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.

A 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 starting with S :

Sag off: Not go to school or work, or leave early when you shouldn't

I was bored so I SAGGED OFF work early and went home.

Sail into: Criticize angrily

He SAILED INTO me for turning up an hour late.

Sail through: Pass easily, succeed

He SAILED THROUGH the final test.

Sally forth: Leave somewhere safe or comfortable

The townspeople SALLIED FORTH to fight the invading army.

Sally out: Leave somewhere safe or comfortable

Though it was pouring with rain, we SALLIED OUT to meet her.

Salt away: Save money

She's making a lot of money, but SALTS it AWAY rather than spending it.

Save on: Reduce or avoid consumption to cut costs

I use Skype to SAVE ON my phone bills.

Save up:

For money for a particular purpose

He's SAVING UP to buy a car.

Collect or store something for future use

I'm SAVING UP the receipts to claim on them all at once.

Scare away: Frighten someone some much that they go away

The cat SCARED the birds AWAY.

Scare off: Make someone so frightened that he or she away

The vicious Doberman guard-dog SCARED the burglars AWAY.

Scout about: Look in different places for something

The company is SCOUTING ABOUT for new staff.

Scout around: Look in different places for something

We SCOUTED AROUND to find the best price.

Scout out: Search for something

The researcher spent months SCOUTING OUT the answer.

Scout round: Look in different places for something

I SCOUTED ROUND for a bargain.

Scout up: Try to find someone for a task or requirement We'd better SCOUT UP a replacement for her.

Scrape along: Manage with little money

I've been SCRAPING ALONG on temporary work since I lost my job.

Scrape by: Just manage to pass something

I thought I was going to fail, but SCRAPED BY with 51%.

Scrape in: Just get enough to succeed, pass or be accepted

The government SCRAPED IN with 51% of the votes cast.

Scrape into: Be accepted somewhere, but only just

She got mediocre grades and just SCRAPED INTO university.

Scrape through: Pass a test but only just

I did no revision and only just SCRAPED THROUGH the final exams.

Scrape together: Manage to collect enough of something you need, usually money

I had to search my flat for money to SCRAPE TOGETHER what I needed.

Scrape up: Manage to collect enough of something you need, usually money

It took me ages to SCRAPE UP the money for the tickets.

Screen off: Separate a part of a room with something like a curtain, screen, etc.

We SCREENED OFF the area where we had the discussion from the rest of the meeting.

Screen out:


Applicants without the right qualifications were SCREENED OUT.

Block light

The sun cream SCREENS OUT UV light.

Stop noticing something

There are so many notices and signs that I have started SCREENING them OUT.

Screw around:

Waste time

He spent the afternoon SCREWING AROUD and got nothing done.

Be sexually promiscuous

He SCREWED AROUND a lot at university.

Screw up: Do badly or fail

David SCREWED UP his oral exam but still managed to scrape a pass.

See about: Arrange, consider

I'll SEE ABOUT whether we can manage it.

See into:

Accompany someone into an office

Her secretary SAW me INTO her office.

See off:

Chase somebody or something away

A cat came into the back garden but the dog soon SAW it OFF.

Go to the airport, station, etc., to say goodbye to someone

I went to the station to SEE them OFF.

See out: Accompany a guest to your front door when they are leaving your house

Are you sure you're going? I'll get your coats and SEE you OUT.

See through:

Continue with something to the end

They had a lot of difficulties in implementing the project, but the team SAW it THROUGH successfully.

Realize someone is lying or being deceitful

The police quickly SAW THROUGH her disguise and arrested her.

See to: Deal with something

He SAW TO the arrangements and everything ran smoothly and efficiently.

Sell off:

Sell a business or part of it

They SOLD OFF their research subsidiary.

Sell something cheaply because you need the money or don't need it

She SOLD OFF her furniture before she emigrated.

Sell on:

Convince someone

We managed to SELL him ON the expansion plans.

Buy something then sell it to someone else

We buy them wholesale and SELL them ON to the public.

Sell out:

Have no more of something left because it has been bought

The tickets for the Primal Scream concert at the Brixton Academy SOLD OUT in a couple of hours.

Lose all artistic integrity in return for commercial success

Most bands SELL OUT when they sign to a major record label, and forget all their principles when pursuing chart success.

Sell up: Sell a house or business to move somewhere or do something different

We want to SELL UP and move to the country.

