So, you’re learning a new language and then, BAM! Phrasal verbs (see definition of the phrasal verb here). Phrasal verbs are great for making your English sound more natural. Phrasal verbs can often include country-specific meanings that can be rather tricky to understand or guess the meaning of. Some phrasal verbs can be more simple than others too. For example, “to move forward” or “travel somewhere” have the same meanings as “to go”. Phrasal verbs make up most of the English language, so it is essential that we learn them if becoming a near-native speaker is your goal. It can be daunting to learn them all at once, so here are ten common ones you can focus on.
Some phrasal verbs are easier to understand
- Go away – She went away for a few days. (left)
- Go back – She is going back to New York this weekend. (return)
- Go up – I need to go up into the loft. (go somewhere that is above you)
- Go down – He needs to go down to the stairs. (go somewhere)
- Go in – I looked but didn’t go in. (enter)
- Go out – I’m not going out tonight. It’s too cold! (Leave)
On the other hand, some phrasal verbs are not as easy
- Go about – I don’t care how you go about it, just do it! (how you do something)
- Go on – I wish he would stop going on about that girl. (talking lots and lots about something)
- Go ahead – The project was given the go ahead. (it starts to happen)
- Go off – The light has gone off (broken so they’ve turned off)
While other phrasal verbs have more than one meaning
- When we want someone to leave us alone, we would say “go away”. This doesn’t have to be a physical person or an object, but a smell or feeling too. For example, “the smell went away”.
- In England, it’s very common to hear people use the phrase “to go off on one” which means to get angry about something. For example, “he went off on one yesterday because the cats ripped open his garbage bags!
- When someone is going to go for a walk through town or go shopping, some people might say they are going to “go about town”.
- You may also hear people asking the question “What’s going on?” when they don’t know what is happening or, sometimes, when they want to know what needs to be added on top of something. An example for this is “What is going on the cake?”
Hopefully, you can now take a few of these phrasal verbs and use them to help you on your journey to becoming a fluent speaker. Just pick one and give it a go! The more you use it, the better you’ll get!
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Nicki and Cassie