After the completion of this post/article, you would be able to explain the kinds of phrases and their uses. use common phrases.


Lesson 1: Noun and Verb Phrase

Lesson 2: Adjective and Adverbial Phrase

Lesson 3: Prepositional Phrase

Lesson 4: Gerund, Participles and Infinitive Phrase

Lesson 5: Common Phrasal Expressions

Answer Key

Lesson 1 : Noun and Verb Phrase

The Noun Phrase

A noun phrase includes a noun—a person, place, or thing—and the modifiers which distinguish it.


You can find the noun ‘dog’ in a sentence, but you don't know which dog the writer means until you consider the entire noun phrase:

that dog, Aunt Audrey's dog, the dog on the sofa, the neighbor's dog that chases our cat, the dog digging in the new flower bed.


Modifiers can come before or after the noun. Ones that come before might include articles, possessive nouns, possessive pronouns, adjectives, and/or participles.

With articles:

a dog, the dog

Possessive nouns:

Aunt Audrey's dog, the neighbor's dog, the police officer's dog

Possessive pronouns:

our dog, her dog, their dog

With adjectives:

that dog, the big dog, the spotted dog

With participles:

the drooling dog, the barking dog, the well trained dog


Modifiers that come after the noun might include prepositional phrases, adjective clauses, participle phrases, and/or infinitives.

With prepositional phrases:

a dog on the loose, the dog in the front seat, the dog behind the fence

With adjective clauses:

the dog that chases cats, the dog that looks lost, the dog that won the championship

With participle phrases:

the dog whining for a treat, the dog clipped at the grooming salon, the dog walked daily

With infinitives:

the dog to catch, the dog to train, the dog to adopt


Less frequently, a noun phrase will have a pronoun as its base—a word like we, everybody, etc.—and the modifiers which distinguish it.


We who were green with envy

We = subject pronoun; who were green with envy = modifier.

Someone intelligent

Someone = indefinite pronoun; intelligent = modifier.

No one important

No one = indefinite pronoun; important = modifier.

Noun Clauses

The Verb Phrase

Every sentence must have a verb. To depict doable activities, writers use action verbs. To describe conditions, writers choose linking verbs.


  1. Offering her license and registration, Selina sobbed in the driver's seat.

  1. Officer Carson was unmoved.

A main or base verb indicates the type of action or condition, and auxiliary—or helping—verbs convey the other nuances that writers want to express.


The tires screeched as Selena mashed the accelerator.

Selina is always disobeying the speed limit.

Selina should have been driving with more care, for then she would not have gotten her third ticket this year.


In the first sentence, screeched and mashed, single-word verbs, describe the quick actions of both the tires and Selina.

Since Selina has an inclination to speed, is disobeying [a two-word verb] communicates the frequency of her law breaking. The auxiliary verbs that comprise should have been driving [a four-word verb] and would have gotten [a three-word verb] express not only time relationships but also evaluation of Selina's actions.

Realize that an adverb is not part of the verb phrase.

Since a verb phrase might use up to four words, a short adverb—such as also, never, or not— might try to sneak in between the parts. When you find an adverb snuggled in a verb phrase, it is still an adverb, not part of the verb.


For her birthday, Selina would also like a radar detector.

Would like = verb; also = adverb.

To avoid another speeding ticket, Selina will never again take her eyes off the road to fiddle with the radio.

Will take = verb; never, again = adverbs.

Despite the stern warning from Officer Carson, Selena has not lightened her foot on the accelerator.

Has lightened = verb; not = adverb.

Exercise A

Identify the noun phrases:

  1. Swimming in the river is dangerous.

  1. I paid the taxi fare.

  1. We should take care of our health.

  1. My grandfather is a man of letters.

  1. The guests are sitting in the drawing room.


Exercise B

Identify the verb phrases:

  1. You should go there.

  1. Ruma has done it.

  1. Lily will go to college next year.

  1. Akash is writing a letter.

  1. It has been raining

Answer Key


  1. Swimming in the river

  1. the taxi fare

  1. our health

  1. a man of letters

  1. the drawing room


  1. should go

  1. has done

  1. will go

  1. is writing

  1. has been raining

Lesson 2 : Adjective and Adverbial Phrase

Adjective Phrases

An adjective phrase is a group of words that does the work of an adjective.


The mayor was a wealthy man.

The mayor was a man of great wealth.

In sentence 1, the adjective ‘wealthy’ says what sort of man the mayor was.

In sentence 2, the group of words ‘of great wealth’ also says the same thing. It qualifies the noun man as an adjective does. It therefore does the work of an adjective and is called an adjective phrase.

More Examples:

The magistrate was a kind man. (Here the adjective kind modifies the noun man.)

The magistrate was a man with a kind heart. (Here the adjective phrase ‘with a kind heart’ modifies the noun man.)

They lived in a stone house.

They lived in a house built of stone.

The workers belonged to a hill tribe.

The workers belonged to a tribe dwelling in the hills.

A golden necklace – a necklace made of gold

A white coat – a coat of white color

A jungle track – a track through the jungle

A deserted city – a city with no inhabitants

The Bangladeshi flag – the flag of Bangladesh

A wooden hut – a hut built of wood

A blank page – a page with no writing on it

Adverb Phrases

An adverb phrase is a group of words that serves the same purpose as an adverb. Like an adverb, an adverb phrase can also modify an adjective or another adverb.


He spoke politely. (Here the adverb politely says something about the manner in which he spoke.)

He spoke in a polite manner. (Here the adverb phrase ‘in a polite manner’ also says how he spoke.)


Thus, we have seen that an adverb phrase modifies a verb just like an adverb does.

More Examples:

It is available now.