Send back: Return something

I SENT my food BACK because it was overcooked.

Send for: Ask someone to come and help

I had to SEND FOR a plumber because the radiator was leaking.

Send in:

Order people into a place to handle a problem

The police were SENT IN to quell the riot as the protesters had started burning cars and wrecking shops.

Write to get information

If you want to enter the competition, you have to SEND IN for an entry form.

Send off:

Expel a sports player from a match

The football striker was SENT OFF for arguing with the referee's decision.

Post a letter

I must SEND this letter OFF today otherwise it won't get there in time.

Send off for: Order something by post

I SENT OFF FOR some jeans that I liked in the catalogue.

Send out: Send something to a lot of people

They SENT OUT a mail shot to all their existing customers.

Send out for: Order takeaway food by phone

We couldn't be bothered to cook, so we SENT OUT FOR a pizza.

Send up:

Imitate/impersonate for comic effect

The mischievous schoolboy was standing at the front of the class, SENDING the teacher UP, when the teacher opened the door behind him.

Set about: Start doing something

We SET ABOUT the cleaning and got it done before lunchtime.

Set aside: Overturn a court verdict or decision

The Appeal Court SET ASIDE the guilty verdict because the evidence was unsatisfactory and declared her not guilty.

Set back: Cost

The car repairs SET me BACK eight hundred pounds.

Set forth:

State or outline an opinion

He SET FORTH his ideas in his autobiography.

Start a journey

We SET FORTH at daybreak for the summit of the mountain.

Set in: Change season noticeably

Winter has SET IN; it's started snowing.

Set off:

Explode a bomb

Terrorists SET OFF a car bomb in the city centre last night. Fortunately, no-one was hurt or killed.

Ring an alarm

The smoke SET the fire alarm OFF.

Start a journey

We SET OFF for work at seven-thirty.

Counterbalance a debt

The company SET OFF its overseas debts against it profits at home.

Set out:

Display, show

The figures are SET OUT in the council's annual report.

Start a journey

The explorers SET OUT for the South Pole yesterday morning.

Set up:

Prepare equipment, software, etc., for use

The technician SET UP the computer network perfectly.

Start a company

They SET UP a dot com company, floated it a couple of years later on the Stock Exchange and made an absolute fortune.

Settle down: Start living a fixed and routine life

After years of partying and drinking, she finally got married and SETTLED DOWN.

Settle for: Accept whatever is available

We were upset not to win and had to SETTLE FOR the second prize.

Settle in: Get used to

It took him a while to SETTLE IN when he moved to Japan.

Settle on: Agree

They couldn't agree at first on a name for their daughter, but finally SETTLED ON Alice.

Settle up: Pay a debt

Let's SETTLE UP for the dinner the other night.

Sex up: Change information to make it more attractive to the reader or listener

The government denied that they had SEXED UP the report to make the front page.

Shack up:

Live with someone when you are in a relationship.

They SHACKED UP a few months after they started going out.

Live somewhere temporarily

We had to SHACK UP with friends while our house was being decorated.

Shake down:


The police SHOOK the house DOWN looking for drugs.

Extort or cheat money from someone

He SHOOK the guy DOWN with some story about needing the money for an operation.

Shake off: Get rid of an illness

It took me ages to SHAKE OFF the cough.

Shape up:

Develop in a positive way

Things are SHAPING UP at work- everything's going well again.

Improve to reach an acceptable standard

If they don't start SHAPING UP, they're going to lose their jobs.

Shave off:

Shave completely

He has SHAVED OFF his moustache and looks much younger.

Reduce by a small amount

He SHAVED a few thousand OFF the budget for the year.

Shell out: Spend money on something, especially when you think it's too expensive

I had to SHELL OUT a hundred pounds on the dinner.

Ship off: Send someone away, often because of a problem

He was causing a lot of trouble, so they SHIPPED him OFF to another branch.

Ship out: Leave a place

If you've finished your work, I'm ready to SHIP OUT.

Shoot away: Leave somewhere quickly

He SHOT AWAY as soon as the bell rang for the end of the lesson.

Shoot back: Return quickly

I'm SHOOTING BACK home to pick up some things I forgot to bring with me.

Shoot off: Leave promptly and quickly

I'll have to SHOOT OFF as soon as the lesson finishes, otherwise I'll miss my train.

