OWL at Purdue Logo

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Contributors: Allen Brizee.

Provides an overview and lists of phrasal/two part verbs.

Overview of Two-Part (Phrasal) Verbs (Idioms)

Many verbs in English are followed by an adverb or a preposition (also called a particle), and these two-part verbs, also called phrasal verbs, are different from verbs with helpers. The particle that follows the verb changes the meaning of the phrasal verb in idiomatic ways:

Some particles can be separated from the verb so that a noun or pronoun can be inserted, and some particles can't be separated from the verb. In addition, some phrases are intransitive, meaning they cannot take a direct object.

Unfortunately, there is usually no indicator whether an idiomatic phrase is separable, inseparable, or intransitive. In most cases the phrases must simply be memorized. Below is a partial list of each kind of phrase.

Contributors: Allen Brizee.

Provides an overview and lists of phrasal/two part verbs.

Separable Phrasal Verbs

add up
back up
cause to move backwards; support
blow up
cause to explode; destroy by explosives
break down
analyze; list the parts of separately
bring about
cause to happen
bring off
bring on
bring out
publish; emphasize
bring over
bring to
bring up
raise; care for from childhood
brush out
brush the inside of
burn down
destroy by burning
burn up
consume by fire
buy out
by the other person's share of a business
buy up
buy the whole supply of
call off
cancel; order away
call up
telephone; summon for military service
calm down
become calm
carry on
carry out
fulfill; complete; accomplish; perform
carry over
carry; continue at another time or place
cheer up
cause to become cheerful
chew up
chew thoroughly
chop up
chop into small pieces
clean off
clear the surface of
clean out
clean the inside of
clean up
clear out
clear the inside of
clear up
clarify; clear the inside of
close down
close permanently
close up
close temporarily
count in
count out
count up
calculate; count; add to a total
cross out
cut off
interrupt; sever; amputate
cut out
eliminate; delete
cut down
reduce in quantity
draw up
write; compose (a document)
dress up
put clothes on; adorn
dust out
dust the inside of
eat up
eat completely
figure out
interpret; understand
figure up
fill in
complete (a printed form)
fill out
complete (a printed form)
fill up
fill completely (a container)
find out
fix up
repair; arrange in a suitable manner
get across
cause to be understood
give back
give out
distribute; announce
give up
surrender something
hand down
deliver; pronounce formally; leave as an inheritance
hand over
yield control of
hang up
have on
be dressed in
have over
entertain someone informally at one's home
hold off
delay; restrain
hold up
delay; rob; threaten with a weapon
keep up
continue; keep the same pace
leave out
let down
let out
release from confinement; make larger (in sewing)
light up
light; illuminate thoroughly
live down
live in such a way as to cause something to be forgotten
make over
move over
move to the side
pass out
pass up
not take advantage of (as an opportunity)
pass on
pay back
pay off
discharge a debt completely; give someone his final pay
pick up
come to meet an escort; lift with hands or fingers; learn casually;initiate an association publicly
play down
play up
point out
pull down
pull in a downward direction; raze
push across
cause to be understood or accepted
put off
put on
dress in; deceive or fool
put up
preserve (food); receive as an overnight guest
quiet down
be quiet
ring up
the telephone
rinse off
rinse the surface of
rinse out
rinse the inside of
rule out
run down
trace; disparage; hit with a vehicle
run off
cause to depart; reproduce mechanically
save up
see through
complete; in spite of difficulties
see off
accompany someone to the beginning of a trip
send back
send to a place where formerly located
send over
send to where someone is
set up
show off
exhibit ostentatiously
shut off
cause to cease functioning
slow up
cause to move more slowly
spell out
enumerate; state in detail
stand up
fail to keep an appointment with
sweep out
sweep the inside of
take back
return; retract a statement
take down
remove from a high position; write from dictation
take in
understood; fool; deceive; make smaller (in sewing)
take over
take; assume command of
tear down
tear up
tear into small pieces
tell off
scold; reprimand
think over
think through
consider from beginning to end
think up
create; invent
throw away
throw over
tie up
tie securely or tight
tire out
cause to be exhausted
touch up
try on
put on a garment to verify the fit
try out
turn down
refuse; lower the volume
turn out
produce; force into exile, extinguish (a light)
wash off
wash the surface of
wash out
wash the inside of
wear out
use until no longer usable; tire greatly
wind up
finish, tighten the spring of a watch or machine
wipe off
wipe the surface of
wipe out
wipe the inside of; decimate
work out
write down
write out
write down every detail; spell out
write up
compose; prepare (a document)
Contributors: Allen Brizee.

