talked about it in one of my videos.
To make up means ‘to become friends again after the fight’.
When you have a fight, it is to fall out. But when you stop having troubles in relationships, it’s to make up.
- We fell out a week ago, but we have already made up. = ‘we are friends again’.
- They argue a lot, but they always kiss and make up.
8. TO MAKE OUT
One of the meanings of this extra-popular phrasal verb is ‘to understand from listening’ or ‘to see in the dark’, to be able to understand and see.
- What did you say? I couldn’t make it out.
- She can’t make out what he is saying.
- I am not sure it was him. It was difficult to make him out.
There is no word for it in English, you can only express this idea with the help of this phrasal verb.
9. TO FILL IN / TO FILL OUT
There are two different versions of the phrasal verb meaning ‘to complete’.
In British English, we will say to fill in.
- Please fill in this form.
- Can you fill in this form?
In American English, we will say to fill out:
- Can you fill out this form?
- I need to go and fill out my visa application.
10. TO GIVE UP
And the last but not the least. It’s one of the most used phrasal verbs in English.
To give up means ‘to stop’ but it’s more emotional. You give up when you stop trying.
- I’ve given up learning German.
- Don’t give up trying to make money online. One day it will work!
- I didn’t know you gave up yoga.
So please don’t give up learning English!
I hope you know all these phrasal verbs now.
Try to recognise them in English speaking: in the podcasts, news, stories – anything you read or hear. And try to use them in your own speaking step by step.
I hope you have enjoyed the episode. Thanks for listening!
Learn more phrasal verbs
Episode 24 Phrasal Verbs about Travel
Episode 31 Phrasal Verbs about Learning
Episode 36 Phrasal Verbs about Using the Phone
Free Guide ’55 Common Phrasal Verbs’
Download our free e-book teaching you the most widely used phrasal verbs in English speaking.
Thanks for this lovely, Short and sweet lesson!