It is available at the moment.

In the pair of sentences given above, the adverb phrase ‘at the moment’ modifies the verb just like the adverb now does.

Bravely (adverb) – in a brave manner (adverb phrase)

Beautifully – in a beautiful manner / way / style

Formerly – in former times / once upon a time

Recently – just now or at a recent date

Soon – before very long

Here – on this spot

Everywhere – in all places

Now – at the moment


Clinton ran quickly.

Clinton ran with great speed.

In the first sentence, the adverb ‘quickly’ gives another detail about the verb ‘ran’.

In the second sentence, the same meaning has been conveyed by using ‘a group of words’ ---

‘with great speed’.

In this same manner, the meaning of an adverb can be conveyed by using different a group of words.

That group of words is called ADVERB-PHRASE.

In the following sentences, the first sentence and the second sentence in a pair convey the same meaning but using adverb in the first sentence and adverb-phrase in the second sentence.

He answered rudely.

He answered in a rude manner.

He does his work carelessly.

He does his work without care.

No such diseases were known then.

No such diseases were known in those days.

The mango fell here.

The mango fell on this spot.

This product is available everywhere.

This product is available in all places.

You can find the pencil there.

You can find the pencil in that place.

He has gone abroad.

He has gone to a foreign nation.

We constructed this house only recently.

We constructed this house only few months back.

Exercise A

Identify the adjective phrases:

  1. Mr. Kamal is man of noble principles.

  1. The woman walking in the field is my grandfather.

  1. The crops damaged by flood were ours.

  1. Jamil is weak in Math.

  1. I am eager to learn English.

Exercise B

Identify the adverbial phrases:

  1. Shishir comes to our house now and then.

  1. Every morning my father reads the Daily Observer.

  1. The car is made in Japan.

  1. Once upon a time there was a king named Midas.

  1. Tareq ran to catch the train.

Answer Key


  1. of noble principles

  1. walking in the field

  1. damaged by flood

  1. weak in Math

  1. eager to learn English


  1. now and then

  1. Every morning

  1. in Japan

  1. Once upon a time

5. to catch the train.

Lesson 3 : Prepositional Phrase

Prepositional Phrase

At the minimum, a prepositional phrase will begin with a preposition and end with a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause, the "object" of the preposition.

The object of the preposition will often have one or more modifiers to describe it. These are the patterns for a prepositional phrase:

Preposition + Noun, Pronoun, Gerund, or Clause

Preposition + Modifier(s) + Noun, Pronoun, Gerund, or Clause


At home

At = preposition; home = noun.

In time

In = preposition; time = noun.

From Richie

From = preposition; Richie = noun.

With me

With = preposition; me = pronoun.

By singing

By = preposition; singing = gerund.

About what we need

About = preposition; what we need = noun clause.

Most prepositional phrases are longer, like these:

From my grandmother

From = preposition; my = modifier; grandmother = noun.

Under the warm blanket

Under = preposition; the, warm = modifiers; blanket = noun.

In the weedy, overgrown garden

In = preposition; the, weedy, overgrown = modifiers; garden = noun.

Along the busy, six-lane highway

Along = preposition; the, busy, six-lane = modifiers; highway = noun.

Without excessively worrying

Without = preposition; excessively = modifier; worrying = gerund.

More Examples:

The book on the bathroom floor is swollen from shower steam.

Which book? The one on the bathroom floor!

The sweet potatoes in the vegetable bin are green with mold.

Which sweet potatoes? The ones forgotten in the vegetable bin!


As an adverb, a prepositional phrase will answer questions such as How? When? or Where? Freddy is stiff from yesterday's long football practice.

How did Freddy get stiff? From yesterday's long football practice!

Exercise A

Identify the prepositional phrases:

  1. Rina forgot in which drawer she put the key.

  1. The poor live from hand to mouth.

  1. Jamil is not fond of eating vegetables.

  1. Go to the doctor without any delay.

  1. Put the book on the table.

Exercise B

Identify the conjunctional phrases:

  1. Do the work as quickly as you can.

  1. Not only Rahim but also his sister went there.

  1. No sooner had they reached the station than the train left.

  1. As far as I can remember you were not present in the meeting.

  1. As soon as I reached class, the bell rang.

Answer Key


  1. in which drawer she put the key

  1. from hand to mouth

  1. of eating vegetables

  1. without any delay

  1. on the table


  1. as quickly

  1. Not only … but also

  1. No sooner had … than

  1. As far as

  1. As soon as

Lesson 4 : Gerund, Participles and Infinitive Phrase

The Gerund Phrase

A gerund phrase will begin with a gerund, an ‘ing’ word, and will include other modifiers and/or objects. Gerund phrases always function as nouns, so they will be subjects, subject complements, or objects in the sentence.

Read these examples:

Eating ice cream on a windy day can be a messy experience if you have long, untamed hair.

Eating ice cream on a windy day = subject of the verb can be.

A more disastrous activity for long-haired people is blowing giant bubble gum bubbles with the car windows down.

Blowing giant bubble gum bubbles with the car windows down = subject complement of the verb is.

Wild food adventures require getting your hair cut to a short, safe length. Getting your hair cut to a short, safe length = direct object of the verb require. Note:

Don't mistake a gerund phrase for a present participle phrase. Gerund and present participle phrases are easy to confuse because they both begin with an ‘ing’ word. The difference is that a gerund phrase will always function as a noun while a present participle phrase describes another word in the sentence.

Check out these examples:

Jamming too much clothing into a washing machine will result in disaster.

Jamming too much clothing into a washing machine = gerund phrase, the subject of the verb will result.