Shoot out: Go out for a short time

I'm SHOOTING OUT to the shops for a paper.

Shoot up:

Increase quickly

The share prices of internet companies have been SHOOTING UP lately.

Take (illicit) drugs intravenously

The heroin-user would SHOOT UP in shop doorways.

Damage with gun-shots

The gangsters SHOT UP the pub.

Increase quickly, grow

Johnny has SHOT UP since I last saw him.

Shop around: Look around for the best price, quality, etc.

If you SHOP AROUND, you can find some real bargains for air tickets.

Show around: Take someone to a place to show them certain parts

The estate agent SHOWED us AROUND the house but we didn't like it much.

Show in: Take someone into an office or other room

The secretary SHOWED me IN to speak to the manager.

Show off:

Behave in a way so as to attract attention

The children were SHOWING OFF and irritated me.

Display something you are proud of

He wanted to SHOW OFF his new sound system.

Make the qualities of another thing more apparent

The shirt really SHOWED OFF his new tie.

Show out: Take someone to out of a room or building

Her secretary SHOWED me OUT after the interview.

Show over: Take someone around a site

He SHOWED us OVER the scene of the accident.

Show round: Take someone to a place to show them certain parts

The guide SHOWED them ROUND the historic part of the city.

Show through: When a feeling can be seen despite attempts to conceal it

His anger SHOWED THROUGH despite his smile.

Show up:

Attend something or arrive somewhere

Very few SHOWED UP at the meeting.

Become clear or apparent

The downturn in sales SHOWED UP in the company's accounts.

Make someone feel embarrassed or ashamed

He SHOWED us UP when he arrived drunk and started arguing.

Shrug off: Disregard something, not consider it important or harmful

He SHRUGGED OFF the criticism and carried on the same way.

Shut away: Imprison or remove someone's freedom

Many people have been SHUT AWAY in psychiatric hospitals for disagreeing with the government.

Shut down:

Close a business, shop, etc.

The shop SHUT DOWN when the out-of-town supermarket opened.

Turn a computer off

You should close all programs before you SHUT a computer DOWN.

Shut in: Prevent someone from leaving

I SHUT the cat IN until it was time to go to the vet.

Shut off: Close, prevent access

They SHUT the water OFF while they did the repairs.

Shut out: Exclude

You have to SHUT your feelings OUT to deal with it.

Shut out of: Exclude someone from an activity, etc

He's been SHUT OUT OF the discussions.

Shut up:

Stop talking or making noise

He told us to SHUT UP and start working.

Close for a period of time

They SHUT the shop UP for a fortnight while they were on holiday.

Shut yourself away: Withdraw from company

She's SHUT herself AWAY to revise for her exams.

Shy away from: Avoid doing something because you lack confidence

Many learners SHY AWAY FROM using phrasal verbs.

Side with: Support someone

The lecturer SIDED WITH her students and got sacked for her pains.

Sift through: Examine a lot of things carefully

We had to SIFT THROUGH thousands of files before we found what we were looking for.

Sign away: Give away legal or property rights

He SIGNED AWAY his rights to compensation when he signed the contract.

Sign for: Write a signature on behalf on someone

My boss was out for the day, so I SIGNED her letters FOR her.

Sign in:

Register in a hotel

We SIGNED IN and went straight to bed.

Open a computer program that requires a name and password

I SIGNED IN and started chatting online.

Write your name when entering a place

You have to SIGN IN before you can enter the club.

Sign into: Open a particular computer program that requires a name and password

I SIGN INTO MSN Messenger automatically when I boot up.

Sign off:

End a message

I'll SIGN OFF now, but will write again next week.

Close a claim for unemployment benefit

I SIGNED OFF when I got my new job.

Stop doing something to leave

I'm SIGNING OFF now and going home- I'm shattered.

Give someone a letter to be away from work

My doctor SIGNED me OFF for a month with back problems.

Sign on:

Open a claim for unemployment benefit

I had to SIGN ON when I lost my job.

Agree to participate

I've SIGNED ON to help at the village fete.

Start broadcasting

He SIGNS ON the same way every show.


We've SIGNED ON two new teachers.

Sign on with: Sign a document joining or agreeing to something

He's SIGNED ON WITH Manchester United for the next three years.

Sign out:

Close a computer program that requires a name and password

I SIGNED OUT and then shut the computer down.

