English Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verbs are idiomatic expressions, combining verbs and prepositions to make new verbs whose meaning is often not obvious from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. They are widely used in both written and spoken English, and new ones are formed all the time as they are a flexible way of creating new terms.

Phrasal Verb consists of a verb and a preposition or adverb that modifies or changes the meaning. Give up is such a verb that means stop doing something, which is very different from give. The word or words that modify a verb in this manner can also go under the name particle.

A reference page of
2,570 current English Phrasal Verbs (also called multi-word verbs) with definitions and examples is here.

Phrasal Verbs beginning with T :

Tack on: Ad something that wasn't planned

They TACKED ON a new ending to the film when they found that test audiences didn't like the original.

Tack onto: Add or attach something that wasn't planned to something

I TACKED a quick message ONTO the end of the letter after I'd printed it.

Tag along: Accompany someone, especially if they haven't specifically invited you

You're off to the cinema; can we TAG ALONG?

Tag on: Add an additional point to something written or spoken

He TAGGED ON a few comments after reading my report.

Tag onto: Add an additional point to something written or spoken

He TAGGED his ideas ONTO the end of my report.

Tag with: Add a keyword link or bookmark to a blog entry or webpage

The post was TAGGED WITH keywords.

Tail away: Become silent or inaudible

His voice TAILED AWAY when he was speaking about what he'd done wrong.

Tail back: Form a traffic jam

The traffic TAILED BACK for several miles after the accident.

Tail off:

Become silent or inaudible

The voices TAILED OFF when she entered.


Profits TAILED OFF sharply in the last quarter of the year as a result of the increase in the price of oil.

Take after: Look like, resemble

He TAKES AFTER his mother.

Take apart: Take something to pieces

She TOOK the photocopier APART to see what had got stuck in it.

Take aside: Get someone alone to talk to them

The teacher TOOK her ASIDE and said that she'd failed the exam.

Take away: Remove

The police TOOK the protestors AWAY.

Take back:

Make someone nostalgic

That song always TAKES me BACK to when I was at university.

Retract a statement, admit that something was wrong

I had to TAKE BACK everything bad I'd said about them when I learned how they'd helped out.

Take down:

Make notes or write down in full

The police TOOK DOWN his answers to their questions.


People TAKE DOWN their Christmas decorations twelve days after Christmas.

Take in:

Absorb information

The lecture was rather boring and I didn't TAKE IN much of what the lecturer said.


She TOOK me IN with her story until someone told me the truth.

Make clothes smaller

The jacket was far too big around the shoulders, so I had it TAKEN IN so that I could wear it.

Take it: Accept criticism

He's good at criticizing others, but can't TAKE IT himself.

Take it out on: Abuse someone because you're angry

Whenever things go wrong, he always shouts and TAKES IT OUT ON me, even if I had nothing to do with the problem.

Take it upon yourself: Take responsibility, often without consulting other people

I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF to make sure he got up on time.

Take off:

Make great progress

The software house really TOOK OFF when they produced the latest version of their DTP package.

Reduce the price of an item

They've TAKEN ten percent OFF designer frames for glasses.

When a plane departs or leaves the ground

The flight for Dublin TOOK OFF on time.

Take on:

Allow passengers on a ship or plane

The plane stopped at Zurich to TAKE ON some passengers.

Assume a responsibility

She TOOK ON the task of indexing the book.


The council has had to TAKE ON twenty extra employees to handle their increased workload.

Take out:

Borrow a library book

I TOOK OUT all the books I needed for my essay from the library.

Borrow money from a bank or other official lender

Jackie and Anil TOOK OUT a mortgage to buy a bigger flat.

Extract or remove

The dentist TOOK OUT all of my wisdom teeth before they started causing any problems.

Go out socially with someone, especially a date

He TOOK her OUT to a restaurant last Friday night.

Obtain insurance

I TOOK OUT some health insurance before I went backpacking around Latin America.

Kill, murder

The gang TOOK him OUT after he spoke to the police.

Take over: Assume control of a company or organization

The bank was TAKEN OVER by a Hong Kong bank that needed to buy a bank to get into the British market.

Take to: Make a habit of something

He's TAKEN TO wearing a baseball cap since his hair started thinning more noticeably.

Take up:

Fill or occupy time or space

An awful lot of my time at work is TAKEN UP with pointless bureaucracy nowadays.