Jamming too much clothing into the washing machine, Aamir saved $1.25 but had to tolerate the curious stares of other laundry patrons as his machine bucked and rumbled with the heavy load.

Jamming too much clothing into the washing machine = present participle phrase describing Aamir.

Babul hates buttering toast with a fork.

Buttering toast with a fork = gerund phrase, the direct object of the verb hates.

Buttering toast with a fork, Bernard vowed that he would finally wash the week's worth of dirty dishes piled in the sink.

Buttering toast with a fork = present participle phrase describing Bernard.

My dog's most annoying habit is hogging the middle of the bed.

Hogging the middle of the bed = gerund phrase, the subject complement of the linking verb is.

Last night I had to sleep on the couch because I found my dog Tiger hogging the middle of the bed.

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Hogging the middle of the bed = present participle phrase describing Tiger.

The Participle Phrase

A participle phrase begins with a present or past participle. If the participle is present, it dependably ends in ‘ing’. Likewise, a regular past participle ends in a consistent ‘ed’.

Since all phrases require two or more words, a participle phrase often includes objects and/or modifiers that complete the thought.

Here are some examples:

Crunching caramel corn for the entire movie

Washed with soap and water

Stuck in the back of the closet behind the obsolete computer

Participle phrases always function as adjectives, adding description to the sentence.

Read these examples:

The horse trotting up to the fence hopes that you have an apple or carrot.

Trotting up to the fence modifies the noun horse.

The water drained slowly in the pipe clogged with dog hair.

Clogged with dog hair modifies the noun pipe.

Eaten by mosquitoes, we wished that we had made hotel, not campsite, reservations.

Eaten by mosquitoes modifies the pronoun ‘we’.

Compare Gerund Phrase and Participle Phrase:

Walking on the beach, Roy dodged jellyfish that had washed ashore.

Walking on the beach = present participle phrase describing the noun ‘Roy’.

Walking on the beach is painful if jellyfish have washed ashore.

Walking on the beach = gerund phrase, the subject of the verb is.

Waking to the buzz of the alarm clock, Rahman cursed the arrival of another Monday.

Waking to the buzz of the alarm clock = present participle phrase describing the noun Rahman.

Rahman hates waking to the buzz of the alarm clock.

Waking to the buzz of the alarm clock = gerund phrase, the direct object of the verb hates.

After a long day at school and work, John found her roommate Roy eating the last of the

leftover pizza.

Eating the last of the leftover pizza = present participle phrase describing the noun `Roy’.

Roy's rudest habit is eating the last of the leftover pizza.

Eating the last of the leftover pizza = gerund phrase, the subject complement of the linking verb is.


When a participle phrase introduces a main clause, separate the two sentence components with a comma. The pattern looks like this:

Participle Phrase + , (comma) + Main Clause.

Read this example:

Glazed with barbecue sauce, the rack of ribs lay nestled next to a pile of sweet coleslaw.

When a participle phrase concludes a main clause and is describing the word right in front of it, you need no punctuation to connect the two sentence parts. The pattern looks like this:

Main Clause + Ø (no punctuation) + Participle Phrase.

Check out this example:

Mariah risked petting the pit bull wagging its stub tail

But when a participle phrase concludes a main clause and modifies a word farther up in the sentence, you will need a comma. The pattern looks like this:

Main Clause + , + Participle Phrase.

Check out this example:

Cooper enjoyed dinner at Audrey's house, agreeing to a large slice of cherry pie even though he was full to the point of bursting.


Participle phrases are the most common modifier to misplace or dangle. In clear, logical sentences, you will find modifiers right next to the words they describe.

Shouting with happiness, William celebrated his chance to interview at SunTrust.

Notice that the participle phrase sits right in front of William, the one doing the shouting. If too much distance separates a modifier and its target, the modifier is misplaced. For example: “Draped neatly on a hanger, William borrowed Grandpa's old suit to wear to the interview.” This sentence is not correct. The suit, not William, is on the hanger! The modifier must come closer to the word it is meant to describe:

For the interview, William borrowed Grandpa's old suit, which was draped neatly on a hanger

Straightening his tie and smoothing his hair, the appointment time for the interview had finally arrived. This is not correct. We assume William is about to interview, but where is he in the sentence? We need a target for the participle phrase straightening his tie and smoothing his hair:

Straightening his tie and smoothing his hair, William was relieved that the appointment time for the interview had finally arrived.

The Infinitive Phrase

An infinitive phrase begins with an infinitive [to + simple form of the verb]. It includes objects and/or modifiers.

Here are some examples:

To smash a spider

To kick the ball past the dazed goalie

To lick the grease from his shiny fingers despite the disapproving glances of his girlfriend Gloria

Infinitive phrases can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Look at these examples:

To finish her shift without spilling another pizza into a customer's lap is Roy's only goal tonight.

‘To finish her shift without spilling another pizza into a customer's lap’ functions as a noun because it is the subject of the sentence.

Ria hopes to win the approval of her mother by switching her major from fine arts to pre-med.

‘To win the approval of her mother’ functions as a noun because it is the direct object for the verb ‘hopes’.

The best way to survive Dr. Peterson's boring history lectures is a sharp pencil to stab in your thigh if you catch yourself drifting off.

‘To survive Dr. Peterson's boring history lectures’ functions as an adjective because it modifies ‘way’.

Kelvin, an aspiring comic book artist, is taking Anatomy and Physiology this semester to understand the interplay of muscle and bone in the human body.

‘To understand the interplay of muscle and bone in the human body’ functions as an adverb because it explains why Kelvin is taking the class.


When an infinitive phrase introduces a main clause, separate the two sentence components with a comma. The pattern looks like this:

Infinitive Phrase + , + Main Clause.