Sign something to show you have borrowed something

Could you SIGN those books OUT, please?

Sign out of: Close a particular computer program that requires a name and password

I SIGNED OUT OF MSN Messenger and shut the computer down.

Sign up:

Give your name to do something

I've SIGNED UP as a volunteer.


I SIGNED UP for their newsletter.

Sign with: Make a contract with

She's SIGNED WITH EMI for the next few years.

Simmer down: Become calmer, make less noise

He told them to SIMMER DOWN because they were disturbing the class next door.

Sink in: Slowly come to be understood

The truth finally SANK IN about her death when it was broadcast on TV.

Sit about: Sit and do nothing, especially when you should be working

We spent the afternoon SITTING ABOUT chatting instead of doing any work.

Sit around: Sit idly, doing nothing

They just SAT AROUND while the others did all the work.

Sit back:

Wait for something to happen without making any effort

We SAT BACK and waited for them to make the first mistake.

Relax in a chair

I SAT BACK and enjoyed the show.

Sit by: Not try to stop something

I can't SIT BY while they are punished wrongly.

Sit down: Help someone to sit

The nurse SAT me DOWN in a chair.

Sit for:

Pose for an artist or photographer

The Queen SAT FOR another official portrait.

Look after children while their parents are out

She SITS FOR her neighbors when they go out.

Sit in: Occupy a building to protest about something

The students SAT IN the Library as a protest against the increase in tuition fees.

Sit in for: Take on someone's responsibilities while they are absent

Her deputy's SITTING IN FOR her while she's away.

Sit in on: Attend as an observer

She SAT IN ON the meeting and took notes but said nothing.

Sit on:

Be on a committee

She's SAT ON the finance committee from the beginning.

To handle somebody firmly who behaves impertinently, conceitedly

If his girlfriend finds out, she'll get mad and SIT ON him.

Hold information back or keep it secret

The government has been SITTING ON the report because it was so critical.

Sit out: Not take part

I had to SIT the game OUT because I was ill.

Sit over: Eat or drink slowly

WE SAT OVER dinner discussing the plans.

Sit through: Stay till the end of something dull

I was bored and wanted to leave halfway through, but we SAT THROUGH the film.

Sit with: Reconcile different positions

It's hard to see how their new plan SITS WITH the promises they made.

Size up:

Assess a situation or person carefully

The door staff SIZED UP everyone entering the club.

Make something bigger or produce bigger products

Soft drinks manufacturers have SIZED UP their products in recent years.

Skive off: Avoid doing work or other duty

I pretended I was ill and SKIVED OFF on Monday.

Slack off: Reduce one's effort; perform with less enthusiasm and energy

Students usually begin the term well, and then SLACK OFF near the end of the semester.

Slag off: Criticize heavily

The concert was terrible and all the papers SLAGGED the band OFF.

Sleep off: Sleep in order to recover from excess alcohol, drugs, etc.

She went to bed TO SLEEP OFF the effects of the tequila.

Sleep on: Think about something

My boss said she'd have to SLEEP ON it when I asked her for a raise.

Sleep over: Spend the night at someone else's house

The au pair made tea for the friends who were SLEEPING OVER.

Sleep through: Not wake up

I SLEPT THROUGH the storm even though the wind blew some slates off the roof.

Slip out: Leave discreetly

The party was really dull so we SLIPPED OUT and went to the pub instead.

Slip up: Make an error

The waitress SLIPPED UP and didn't bring us what we had ordered.

Slob about: Be lazy, do nothing

I SLOBBED ABOUT all day as I couldn't be bothered to do any work.

Slob around: Be lazy, do nothing

I spent the day SLOBBING AROUND at home.

Slope off: Leave somewhere without letting others know

The lecture sounded really boring, so I SLOPED OFF and went to the pub.

Slow down:

Reduce speed

The car SLOWED DOWN when they saw the police.

Become less active

It is important to slow down, rest, and eat sensibly.

Slow up: Slow the progress of something

The negotiations were SLOWED UP by the arguments.

Smack of: Appear to have a negative quality

The government's decision SMACKS OF hypocrisy.

Smash down: Demolish or break something down

The police SMASHED the door DOWN to get into the house.

Smash in: Break something by hitting it repeatedly

He SMASHED the windscreen IN.

Smash up: Destroy, break into many pieces

The burglars SMASHED UP the office as there was no money to steal.

