1. Phrasal verbs: the basics

A. What are phrasal verbs?

Phrasal verbs are verbs that consist of a verb and a particle.

verb particle example meaning
look up You can look up any new words in your dictionary. You can find the meaning of any new words in your dictionary.
get throught I tried to phone her but I couldn't get throught. I tried to phone her but I couldn't get a connection.
make out I just can't make Jim out at all. I just can't understand Jim's behaviour.

Particles are small words which you already know as prepositions or adverbs. Here are some of the most common phrasal verb particles: about (a)round at away back down for in into off on out over through to up

B. What do I need to know about phrasal verbs?

First you need to know the meaning of the whole phrasal verb as a unit. The mini dictionary in this book will help you. For example, look means to use your eyes and up means the opposite of down, but the phrasal verb look up can have several different meanings:

Look the word up in the dictionary. [look up = search for information in a book/computer] I’ll look you up next time I’m in London. [look up = visit someone you have not seen for a long time] Things are looking up. [look up = improve]

Next you need to know the grammar patterns of phrasal verbs, e.g. Whether the verb takes an object. The table shows the way the grammar patterns are shown in this book and in many dictionaries. Note that sth means something; sb means someone.

grammar pattern comment example
eat out the verb is used without an object We were too tired to cook at home so we decided to eat out. [eat in a restaurant] Not: We decided to eat out a meal
bring back sth or bring sth back the verb must have a non-human object This photograph brings back happy memories. [makes me remember or think about something from the past] Not: This photograph brings back my sister
ask out sb or ask sb out the verb must have a human object I‘d love to ask Sally out. [invite Sally to go to a place like a cinema or a restaurant] Not: I’d love to ask my dog out.
look after sb/sth the object can be either human or non-human I'll look after the baby while you’re cooking. Will you look after my bike while I’m away?
ring sb back the object must come before the particle I'll ring you back later. [phone you again] Not: I'll ring back you.
look after sb/sth the object must come after the particle Can you look after the dog while l’m away? Not: Can you look the dog after while I’m away?
drop off sb/sth or drop sb/sth off the object can be before or after the particle I dropped off the package at her house. [delivered/left] I dropped the package off at her house.


Chania is a city on the island of Crete.


Crete is a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea.


You can reach Chania airport from all over Europe.