Read this example:

To avoid burning another bag of popcorn, Rahman pressed his nose against the microwave door, sniffing suspiciously.

When an infinitive phrase breaks the flow of a main clause, use a comma both before and after the interrupter. The pattern looks like this:

Start of Main Clause + , + Interrupter + , + End of Main Clause.

Here is an example:

Those basketball shoes, to be perfectly honest, do not complement the suit you are planning to wear to the interview.

When an infinitive phrase concludes a main clause, you need no punctuation to connect the two sentence parts. The pattern looks like this:

Main Clause + Ø + Infinitive Phrase.

Check out this example:

Ria and her friends went to the mall to flirt with the cute guys who congregate at the food court.

Exercise A

Identify the gerund phrases:

  1. Eating ice cream on a hot day can be a good way to cool off.

  1. Reading mystery novels is my favorite activity.

  1. Esha’s favorite subject is creative writing.

  1. Rafat likes cycling through the open road.

  1. Walking on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.

Exercise B

Identify the participle phrases:

  1. The secretary is charming.

  1. I saw the man going to the market.

  1. The pen is lost.

  1. We found the broken chain.

  1. Having done the work, he went home.

Exercise C

Identify the infinitive phrases:

  1. The family decided to leave the place.

  1. To swim regularly is good for you.

  1. Luna’s decision to study medicine was appreciated.

  1. I am happy to see you.

  1. Jamil failed to do the sum.

Answer Key


  1. Eating ice cream on a hot day

  1. Reading mystery novels

  1. creative writing

  1. cycling through the open road

  1. Walking on the beach


  1. charming

  1. going

  1. lost

  1. broken

  1. Having done the work


  1. to leave the place

  1. To swim regularly

  1. to study medicine

  1. to see you

  1. to do the sum

Lesson 5 : Common Phrasal Expressions


  1. To blow up something (or blow something up) means to fill it with air; for example, a balloon, or a car or bicycle tyre.

Example of use:

Can you blow these balloons up for the party, please?

2. Blow up also means to suddenly lose your temper (get very angry).

Example of use:

  1. I broke her iPad and she blew up at me.

  1. We were having a discussion about the accounts and he suddenly blew up and stormed out.

3. When something blows up (or when somebody blows something up) it explodes.

Examples of use:

  1. The family were injured when their house blew up because of a gas leak.

  1. Fortunately the plane was empty when the hijackers blew it up.


1. If a vehicle or machine breaks down it stops working.

Examples of use:

  1. Our car broke down on the way to the airport and we missed our flight.

  1. My washing machine has broken down.

  1. Sorry I’m late. The train broke down.

2. If you break down you are unable to control your feelings and you start to cry.

Examples of use:

  1. She broke down when she heard the sad news.

  1. He misses his mother very much, and he often breaks down when he talks about her.

  1. To break down is also to become mentally or physically ill because of difficult or traumatic experiences.

breakdown (noun) – a physical or mental collapse.

Examples of use:

  1. Not long after her husband died she broke down and had to take some time off work.

  1. She had a nervous breakdown after her son was kidnapped.

c) He had a breakdown last year but he's much better now.

  1. If a meeting, discussion or an agreement (including a relationship or marriage) breaks down it fails or stops working properly.

Examples of use:

  1. The talks between the political parties have broken down.

  1. Our marriage has broken down and we are getting a divorce.


  1. If you call back somebody (or call somebody back) you telephone someone who rang you earlier, or you telephone someone for a second time.

Examples of use:

  1. Mr Evans telephoned while you were out: he wants you to call him back.

  1. He forgot to book a double room, so he had to call the hotel back.

2. To call back is to return to a place to see somebody again.

Examples of use:

a) Mrs Bottone is in a meeting. Can you call back this afternoon, please?


  1. To call off something (or call something off) is to cancel a planned event, or an event that has already started.

Examples of use:

  1. They are calling off the tennis match because of the rain.

  1. They called off their wedding.

  1. Mike is ill so we will have to call the party off.

  1. News headline: Spain airport strike called off.

  1. The police called off their search for the burglar after they found him hiding in a shed.

  1. The Bahrain Grand Prix has been called off.

  1. To call off somebody or something (or call somebody or something off) is to give a command to somebody or something (e.g. a dog) to leave someone alone, or to stop attacking someone.

Examples of use:

  1. Call off your dog!

  1. The General called off his troops.

  1. OK, I agree to your demands. You can call your lawyers off now.


To call around is to visit someone, usually for a short period of time.

Examples of use:

  1. I think I'll call around and see if my grandmother needs anything.

  1. We called around yesterday, but you were out.

  1. Mrs Green's son calls around after work every day. She looks forward to his visits.

  1. Why don't you call around tomorrow? We can have a cup of tea and a chat.


  1. To check in is to show your ticket at an airport so that the airline knows you have arrived, and they can put your bags on the aircraft.

Examples of use:

  1. We have to check in at 8 o'clock.

  1. Please check in at least one hour before your flight leaves.

The check-in (noun) is the place at the airport where you show your ticket and let the airline know that you have arrived.

  1. To check in (or check into something) is to arrive at a hotel reception desk and tell the hotel staff who you are, and collect your room key.

Examples of use:

  1. We need to check into our hotel before 10 pm.

  1. I'll meet you in the hotel restaurant in 10 minutes. I'll just check in and put my suitcase in my room.

  2. Where's dad? He's checking in and collecting our room keys.


1. To cheer up is to start to feel happier.

Examples of use:

  1. I wish he would cheer up.

  1. She was very unhappy last week, but she has cheered up now.

  1. He cheers up when he sees his girlfriend.

2. To cheer up somebody (or cheer somebody up) is to make them feel happier.

Examples of use:

  1. Harriet has had a very bad week. Let's buy her some flowers to cheer her up.

  1. You look sad. What can I do to cheer you up?


To eat out is to eat away from home, at a cafe or restaurant.