Snap off: Break a piece off something

He SNAPPED OFF a bit of chocolate from the bar and gave it to me.

Snap out of: Control negative emotions

I was feeling depressed and knew I had to SNAP OUT OF it.

Snap to it! : Do something quickly

He had taken ages so I told him to SNAP TO IT and get it finished.

Snap up: Get, acquire or buy something quickly

Collectors SNAPPED UP every copy the day it was released.

Sniff around: Look around to see how good something is or to try to find something better

I SNIFFED AROUND to see if I could find a better deal.

Sniff at: Disapprove or be scornful

A job opportunity like that is not to be SNIFFED AT.

Sniff out:

Find something be smell (usually for dogs)

Customs use dogs to SNIFF OUT illegal drugs being smuggled in.

Find out information, especially when people don't want anyone to know

Our rivals are trying to SNIFF OUT our plans for expansion.

Sober up: Stop showing the effects of alcohol or drugs

Keith SOBERED UP a bit when we left the pub and walked home.

Soldier on: Continue even when things get difficult

Life got hard for my dog when he went blind, but he just SOLDIERED ON and never complained.

Sort out: Resolve a problem

Has the firm SORTED OUT its tax problems yet?

Sound off: To express your opinions forcefully

He SOUNDED OFF about the quality of the food.

Sound out: Check what someone thinks about an issue, idea, etc.

You should SOUND her OUT to get her opinion before you go ahead with the plan.

Spark off: Cause something, usually unpleasant, to happen

The riot was SPARKED OFF by the police raid on the club.

Spark up: Light a cigarette or joint

They SPARKED UP in a no smoking area.

Speak out: Talk openly and freely

People are afraid to SPEAK OUT in oppressive political regimes.

Speak up: Talk more loudly

They couldn't hear the speaker and asked him to SPEAK UP a bit.

Spell out: Explain something in great detail

He won't understand you unless you SPELL everything OUT for him.

Spit it out: An informal way of telling someone to say something they are unwilling to say

Hurry up, SPIT IT OUT! I can't wait all day for the truth.

Spit out: Say something angrily

He SPAT her name OUT when he saw her arrive.

Split up:

Divide into groups

Hurry up, SPIT IT OUT! I can't wait all day for the truth.

Finish a relationship

He SPAT her name OUT when he saw her arrive.

Spoil for: Really want something

He's been SPOILING FOR an argument all day.

Spur on: Encourage someone to continue

The thought of the bonus SPURRED her ON to complete the work on time.

Square away: Finish or sort something out

There are few things I have to SQUARE AWAY before I can leave.

Square off: Confront someone or prepare to fight them

The two drunks SQUARED OFF and the barman had to intervene before a fight broke out.

Square off against: Confront someone or prepare to fight them

They SQUARED OFF AGAINST the police when they arrived.

Square up:

Pay back a debt

Can I SQUARE UP with you for last night?

Confront someone or prepare to fight them

The companies are SQUARING UP for a fight.

Square up to: Accept responsibility or guilt

They need to SQUARE UP TO what they did wrong if we are to make any progress.

Square with:

Match; conform to

What he said doesn't SQUARE WITH what the others said.

Check with someone that something is OK

I'll have to CHECK that WITH my boss before I can confirm it.

Squeeze up: Get more people into a space than normal or comfortable

Four of us had to SQUEEZE UP in the back of the car.

Stack up:

Put things in a pile

I STACKED UP the boxes.


Work STACKED UP while I was away on holiday.

Increase, accumulate something

I've been STACKING UP a lot of air miles.

Be logical, make sense

The budget figures don't STACK UP.

Build up the number of planes waiting to land at an airport

Planes were STACKING UP while the airport was closed after the bomb threat.

Stack up against: Be as good as something

The new model doesn't STACK UP AGAINST the old one.

Staff up: Employ someone for something specific

They haven't STAFFED the project UP yet.

Stamp out: Get rid of something

The government has started a campaign to STAMP OUT drugs in schools.

Stand about: Spend time in a place waiting or doing nothing or very little

We STOOD ABOUT drinking coffee before the lecture.

Stand around: Spend time in a place waiting or doing nothing or very little

We STOOD AROUND for an hour waiting for them to turn up.

Stand aside: Leave a position so that someone else can take it

The prime minister should STAND ASIDE and let a new leader head the party.

