Admit it, you’ve been putting off learning phrasal verbs, haven’t you?


There are just so many phrasal verbs in English. And they don’t seem to make any logical sense. The difference between to put something off and to put something out or to turn something on and to turn something up just seems to be a massive unnecessary headache.


Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. Unfortunately, you do need phrasal verbs and you’re going to have to spend some time learning them. However, the good news is that there’s an easier method than the one you’ve probably been using so far. But first of all, what is a phrasal verb?


Phrasal verbs are combinations of words (usually a verb and another element, such as an adverb or a preposition) that form an idiomatic expression, meaning they have a specific, culturally understood definition. Native speakers use phrasal verbs all the time, so knowing the most common forms will do wonders for your English comprehension. Phrasal verbs act as a kind of “shortcut,” allowing speakers to express complicated ideas in just a couple of words, rather than having to explain using long strings of words. They’re also much less formal, meaning they’re crucial in casual spoken English. A formal fire safety notice may instruct you to extinguish the fire, but your friend or colleague will most definitely tell you to put it out.


So, how are we going to add these vital phrases to our arsenal of language tricks? Well, by using the simple technique of “grouping.” Our brains find it difficult enough to remember new language without making it harder by learning it in a haphazard way. By focusing on just a few groups at a time, we can memorise and recall much more information from each study session. What this means in practice is that we should concentrate on just a few phrasal verbs that contain similar elements (such as the main verb) so we can easily distinguish the differences between them.


Therefore, this article is going to focus on five verbs with very common phrasal forms: makeputgoget and turn. By taking the time to learn these forms, you’ll know a grand total of twenty-five phrasal verbs by the end of this article. So, let’s get started with our first verb.


Phrasal verbs with make


Make something up: to invent a story, to lie.




  • We all believed him when he said he’d been abducted by aliens, but apparently he made the whole thing up!


Make up with somebody: to forgive one another and return to a friendlier state.




  • I’m glad to hear you and Steve have made up. There’ll be a much happier atmosphere in the office from now on!


Make off with something: to escape with the proceeds of a crime.




  • Bank robbers have made off with over one million pounds after an audacious daylight raid.


Make up for something: to compensate for something bad with something good.




  • I’m taking Jean on holiday to Paris to make up for forgetting her birthday.


Make something of someone/something: to have an opinion of someone/something (only used in the question form).




  • What did you make of that film last night? I thought it was pretty strange, to be honest.



Phrasal verbs with put


Put something down: to place something you are holding onto the floor or another surface.




  • I can’t find my glasses. I’m sure I just put them down on this table a minute ago.


Put something off: to postpone doing something because of laziness or lack of enthusiasm.




  • I’ve been putting off calling him all morning because I know he’s not going to be happy!


Put something on: to dress yourself in clothes or shoes.




  • You should put that new scarf on. It’ll really look good with the coat.


Put something out: to extinguish a flame or a fire.




  • Put that cigarette out! You can’t smoke in here!


Put up with something: to tolerate something unpleasant.




  • I’m afraid the air conditioner is broken, but you’ll just have to put up with it until I can get it fixed.


Phrasal verbs with go


Go without something: to manage without something useful or needed.




  • I don’t mind going without air conditioning for a few days, but you really need to get the plumbing fixed in the bathroom.


Go over something: to feel better after an unpleasant event or an illness.




  • It took me a while to get over the break up. Even now, I still think of him sometimes.


Go out: Leave home to attend a social event.




  • We used to go out to bars and restaurants all the time, but it all changes when you have children.


Go out with somebody: to be dating or in a relationship with somebody.




  • Are you going out with anyone at the moment? I’d love to take you for a meal sometime.


Go after something: to try to achieve something.




  • You should go after that promotion if you really want it.


Phrasal verbs with get


Get on/along with somebody: to have a positive, friendly relationship with someone.




  • I don’t really get on with my sister. We always end up arguing at family gatherings.


Get something across: to communicate an idea so that it is understood.




  • I tried using the phrasebook, but I just couldn’t get the idea across that I didn’t eat any meat.


Get away: to take a holiday or vacation.




  • We’re thinking of getting away for the weekend, actually. Just down to the coast for a couple of days.


Get away with something: to escape punishment or the consequences of your negative actions.




  • They just seem to have completely gotten away with causing the financial crisis.


Get round to something: to find time to accomplish a task.




  • I meant to email him to say thank you, but I havent got round to it yet.


Phrasal verbs with turn


Turn something down: to lower the volume or level of something.




  • Can you turn that TV down! I can’t hear myself think!


Turn something down: to refuse something offered.




  • Apparently, he turned down the promotion because he wasn’t happy with the pay raise.


Turn something on: to switch on a device such as a television or radio.




  • turned on the news and saw what was happening. It was unbelievable!


Turn something off: to switch off a device such as a television or radio.




  • Actually, I’d prefer it if you turned that radio off completely. I need to concentrate.


Turn something up: to raise the volume or level of something.




  • I thought this was supposed to be a party? Turn that music up and open another bottle of wine!




Now that we’ve looked at our target phrasal verbs, we can begin practicing them. Write sentences using them in context to help yourself remember their meanings.


For example:


  • The restaurant offered to give us a bottle of wine to make up for the horrible food, but I turned them down because I don’t drink.


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