Provides an overview and lists of phrasal/two part verbs.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

back out of
desert; fail to keep a promise
bear down on
lean on; browbeat
bear on
have to do with
bear up under
break in on
break into
call for
come to get; require
care for
like; guard; supervise; maintain
carry on with
catch up with
cover the distance between oneself and
check up on
examine; verify
come across
find accidentally
come along with
accompany; make progress
come by
find accidentally
come down with
become ill with
come out with
utter; produce
come up with
utter; produce
count on
rely on
cut in on
disagree with
cause illness or discomfort to
do away with
do without
deprive oneself of
drop in at/on
visit casually without planning
drop out of
leave; quit
face up to
fall behind in
lag; not progress at required pace
fall back on
use for emergency purpose
fall out with
quarrel with
fill in for
substitute for
get ahead of
surpass; beat
get around
evade; avoid
get away with
do without being caught or punished
get by with
manage with a minimum of effort
get down to
become serious about; consider
get in
enter (a vehicle)
get off
descend from; leave
get on
enter (a vehicle); mount
get on with
proceed with
get through with
terminate, finish
go back on
desert; fail to keep (a promise)
go for
like a great deal
go in for
be interested in; participate in
go on with
go over
go with
harmonize with; look pleasing together
go without
abstain from
hang around
remain idly in the vicinity of
hear from
receive a communication from
hear of
learn about (sometimes accidentally)
hit on
discover accidentally
hold on to
grasp tightly
hold out against
keep at
persevere at
keep to
persist in; continue
keep up with
maintain the pace of
lie down on
evade; fail to do
live on
support or sustain oneself by means of
live up to
maintain the standard demanded of
look after
take care of
look back on
remember nostalgically
look down on
feel superior to
look forward to
look up to
respect; admire
make up for
compensate for
pass on
pick on
tease; bully
play up to
flatter for personal advantage
put up with
read up on
search out information on
run against
compete against in an election
run away with
leave; escape from
run for
campaign for
see about
consider; arrange
see to
arrange; supervise
settle on
decide on; choose
stand for
represent; permit
stand up for
support; demand
stand up to
stick to
stick up for
support; defend
take after
talk back to
answer impolitely
talk over
tell on
report misbehavior to authority
touch on
mention briefly
turn into
wait on
wait up for
not go to bed while waiting for
watch out for
be careful for
Contributors: Allen Brizee.

Provides an overview and lists of phrasal/two part verbs.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

back down
retreat from a position in an argument
back out
desert; fail to keep a promise
back up
move backwards
bear up
blow in
drop in to visit unexpectedly
blow over
pass without doing harm
blow up
explode; lose one's temper
call up
calm down
become calm
carry on
continue as before; misbehave
catch on
catch up
cover the distance between oneself and a moving goal
check up
check out
leave; pay one's bill
cheer up
become cheerful
clear out
clear up
become clear
close down
close permanently
close up
close temporarily
came about
come along
accompany; make progress
come back
come by
visit someone in his home
come out
appear; make a social debut
come over
come to someone's house, to where someone is
come through
come to
regain consciousness
cut in
die away
fade; diminish
die down
fade; diminish
die off/out
disappear; become extinct
dress up
don fancy or unusual clothes
drive back
return by car
drop in
visit someone casually without planning
drop out
abandon some organized activity; leave; quit
drop over
visit someone casually
fall behind
not progress at required pace

fall off

decrease; lose weight
fall through
fail; not be accomplished
fill in
find out
fly back
return by air
fly over
fly to where someone is
get ahead
make progress
get along
have a friendly relationship
get around
circulate; move about
get away
get by
manage; either just barely or with a minimum of effort
get in
get off
descend from leave
get on
enter (a vehicle); mount (a horse, etc.)
get on/along
progress; be compatible
get up
get through
give out
become exhausted
give up
surrender; fail to finish
go back
go off
go on
happen; continue
go out
stop burning; leave one's residence
go over
go; succeed
grow up
hang around
remain idly; dawdle
hang up
replace a telephone receive on its hook
hold on
grasp tightly; persevere; wait while telephoning
hold out
continue to resist; persevere; persist
keep on
keep up
maintain the required pace or standard; continue
let up
diminish in intensity
lie down
look on
be a spectator
make out
progress; succeed
make up
become reconciled
move over
move to the side
pan out
turn out well; be successful
pass out
become unconscious
pass on
pick up
grow; increase
pull in
pull out
pull through
survive (barely)
ride over
ride to where someone is
run away
escape; leave; leave quickly without permission
run down
slowly lose power so as to stop functioning
run off
depart running; drain
sell out
sell the ownership or responsibility
settle up
pay one's bills or debts
show off
boast by words or actions
show up
arrive; appear unexpectedly
shut up
stop talking
slow up
reduce speed
stand by
wait; be prepared to assist
stand up
stand; rise from sitting; last; endure
stay over
remain at someone's house overnight or longer
step aside
move to one side
take off
leave the ground
take over
assume command
talk back
answer impolitely
throw up
turn around
turn so that one is facing another direction
turn in
go to bed
turn out
succeed; come; appear, as at a public meeting
turn up
arrive; be found unexpectedly
wait up
remain awake in anticipation
wake up
walk back
return on foot to where one was
walk over
walk to where someone is
wash out
fade or disappear from washing
watch out
be careful
wear off
fade; disappear through use or time
wear out
become unusable through use; become used up
work out
be successful