Stand back:

Keep a distance from something

We STOOD BACK while he lit the firework.

Try to understand something by taking a different perspective

We need to STAND BACK and look at the problem differently.

Stand by:

Support someone

He STOOD BY her throughout the trial as he believed her to be innocent.

Be ready and waiting for something to happen

The emergency services were STANDING BY waiting for the plane to land.

Stand down:

Leave a job or position so that someone else can take it

The minister announced her intention to STAND DOWN at the next election.

Finish being asked questions in a court

The judge told the witness to STAND DOWN after the questioning.

Stand for:

Accept or tolerate behavior

I'm not going to STAND FOR their rudeness any longer.

The words represented by certain initials

'WHAT do the letters BBC STAND FOR? ‘‘British Broadcasting Corporation.'

Stand in for: Substitute someone temporarily

She had to STAND IN FOR the editor while he was on holiday.

Stand out: Be extraordinary and different

She STOOD OUT from the crowd in selection and was offered the job.

Stand up:

Move from a sitting or lying down to a vertical position

Everybody STOOD UP when the judge entered the court.

Fail to keep an appointment

He agreed to meet me last night, but he STOOD me UP.

Stand up for: Defend, support

He's the kind of manager who will always STAND UP FOR his staff.

Stand up to:

Keep your principles when challenged by an authority

She STOOD UP TO the police when they tried to corrupt her.

Resist damage

This coat will STAND UP TO the roughest weather conditions.

Start off:

Make something start

They STARTED OFF the meeting with an attack on our performance.

Begin life, a career or existence

She STARTED OFF as a receptionist and ended up as the CEO.

Begin a journey

We STARTED OFF early because we knew the journey would take all day.

Make someone laugh

I was trying to be serious, but their comment STARTED me OFF.

Start off on: Help someone to start a piece or work or activity

I STARTED her OFF ON the project then left her to finish it.

Start on:

Begin to use or consume

It's time to START ON that bottle of wine.

Criticise angrily

The manager was furious and STARTED ON her staff for not trying hard enough.

Start on at: Criticise or nag

He STARTED ON AT me for being late.

Start out: Begin a journey

We STARTED OUT early in the morning.

Start out as: Begin life, existence or a career

What had STARTED OUT AS a protest quickly turned into a full-blown rebellion?

Start out to: Intend, plan

I didn't START OUT TO become the boss- it just happened.

Start over: Begin something again

It's a mess- I think we should just START OVER.

Start up:

Open a business

The firm STARTED UP on a shoestring budget.

Begin, especially sounds

There was a pause, and then the noise STARTED UP again.

When an engine starts working

The car STARTED UP first time.

Make an engine work

I STARTED the car UP.

Sit or stand upright because someone has surprised you

He STARTED UP when I entered the room and tried to hide what he was doing.

Stash away: Store or hide something in a safe place

I STASHED some money AWAY behind some books.

Stay away: Not come

He said he didn't like them coming and wanted them to STAY AWAY.

Stay away from: Avoid, not come

He told them to STAY AWAY FROM him.

Stay in: Not go out

I'm going to STAY IN and chill tonight; I can't be bothered to go out.

Stay on: Remain longer than anticipated

She STAYED ON after she graduated to do a Master's degree.

Stay out: Not go home

We STAYED OUT all night.

Stay over: Stay overnight

I STAYED OVER at a friend's house last night because of the train strike.

Stay up: Not go to bed

The children STAYED UP until way past their bedtime.

Steer clear of: Avoid

He's trying to STEER CLEAR OF his lecturer because he hasn't finished his assignment yet.

Stem from: Originate, be caused by

The trouble STEMS FROM their refusal to discuss the matter.

Step aside: Leave a job or position so that someone else can take over

Everyone thinks that the prime minister should STEP ASIDE so that someone new can lead the party into the election.

Step back: Look at something from a different perspective

We should STEP BACK and try to see how our customers will view the scheme.

Step down:

Leave a job or position so that someone can take over

The CEO STEPPED DOWN after the share price dropped.


Production is being STEPPED DOWN because demand has dropped.

Step forward: Offer help

When I had the accident, a lot of people STEPPED FORWARD to help me.

Step in: Get involved by interrupting something

I had to STEP IN when they started fighting.

Step on it: An imperative used to tell someone to go faster, especially when driving

I told the taxi driver to STEP ON IT as I was late for the meeting.