Make clothes shorter

The trousers were too long so I TOOK them UP to make them fit.

Start a new hobby, pastime, etc.

He TOOK UP squash as he felt he had to lose some weight.

Talk back: Respond rudely to a person in authority

The teacher was cross because the pupil TALKED BACK to her.

Talk down: Try to make something sound less important

The company CEO TALKED DOWN the recent fall in shares.

Talk down to: Talk in a way to show your superiority not communicate

She's a dreadful teacher and TALKS DOWN TO her students instead of teaching them.

Talk into: Persuade someone to do something

She didn't want to let me go, but I finally managed to TALK her INTO it.

Talk out of: Persuade someone not to do something

He was going to drive home after drinking half a bottle of wine, but his friends TALKED him OUT OF it.

Talk over: Discuss

We TALKED OVER the problems in our relationship, but couldn't sort things out.

Talk through: Guide someone through an issue

The teacher TALKED me THROUGH the test so I knew what to expect.

Talk up: Make something appear more important or significant than it really is

The government is trying to TALK UP the effect of their policies.

Tap for: Get money off someone

I TAPPED him FOR a loan.

Tap into: Use or exploit a plentiful resource for your benefit

The company is hoping to TAP INTO the Chinese market.

Tap off with: Have sex

He TAPPED OFF WITH someone at the party on Saturday.

Tap out: Play a rhythm quietly

He TAPPED OUT the tune with his pencil while he was thinking.

Tap up: Approach a footballer illegally to get them to change teams

Chelsea was accused of TAPPING him UP even though he was under contract.

Tear apart: Disturb or upset greatly

People were TORN APART when news of the train crash came through.

Tear at: Pull or try to pull something to pieces

The fighters TORE AT each other.

Tear away:

Stop someone doing something unwillingly

I had to TEAR him AWAY from the office for dinner.

Remove a surface violently

The roof was TORN AWAY in the hurricane.

Tear down: Demolish

The estate was TORN DOWN so that they could develop the land into luxury flats.

Tear into: Criticize strongly or angrily

She TORE INTO me for losing it.

Tear off:

Remove part of a form or letter using your hands, not scissors

She TORE the slip OFF the bottom of the form and sent it with her cheque.

Leave at high speed

The police TORE OFF in their car after arresting her.

Remove with force

The storm TORE the roof OFF.

Tear up:

Rip into pieces

He TORE the fax UP and threw the bits of paper in the bin.


They are TEARING UP the old part of town to build a new shopping centre.

Tee off:

Start or launch an event

The new project will TEE OFF next month.

Place a golf ball on a short plastic or wooden stick before hitting it at the start of a hole.

He TEED OFF at the first hole.

Annoy someone

It TEES me OFF when they turn up late.

Tee off on: Criticize

She TEED OFF ON me about the work I gave her.

Tee up:

Place a golf ball on a short plastic or wooden stick before hitting it at the start of a hole.

She TEED UP two strokes ahead at the last hole.

Make preparations before starting or launching something

They are TEEING UP for the conference tomorrow.

Tell apart: See a difference between two things

They're identical twins so I cannot TELL them APART.

Tell off: Chide; talk angrily to someone about something they've done wrong.

His fiancée TOLD him OFF for arriving nearly an hour late.

Tell on: Report someone to an authority

The pupil TOLD ON the others for cheating and the teacher failed them.

Think over: Consider something carefully

I've THOUGHT it OVER and have made up my mind; I'm going to take the job in Leeds.

Think through: Consider all the possibilities and outcomes of a situation

The plan fell through because they hadn't THOUGHT it THROUGH properly.

Think up: Create or invent something, especially when lying

I'd better THINK UP a good reason for handing the work in late.

Throw away: Discard something when no longer needed

I THREW the alarm clock AWAY because it had stopped working.

Throw out: Get rid of

I THREW OUT all my old clothes to make some space in my wardrobe.

Throw up: Vomit

The prawns she ate at lunch made her THROW UP and she had to go home early.

Tick away: Pass (of time)

The last few seconds TICKED AWAY and the team couldn't come back.

Tick by: Pass (of time)

The seconds TICKED BY and the team failed to score.

Tick off:


She really TICKS me OFF when she doesn't reply to my emails.


He TICKED me OFF for arriving late.

Put a mark on an item in a list when it has been dealt with

She TICKED OFF our names when we arrived.