Examples of use:

  1. I don't feel like cooking tonight so let's eat out.

  1. We have eaten out every night this week!

  1. I don't like eating out. I prefer to eat at home.

  1. I enjoy eating out with friends and family.


  1. To fall out with someone is to become upset or angry with them, and stop being friendly with them.

Examples of use:

  1. We fell out over something very small.

  1. I fell out with my sister because she broke my necklace.

  1. Ingrid and Beatrice fell out when Ingrid crashed Beatrice's car.

  1. Marcus and Akos have fallen out.

Example of use:

Jerry hasn't spoken to his brother for years. They had a falling-out over money.

2. If your hair falls out it becomes loose and unattached.

Examples of use:

  1. My hair fell out when I was ill.

  1. My father's hair started to fall out when he was only 30, and now he is completely bald.


1. To fall over is to fall to the ground from an upright position.

Examples of use:

  1. The marathon runner fell over.

  1. He stood up quickly and his chair fell over.

  1. My son is learning to walk and he keeps falling over.

  1. Their grandmother has fallen over and broken her hip.

2. If you fall over yourself (or fall all over yourself) to do something, you are very keen to do it.

Examples of use:

  1. Chris fell over himself trying to impress his new wife.

  1. The supermarkets are falling over themselves to attract customers to their shops.


1. To get up is to wake up and get out of bed.

Examples of use:

  1. It's 8 o'clock: time to get up.

  1. I want to get up early tomorrow.

  1. We had a day off work yesterday so we got up very late.

  1. He's been getting up at 5am every day for years.

  1. She gets up early and goes for a run every morning.

  1. I get up at 7.30 every day.

2. To get up is also to stand up.

Examples of use:

  1. Get up off the floor. Your clothes will get dirty.

  1. He fell over when he was playing football, but quickly got up again.


  1. If you give up something (or give something up) that is bad for you (for example alcohol, smoking, and eating fatty foods) you stop doing it or having it.

Examples of use:

  1. Eric gave up smoking two years ago.

  1. We're trying to lose weight so we've given up eating cakes.

  1. He had to give up drinking alcohol because it made him ill.

  1. To give up something (or give something up) is to stop doing a job, or something else you do regularly.

Example of use:

He gave up work to look after his children.

  1. To give up something (or give something up) is also to stop doing something because it is too difficult for you to continue.

Examples of use:

  1. I gave up learning English because I was too busy with work and my family.

  1. He wanted to finish the marathon but he had to give up after ten miles.

  1. She had to give her job up because her elderly sister was ill.

4. To give up is to stop trying to think of the answer to a question or problem, or a joke.

Examples of use:

  1. I give up. I don't know the answer. Tell me what it is.

  1. I gave up trying to remember the date of my friend's birthday, and asked her mother instead.


1. To grow up is to become older or to become an adult.

Examples of use:

  1. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.

  1. He grew up in Thailand.

  1. She's growing up fast.

2. Grow up is something you say to someone who is behaving in a childish or immature way.

Examples of use:

  1. You're being stupid. Why don't you just grow up?

  1. Oh grow up! I've heard enough of your silly jokes.

3. grown-up (adjective) – When children look or behave in a mature way they are grown-up.

Example of use:

She looked very grown-up in her new dress.

4. grown-up (noun) – a grown-up is an adult. Informal English – usually used by children.

Example of use:

He wanted to sit with the grown-ups but he had to look after his brother and sister.


  1. To hang around somewhere is to spend time there doing very little. This phrasal verb can also be hang around and hang about.

Examples of use:

  1. Will you stop hanging around the kitchen and go and do something useful!

  1. You go on ahead. I'll hang around here and wait for William to arrive.

  1. I've been hanging round all day waiting for the plumber to arrive.

2. To hang around with someone is to spend time with them

This phrasal verb can also be hang around and hang about with somebody.

Examples of use:

  1. We used to hang around together when we were children.

  1. She hangs around with Alice and Jenny.


  1. To hang up something (or hang something up) means to hang something, especially clothes, on a hanger or hook.

Examples of use:

  1. Your grandmother is coming to visit today, so don't forget to hang up your clothes when you tidy your room.

  1. Could you hang my coat up, please?

  1. I’ll hang your coat up in the study.

2. To hang up also means to end a telephone conversation, especially suddenly or unexpectedly.

If you hang up you replace the part of the telephone you speak into back onto its normal place on the telephone – however, we also use this expression when referring to ending conversations on mobile phones.

Examples of use:

  1. Don't hang up on me.

  1. Don't buy anything from that company: the lady from their customer service department hung up on me last week.

  1. How dare you hang up on me!

  1. My girlfriend is angry with me and she keeps hanging up on me.

  1. To be hung up is to be very anxious about something and to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Examples of use:

  1. Many women are hung up about their weight.

  1. There's no point getting hung up about it; there's nothing you can do.

  1. A hang-up (noun, informal) is something that a person worries about a lot, or is afraid of.

Examples of use:

  1. She has a real hang-up about being seen without her make-up on.

  1. He doesn't have any hang-ups.


When you hurry up you do something more quickly.

Examples of use:

  1. Can you hurry up and put your coat on, please?

  1. It's nearly time for bed so hurry up and finish your homework.

  1. Hurry up. Our taxi is here.

  1. If you don’t hurry up we’ll miss the train.


To join in something is to become involved in an activity with other people.