Step out: Leave a place for a very short time

They've STEPPED OUT for a cigarette.

Step to:


Don't STEP TO those guys; they'll kill you.

Chat, talk to

He tried to STEP TO her in the bar.

Step up: Increase

The police have STEPPED UP the pressure on beggars working the Underground.

Stick around: Stay in a place for some time

He's late, but I'll STICK AROUND for another few minutes before I leave.

Stick at: Continue doing something despite difficulties

She found the course very tough but she STUCK AT it and did well in the end.

Stick by:

Support someone when they are having difficulties

No one STUCK BY him when the scandal became public.

Support a plan, opinion or decision

They are STICKING BY their claims.

Stick down:

Write something quickly or without thinking about it

I couldn't answer the test so I just STUCK anything DOWN that I could remember.

Join surfaces with glue

I STUCK the label DOWN.

Stick it to:

Criticise someone

She STUCK IT TO me for turning up half an hour late.

Treat someone badly or unfairly

My boss always STICKS IT TO me when she's in a bad mood.

Stick out:

Be easily noticed

He's so much better than the others that he STICKS OUT.

Extend part of your body

He STUCK his tongue OUT at me.

Continue doing something difficult or unpleasant

I STUCK it OUT even though I hated every minute of it.

Stick out for: Demand a salary raise

We're STICKING OUT FOR a 5% increase.

Stick to:

Not change

The Prime Minister decided to STICK TO the original plan despite the criticism in the media.

Restrict or limit and not change

I STUCK TO the path and didn't take the shortcut.

Stick together: Support each other

If we don't STICK TOGETHER, things will be much worse for all of us- we need some unity.

Stick up:

Stand on end

The static electricity made my hair STICK UP.

Rob using weapons

They STUCK the bank UP and stole tens of thousands.

Stick up for: Support or defend

You have to STICK UP FOR yourself here, because no one will back you.

Stick with:

Not change something

We'd better STICK WITH our original idea.

Stay near someone

He told the children to STICK WITH him in the station.

Not be forgotten

The details have STUCK WITH me ever since.

Continue with something difficult or unpleasant

I STUCK WITH the job though I found it very stressful.

Stir up: Make trouble for someone else

He STIRRED things UP by complaining to senior management about his line manager.

Stitch up:

Sew something so that it is closed

I STITCHED UP the hole in my sleeve.

Finalize a deal

We get the contract STITCHED UP this week.

Cheat someone or make them look guilty when they aren't

The police STITCHED them UP because they couldn't find any evidence against them.

Stop around (round) : Visit someone for a short time.

Why don't you STOP AROUND my place on your way back?

Stop back: Return somewhere

I'll STOP BACK this afternoon when you're free.

Stop behind: Stay somewhere when other people leave

I STOPPED BEHIND at the end of the lecture to ask a couple of questions.

Stop by: Visit somewhere briefly or quickly

I must STOP BY the supermarket and pick up some things for dinner.

Stop in:

Stay at home

I was feeling tired so I STOPPED IN last night.

Visit briefly

I STOPPED IN at my aunt's after work.

Stop off: Break a journey

We STOPPED OFF for lunch about halfway there, then carried on driving.

Stop out: Be out late, especially when you are expected home

Her parents were annoyed because she STOPPED OUT all night.

Stop over: Stay somewhere when on a journey

I STOPPED OVER in Bangkok for a couple of days on my way back from Tokyo.

Stop up:

Stay up late

I STOPPED UP last night watching the film.

Fill or block something

I STOPPED UP the bottle with a cork.

Storm off: Leave a place angrily

They had a row and he STORMED OFF.

Storm out:

Leave a place angrily

He lost his temper and STORMED OUT OF the bar. (If you don't mention the place, you can just say 'He stormed out')

Stow away:

Hide in a vehicle to travel without people knowing

She STOWED AWAY on the plane but was caught when it landed.

Store something in a safe place

We STOWED it AWAY in the garage to keep it dry.

Straighten out:

Make something straight

I'm always having to STRAIGHTEN OUT the wires connected to my computer.

Deal with a problem

I had to STRAIGHTEN OUT things after the mess they had made.

Make clear and resolve

There are a few issues I'd like to STRAIGHTEN OUT first.

Improve someone's behavior

Starting work has STRAIGHTENED him OUT and calmed him down.