Tick over:

Continue working, but without improving

The company TICKED OVER while she was away on holiday.

Operate but without moving (engines)

The mechanic left the engine TICKING OVER for a while to see if he could see what was causing the problem.

Tide over: Use something carefully so as not to finish it

This £50 will have to TIDE me OVER until I get paid.

Tidy up: Put things in the correct place in a room

I TIDIED UP my bedroom because it was a complete mess.

Tie back: Fasten or secure so that it doesn't obstruct

She TIED her hair BACK before playing tennis.

Tie down:

Secure something to prevent it moving

They TIED him DOWN to stop him escaping.

Remove or restrict freedom

Marriage TIES you DOWN.

Stop people (often police or military) going where they are needed

The army was TIED DOWN with the rebellion and couldn't help.

Tie in: Agree, be connected or support

The theory TIES IN with what the police have been saying.

Tie in with: Occur at the same time

The publication TIES IN WITH the twentieth anniversary of the incident.

Tie up:

Tie or fasten something securely

They TIED UP the hostages so that they couldn't escape.

Stop someone doing something

Work has TIED me UP all week.


I TIED UP my shoelaces.

Block a road, etc

The convoy TIED UP the road for an hour.

Tighten up: Make something more secure or function better

They're TIGHTENING UP security for the president's visit.

Tip off: Secretly inform the police or authorities

The police arrested the drug dealer after someone TIPPED them OFF.

Tip over: Spill, make something fall on its side

I TIPPED my coffee OVER and ruined my keyboard.

Tire of: Get bored of something

She soon TIRED OF the course and dropped out.

Tire out: Make someone exhausted

Working so much TIRES me OUT.

Toddle off: Leave, go home

It's getting late, so I'm going to TODDLE OFF home.

Tone down: Make something sound more moderate

The Minister tried to TONE DOWN what she had said when the press started attacking her.

Tool up:

Provide equipment

The company spent a lot on TOOLING the factory UP.

Arm yourself or somebody

The gangsters got TOOLED UP before they went into the club.

Top off: Finish something in a special way

He complained for an hour and to TOP it OFF started shouting his head off.

Top out: Stop increasing, reach the highest point

The temperature TOPPED OUT at forty degrees yesterday.

Top up: Refill something that isn't empty yet

Shall I TOP UP your drink while I'm pouring myself one?

Touch down: Land (planes)

The plane TOUCHED DOWN at Narita airport an hour late.

Touch for: Borrow money

I TOUCHED him FOR some cash as I'd forgotten my cards.

Touch off: Cause a problem to occur

The government's decision TOUCHED OFF riots in the capital.

Touch on: Mention

The talk TOUCHED ON the issue, but didn't give any new information.

Touch up:

Improve the appearance of something

I couldn't be bothered to redecorate, so I just TOUCHED UP the bits that needed painting the most.

Touch someone in a sexual way

She got angry when he tried to TOUCH her UP in the elevator.

Touch upon: Mention

They didn't TOUCH UPON the subject because of the controversy.

Toy at: Pretend to think about or think about in a casual way

She TOYED AT getting them to help her but then did it alone.

Toy over: Think about something

I TOYED OVER the idea for a while, but decided not to go ahead with it.

Toy with:

Not eat much of a meal

It was horrible, so I just TOYED WITH the food.

Consider something, but not very seriously

We TOYED WITH the idea of moving to the country, but it isn't really practical.

Move or play with something to occupy your hands

He TOYED WITH his cup.

Track down: Find after a long search

It took me ages to TRACK them DOWN in the crowd at the football game.

Trade down: Sell something and replace it with something cheaper

Their house it too large now that their children have left home, so they're going to TRADE DOWN to something smaller.

Trade in:

Exchange something old as part of the price of something new

She TRADED IN her old car for the new model.

Leave your wife or husband to marry someone younger

He TRADED IN his wife when he became the chairman.

Trade off:

Bargain, make a deal or compromise

A longer working week was TRADED OFF for a pay rise.

Accept something you don't really want to get something you do want

We had to TRADE OFF space for the location when buying the apartment.

Trade on: Exploit; use something to your advantage

He TRADES ON their insecurity to get his way.

Trade up:

Buy larger or more expensive items

British wine drinkers have TRADED UP over the last few years from cheap plonk to expensive wines.