Examples of use:

  1. Your brother is playing football. Why don't you go and join in?

  1. We're playing cards tomorrow night. Come and join in. Everyone is welcome.

  1. Amelia is very shy. She never joins in with the other children's games.


To live up to is to be as good as someone hopes or expects.

If someone or something lives up to people's expectations, they are as good as they are expected to be.

Examples of use:

  1. Our hotel was amazing and lived up to all our expectations.

  1. Last night's concert was good, but I don't think he lived up to his reputation as a world-class entertainer.

  1. Did the Harry Potter movie live up to your expectations? Yes! It was fantastic!

  1. I'm not living up to my parents' dreams: they want me to be a doctor like my father, but I want to be an actor.

  1. News headline: Barack Obama's speech failed to live up to his own high standards.

  1. Will the new McLaren Formula 1 car live up to expectations?

  1. Will the iPad live up to the hype?

  1. You're not living up to your potential - you should get a job, earn some money and do something with your life.


If you look after somebody or something, you do whatever is needed to keep them healthy and well, or in good condition.

Examples of use:

  1. Eric looks after his family very well.

  1. Look after your new shoes.

  1. Can you look after your sister while I'm busy with the housework, please?

  1. Look after yourself while I'm away.


To look somebody up (or look up somebody) is to locate and visit someone you have not seen for a long time.

Examples of use:

  1. Look me up if you are ever in England.

  1. I went to Newcastle on business last week and I looked up an old friend.

  1. My friends were on holiday in my city, so they looked me up and we all went to a restaurant for a meal.


To look up something (or look something up) is to try and find a piece of information in a book (such as a dictionary, directory, thesaurus or encyclopedia), or by using a computer.

Examples of use:

  1. I'm looking up information about phrasal verbs.

  1. Look up the meaning of new English words in your dictionary.

  1. I looked up her telephone number in the telephone directory.

  1. Q. What are you doing?

A. I'm looking up the population of Brazil for my geography project.


To make up something (or make something up) is to invent a story or excuse. This can be something written or said in order to deceive (a lie), or a story or game to entertain.

Examples of use:

  1. He made up lies about me.

  1. The politician said that the newspaper reporter made up the information about her expenses claim.

  1. The children made up a wonderful game about dragons and kings and queens.

  1. It’s wrong to make up stories about people.


To meet up is to meet someone, or a group of people, in order to do something together.

Examples of use:

  1. Can we meet up for lunch next week to discuss your plans for the business?

  1. The accountant and I are meeting up at 2 pm tomorrow to check the business accounts.

  1. I’m meeting up with my friends on Saturday.

  1. Are you free on Monday? It would be lovely to meet up for coffee.


To move in is to start living in a new place, and to put all your furniture and personal possessions into your new home.

Examples of use:

a) Question. When are you moving house?

Answer. I moved in last week. Here's my new address.

  1. Louise and Simon have bought a new house and they are moving in today.

  1. Question: How long have you lived here?

Answer: We moved in in 1996.


To move out is to leave a place and take all your furniture and other possessions with you.

Examples of use:

  1. We're moving out on Sunday.

  1. The lease on my flat expires at the end of the month and I have to move out.

  1. Sarah has bought a new house and she is moving out of her old place today.


To phone up somebody (or phone somebody up) is to telephone them.

Examples of use:

  1. Phone up Mr. Hargreaves and arrange a meeting, please.

  1. Max is late. Can you phone him up and ask him where he is?

To ring up somebody (or ring somebody up) means the same as phone up.


To pick up something or somebody (or pick something or somebody up) is to lift something or somebody by using your hands.

Examples of use:

  1. She picked the children's clothes up off the floor.

  1. He picked up his suitcase and put it in the boot of the car.

  1. The baby was crying so she picked her up.


  1. To put off something (or put something off) is to decide to do something at a later time or date (to postpone it).

Examples of use:

  1. We were going to get married in March, but we put it off until June because my grandmother was ill.

  1. Can we put off the meeting until tomorrow, please? I am very busy today.

2. To put off someone (or put someone off) is to delay seeing them or doing something for them.

Examples of use:

  1. I don't want to see the salesman today. Can you put him off until next week?

  1. My parents were coming to visit this week, but we had to put them off because our heating is broken.


  1. To queue up for something is to wait in a line (a queue) in order to get something, do something, or go somewhere.

Examples of use:

  1. They queued up to get their new work contracts.

  1. We had to queue up for more than an hour to get a taxi home.

  1. Fans queued up for hours to see the final Harry Potter film.

  1. Traffic is queueing up on the motorway.

  1. News headline: Hundreds queue up for Apple iPhone4.

2. To be queueing up to do something is to want to do it very much.

If people are queueing up for something or to do something, a lot of them want to do it or have it.

Examples of use:

  1. Journalists are queuing up to interview Camden residents and business owners about the London riots.

  1. Model agencies are queueing up to sign up the French model.

  1. He's a fantastic singer. The recording companies will be queueing up to give him a contract.


To read out something (or read something out) is to read the words and say them so that people can hear you.

Examples of use:

  1. Simon, can you read the instructions out for me, please?

  1. She read out the names of the winners.


  1. To rely on (or rely upon) somebody or something is to trust someone or something to do what you need or expect them to do.

Often + to do something.

Examples of use:

  1. I'm relying on you not to drop me!

  1. Can I rely on you to keep my secret?

  1. We need someone we can rely on to manage the business for us.

  1. I wish I could rely on my train arriving on time.

  1. I'm relying on my students to finish their English homework this week.

  1. We're relying on our old car to get us to the airport on time.

  1. You can rely on Jasmine.

  1. To rely on (or rely upon) somebody or something is to need or depend on someone or something in order to work correctly, to succeed, or to survive.