Straighten up:

Stand straight

She STRAIGHTENED UP when her boss walked in.


I STRAIGHTENED UP the room before they arrived.

Strike back: Attack, take action against someone who has hurt you

At first, he ignored them, but when things got very serious, he STRUCK BACK.

Strike down:


A hit man STRUCK him DOWN as he entered the building. (This verb is often used in the passive- He was struck down as he entered the building.)

Make someone ill

I was STRUCK DOWN with food poisoning. (This verb is mostly used in the passive.)

Disallow a law, decision, etc

The Appeal Court STRUCK DOWN the lower court's ruling.

Strike off: Remove someone's professional licence to practice

The Medical Council STRUCK him OFF for malpractice.

Strike on: Have a good idea

I STRUCK ON the solution when I was out with my dog.

Strike out:

Start doing something new and different

After doing the same job for five years, I decided to STRIKE OUT and change careers.

Try to hit someone

When he pushed me, I STRUCK OUT.

Start going towards a place

We got up early and STRUCK OUT for our final destination.

Cross writing out

As they arrived, I STRUCK their names OUT on the list I had.

Strike up:

Start (conversation, relationship)

He STRUCK UP a conversation with me in the bar.

Start performing music

The band STRUCK UP and everyone turned to listen.

Strike upon: Have a good idea

It took us a long time to STRIKE UPON a solution.

String along:

Deceive someone for a long time

They kept saying they were interested, but they were just STRINGING me ALONG.

Accompany someone because you haven't got anything better to do

Is it alright if I STRING ALONG with you tonight?

String out: Make something last as long as possible

There was half an hour to go, so I STRUNG the questions OUT as long as I could.

String together:

Put words together into a coherent text

I was so nervous in the interview that I could hardly STRING a sentence TOGETHER.

String up: Hang somebody

The rebels STRUNG the soldiers UP after they captured them.

Stub out: Extinguish a cigarette

He STUBBED his cigarette OUT in a saucer because he couldn't find an ashtray.

Stumble across: Find something accidentally

You'll never guess what I STUMBLED ACROSS when I was packing my stuff.

Stumble upon: Find something accidentally

I STUMBLED UPON these photos when I was clearing my room up.

Stump up: Pay for something

He didn't want to pay me back, but I got him to STUMP UP in the end.

Suck in: Become involved in something unpleasant

Everyone around her was taking drugs and she got SUCKED IN.

Suck into: Become involved in something unpleasant

The country got SUCKED INTO the war.

Suck up to: Ingratiate yourself with someone

He's always SUCKING UP TO our boss.

Sum up: Summarize

At the end of the lecture, she SUMMED UP the main points again.

Summon up: Get the energy or courage to do something

Andrea couldn't SUMMON UP the enthusiasm to apply for the position.

Suss out: Come to understand

It took her ages to SUSS OUT what was going on.

Swan about: Move in a dramatic or affected manner

He SWANNED ABOUT at the party.

Swan around: Move in a dramatic or affected manner

She SWANNED AROUND trying to impress people.

Swan in: Enter in a dramatic or attention-seeking manner

He SWANNED IN surrounded by photographers.

Swan off: Leave somewhere in a defiant or pompous manner

He didn't like the way the spoke to him so he SWANNED OFF angrily.

Swear by: Have great confidence in

I SWEAR BY their products- they're the best on the market.

Swear down: Promise that something is true

He SWORE DOWN that he hadn't done it.

Sweep through:

Pass easily, succeed

She SWEPT THROUGH the exams.

Move quickly through

The disease SWEPT THROUGH the population.

Swing around:

Change your opinion quickly

They SWUNG AROUND to our idea after reading the press reports.

Turn around quickly

He SWUNG ROUND to see what had made the noise.

Swing at: Try to hit

He SWUNG AT me but missed.

Swing by: Visit a person or place on your way somewhere

I will SWING BY this afternoon and pick you up.

Swing round:

Change your opinion quickly

They were against it at first then SWUNG ROUND and supported it.

Turn around quickly

She SWUNG ROUND and greeted them.

Syphon off:

Take business, support or votes from someone

The candidate SYPHONED OFF a lot of votes because of his anti-war stance.

Divert money illegally

The minister had been SYPHONING OFF funds from his department for years.

Phrasal Verbs| Grammar| Phrasal Verbs to HOME PAGE

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