Leave your wife or husband and marry someone better looking, richer, etc

She supported him for years while he was struggling, but when he hit the big time he left her and TRADED UP.

Trade upon: Exploit, use to your advantage

They TRADE UPON their reputation to scare rivals.

Trickle down: Pass benefits from economic expansion through the economy to the less fortunate

Despite the economic boom, few benefits have TRICKLED DOWN to the poor.

Trip over:


I TRIPPED OVER and hurt my knee.

Fall because you hit an obstacle

I TRIPPED OVER the kerb and broke my nose.

Trip up: Make a mistake

I TRIPPED UP in the interview when they asked me about what I could offer the company.

Trot out: Make a statement (meant negatively)

The spokeswoman TROTTED OUT the same old unconvincing excuses.

Trump up: Charge or accuse someone falsely

The police TRUMPED UP the charges against him and he ended up in prison though he hadn't done it.

Try back: Phone back

I called but they weren't in, so I'll TRY BACK later.

Try for: Make an attempt to get something

I'm going to TRY FOR the job.

Try it on:

Provoke someone by being annoying or behaving badly

The children were TRYING IT ON all night until I lost my temper.

Attempt to get something, usually by deceit, without great hopes of success

He knew I wasn't got to let him do it- he was just TRYING IT ON.

Try on: Put clothes on to see if they fit

I TRIED the jacket ON before I bought it.

Try out:


Scientists are TRYING OUT a new drug in the fight against the disease.

Test something to see if you like it or want to buy it

I TRIED OUT the program before I bought it.

Try out for: Be tested for a sports team

He TRIED OUT FOR the baseball team.

Tuck away:

Put something in a safe place

I TUCKED the money AWAY in my drawer.

Eat a lot

We TUCKED AWAY a huge dinner before we went out.

Tuck in:

Tidy the ends of items of clothing by placing them inside something

I forgot to TUCK my shirt IN.

Start eating enthusiastically

The dinner smelled so good I couldn't wait to TUCK IN.

Arrange the sheets, duvet or blankets to make someone, usually a child, comfortable in bed

He TUCKED her IN and read her a story.

Tuck into: Start eating something

I was starving and TUCKED INTO the food.

Tuck up: Arrange the sheets, duvet or blankets to make someone, usually a child, comfortable in bed

She TUCKED her children UP in bed and switched the lights off.

Tune in: Watch or listen to a TV or radio show

Be sure to TUNE IN next week for the next episode.

Tune in to: Watch or listen to a TV or radio programme

Make sure you TUNE IN TO next week's show.

Tune out: Ignore, not pay attention

I TUNED him OUT because he was talking such rubbish.

Tune up:

Improve the performance of a machine or engine

He's TUNED his car UP for the race.

Tune a musical instrument before playing

The orchestra TUNED UP their instruments before the concert.

Turn against: Stop liking and start disliking

The public TURNED AGAINST the government when they became arrogant and ceased to listen.

Turn away: Not allow someone to enter a place

The doorman TURNED him AWAY from the nightclub because he was wearing trainers.

Turn down:

Reduce volume, temperature, etc.

The room was too hot, so she TURNED the heating DOWN.

Reject an offer, invitation, etc. They offered her the job, but she TURNED it DOWN.

Turn in: Go to bed

I TURNED IN at half past eleven because I had an early start the next morning.

Turn into: Become

Tadpoles TURN INTO frogs.

Turn off: Stop a machine

I TURNED the TV OFF and went to bed.

Turn on:

Cause someone to feel attraction or pleasure

He really TURNS me ON.

Start a machine

I TURNED the radio ON to get the weather forecast.


The neighbor’s dog TURNED ON me when I tried to stroke it.

Turn out:


The factory TURNS OUT three thousand units a day.

Produce an unexpected result

It looked as if we were going to fail, but it TURNED OUT well in the end.

Stop a light

She TURNED OUT the lights and went to bed.


Thousand TURNED OUT for the demonstration.

Turn over: Give to the authorities

The court ordered the company to TURN OVER their financial records.

Turn to:

Try to get help

She had nobody to TURN TO when her husband died.

Take up a habit

He TURNED TO drink after he lost his job.

Turn up:


She didn't TURN UP for class today.

Increase volume, temperature, etc.

I TURNED the music UP full blast.

Type up: Type a finished version

She TYPED UP her lecture notes and printed them out.

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