Examples of use:

  1. We rely on our son to do our food shopping for us.

  1. He relies on the income from his writing for paying his bills.

  1. Our elderly neighbour relies on her children for help.

  1. I'm relying on all of you to work hard and make this team a success.

  1. The English students relied on their teachers to help them pass their English exams.

  1. Our business relies on government contracts.


1. To run out of something is to use all of it so that there is nothing left.

Examples of use:

  1. I've run out of bread.

  1. We can't have coffee this morning because we've run out of milk.

  1. I ran out of petrol on my way to work this morning.

  1. News headline: Fresh water supplies are going to run out.

  1. We’re running out of orange juice. I’ll buy some more today.


To save up something (or save something up) is to keep money so that you have enough to buy something in the future.

Examples of use:

  1. We are saving up for a house.

  1. You will have to save up if you want to buy that expensive car.

  1. He saved up for a year for a new motorbike.

  1. She saved her allowance up to buy a ticket to see her favourite band.


To sell out of something is to sell all of it and have no more left for people to buy.

Examples of use:

  1. Their designer shoes are beautiful, but they have sold out in my size.

  1. We're selling out of iPhones very fast. We must order some more.

  1. I'm sorry. We have sold out of tickets for the show.

  1. He sells out of his homemade cakes every day.


1. To set off is to start a journey.

Examples of use:

  1. What time are we setting off?

  1. They set off for home.

  1. There are roadworks on the motorway so you'd better set off early.

  1. He set off from Paris last Sunday.

  1. We set off for London with only £20 in our pockets.

  1. I'm looking forward to setting off on my summer holiday.

2. To set off something (or set something off) is to cause something to start or happen.

Examples of use:

  1. The loud music set off the baby's crying.

  1. The proposed wage cuts set off a work-to-rule.

  1. News headline: Nick Clegg is about to set off an almighty row over universities.

  1. To set off something (or set something off) is to cause something to explode or start to ring loudly.

Examples of use:

  1. The smoke from the fire set off the smoke alarm.

  1. They set a bomb off outside the building.

  1. A spark set off the fireworks.


  1. To settle down is to start living in a place where you plan stay for a long time, especially after living in many different places or travelling a lot.

Example of use:

I worked in many different countries when I was younger, but I came back to the UK in 2005 and settled down and got married.

  1. When two people settle down together they set up a life together and get married, buy a house and start a family.

Example of use:

  1. Alice and Peter are settling down and buying a house together. They are getting married in June.

  1. They make a lovely couple. I hope they settle down together.

3. To settle down is also to become calm and quiet.

Examples of use:

  1. I wish the children would settle down and go to sleep- I'm exhausted!

  1. Settle down class, and get your books out. Today we're going to learn about phrasal verbs.

  1. There was a fight between the rival football fans but the situation has settled down now.


1. To show off is to try and make people notice and admire you in a way which is annoying.

Examples of use:

  1. Stop showing off!

  1. He’s always showing off in the classroom and getting into trouble.

  1. To show off somebody or something (or show somebody or something off) is to display it proudly.

Examples of use:

  1. John showed off his new toy to his grandparents.

  1. We were invited to their house so they could show off their valuable paintings.

  1. She showed off her new pearl necklace to her work colleagues.

  1. Oh no! Here comes our neighbour showing off his new car. show-off (noun) - somebody who shows off


  1. To sort out something (or sort something out) is to organize or arrange things which are untidy.

Examples of use:

  1. My bookcase is in a mess. I need to sort out my books.

  1. Your room is very untidy. Sort out your clothes and put them in your cupboard, please.

  1. To sort out something (or sort something out) is also to resolve a problem or misunderstanding.

Examples of use:

  1. I had a problem with my car brakes but my brother sorted them out.

  1. If my parents have any trouble with their computer their neighbor always sorts it out for them.

  1. Will you two stop arguing and sort out your disagreements?!

  1. To sort out something (or sort something out) is to discuss it with someone and make a decision about what to do.

  1. We need to sort out the arrangements for our holiday.

  1. Let's sit down and sort out the guest list for the wedding.


  1. To take up something (or take something up) is to start doing a particular, activity, job or hobby etc.

Examples of use:

  1. My grandmother has taken up knitting.

  1. I've recently taken up photography.

  1. You're good at writing stories. Why don't you take it up as a career?

  1. He took up stamp collecting when he was a boy.

  1. To take up something (or take something up) is to shorten a piece of clothing, such as a dress or trousers.

Examples of use:

  1. My new trousers are too long - I need to take them up.

  1. My wedding dress had to be taken up 10 cm.

  1. Your skirt is a bit long. Shall I take it up for you?


To tell off somebody (or tell somebody off) is to speak angrily to someone because they have done something wrong.

Examples of use:

  1. Mum will tell you off for breaking that window.

  1. Our English teacher told us off for throwing paper aeroplanes in class.

  1. He tells us off for the smallest things.

  1. Twitter update from the Mayor of London: Just been told off for cycling inside city hall. Sorry security!

  1. News headline: Woman told off for giving ducks wrong kind of bread.


  1. To throw away something (or throw something away) is to dispose of something you don't want by putting in a rubbish bin, waste-paper basket, waste-disposal unit etc.

Examples of use:

  1. I threw my old coat away.

  1. Why don't you throw away those smelly old shoes?

  1. He has thrown away all of his rusty tools, and bought new ones.

  1. She doesn't like throwing things away.

  1. My mum threw my English essay away by mistake.

  1. To throw away something (or throw something away) also means to ruin or lose something valuable or important, by doing something reckless or foolish.

Examples of use:

  1. She went out with her friends every night instead of studying, and threw away her chance of a place at university.

  1. Don't throw away your marriage. You need to spend more time with your wife.

  1. William had a good career and a lovely home, but he threw it all away with his gambling and drinking.


To try on something (or try something on) is to put an item of clothing on to find out whether it fits you or whether you like it, especially before buying it.

Examples of use:

  1. I like these shoes. I think I'll try them on.

  1. I hate trying on new clothes.

  1. This shirt is too small: I should have tried it on before I bought it.

  1. School starts again next week so you must try on your new school uniform.

  1. She's tried on more than thirty wedding dresses, but she can't find one she likes.


  1. To turn off something (or turn something off) is to stop it from working or flowing with a switch or a tap.

Examples of use:

  1. Don't forget to turn the tap off when you've finished washing your hands.

  1. I've turned off all the lights and locked the door.

  1. This switch turns off the kitchen light.

  1. Turn the TV off now – it’s time for bed.

2. To turn off a road is to leave it and travel along a different road.

Example of use:

  1. Turn off here, please. My house is the last one on the right.

  1. If we turn off at the next junction I'm sure we'll get there sooner.


  1. Turn up something or turn something up. When you turn up a machine or electrical device you change the controls so that it is producing more of something, for example sound or heat.

Examples of use:

  1. Can you turn the television up, please? I can't hear it.

  1. The oven isn't hot enough. You need to turn it up.

  1. It's freezing in here. I'll turn the heating up.

2. When somebody, or something, turns up at a place they arrive there.

Examples of use:

  1. I've invited twenty people to my party I wonder if they will all turn up.

  1. I hope the taxi turns up soon.

3. When something, or someone, turns up they appear unexpectedly, especially if they were lost.

Example of use:

a) My neighbour's dog ran away last week, and this morning it turned up on her doorstep.


1. To wake up is to stop sleeping.

Examples of use:

  1. I woke up at 6am this morning.

  1. I will wake up early tomorrow and practise my English.

  1. It's 11am and I've only just woken up.

  1. I keep waking up in the middle of the night.

2. To wake up somebody (or wake somebody up) is to stop them sleeping.

Examples of use:

  1. Go and wake your brother up, please.

  1. Can you wake me up before you go to work?

  1. Your snoring woke me up last night.

3. To wake up to something is to become aware of a problem, or understand the truth about it.

Examples of use:

  1. Why don't you wake up! He's been lying to you for years.

  1. Some scientists think we need to wake up to climate change.


  1. To wash up something (or wash something up) is to clean the dishes, saucepans and cutlery that you have used for cooking and eating a meal.

Examples of use:

  1. Can you help me wash up these dishes, please?

  1. I love cooking, but I hate washing up all the saucepans afterwards.

2. To wash up is to clean your hands with soap and water.

Examples of use:

  1. Dinner is ready – go and wash up, please.

  1. Make sure you wash up before you eat your take-out.

  1. Wash up something or wash something up. When something washes up it is carried to land by the sea or a river, and left there.

Examples of use:

  1. The old boat washed up on the beach in the storm.

  1. The sea washes up old fishing nets in the winter.

  1. A whale carcass washed up on the beach last week.


To write down something (or write something down) is to write something on a piece of paper so that you do not forget it.

Examples of use:

  1. They wrote down everything their teacher said about learning phrasal verbs.

  1. I wrote his telephone number down.

  1. Can you write down a list of things we need to take on holiday?

  1. Can you write that down, please? I don't want to forget it.

  1. I'll read it out, and you write it down.


Fill the gaps with appropriate phrases:

1. We __________________ at 7 am this morning. a) got in b) got out c) got up

2. I don’t want to cook tonight – let’s ________________. 

a) eat out b) eat in c) eat up

3. The taxi ________________ on the way to the airport and we missed our flight.

a) broke off b) broke up c) broke down

  1. I’m going to ____________________ for a new computer.

a) save up b) look up c) wait up

5. Do you ____________________ ghosts? (you are sure they exist)

a) make up b) believe in c) tell off

6. I was very unhappy yesterday but I’ve ___________________ today. a) looked up b) cheered up c) cheered on

  1. I’ve ____________________ smoking. (stopped)

a) given back b) given away c) given up

  1. We ____________________ from Rome at 7am. (We started our journey at 7am) a) set in b) set up c) set off

  1. The horse race has been ____________________. (The horse race has been cancelled) a) called off b) called out c) called on

  1. We ____________________ in a small flat in London.

a) grew up b) grew into c) grew on

  1. They’ve decided to ____________________ their wedding until John has recovered from his accident. (They have postponed their wedding)

a) put on b) put out c) put off

12. He ____________________ petrol on his way to work.

a) ran off with b) ran out of c) ran over

13. Don’t drop your coat on the floor --- ____________________ .

a) hang up! b) hang it up! c) hang on!

  1. We’ve bought a new house and we’re ____________________ next week.

a) moving in b) moving along c) moving on

  1. She’s recently ____________________ photography. (she recently started doing something) a) taken up b) taken out c) taken over

  1. She read out the names of the winners. (read aloud)

a) read back b) read out c) read up on

  1. My friend and I ____________________ over money. (we stopped being friendly) a) fell over b) fell in c) fell out

  1. Dinner is ready – go and ____________________ please.

a) wash down b) wash up c) wash out

19. ___________________ and get dressed – you’re late for school.

a) Hurry up b) Hurry on c) Hang on

20. I’m in London on Wednesday - let’s ____________________ for lunch.

a) meet with b) meet up c) hang around

 Answer Key

  1. c 2) a 3) c 4) a 5) b 6) b 7) c 8) c 9) a 10) a 11) c 12) b 13) b 14) a 15) a 16) b 17) c 18) b 19) a  20)b
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