Phrasal verbsWe often use with the following verbs:in up on away round about over by out off down back through along overSo you can say – put up – get on – take off. These are phrasal verbs.
We often use out/off/up etc. with verbs of movement.• Get on• Drive off• Come back• Turn around
But often the second word (out/off/up) gives a special meaning to the verb.• Break down• Look out• Take off• Get up• Get on• Get by
Sometimes a phrasal verb is followed by a preposition. For example:• Run away from• Keep up with• Look forward to• Cut down on
everyday expressionsEveryday spoken language is full of fixed expressions that are not necessarily difficult to understand (their meaning may be quite transparent) but which have a fixed form which does not change. These have to be learnt as whole expressions. These expressions are often hard to find in dictionaries, so listen out for them.
Conversation-building expressionsThese are some common expressions that help to modify or organise what we are saying. There are many more expressions like these.
expression meaning/functions•As I was saying. I •takes the conversationhaven’t seen her for ages. back to an earlier point.•As I/you say, well have •repeats and confirmsto get there early to get a something someone hasseat. already said.•Talking of skiing, •starting a new topic butwhatever happened to Bill linking it to the presentJakes? one.•If you ask me, shes •if you want my opinionheading for trouble. (even if no-one has asked for it)
•That reminds me, I •something in thehavent rung George yet. conversation reminds you of something•Come to think of it, did important.he give me his number •something in theafter all? I think he may conversation makes youhave forgotten. realise there may be a problem/query about something.
Key wordsSome everyday expressions can be grouped around key words. This and that, for example, occur in several expressions:
This is it. [this is We talked aboutan important this and that, orpoint] this, that and the other. [various unimportant THIS / THAT matters]Thats it. [thats So, thats that,the last thing, then. [that isweve finished] agreed, settled, finalised]
Common expressions for modifying statements• If the worst comes to the worst, well have to cancel the holiday. [if the situation gets very bad indeed]• If all else fails, we could fax them. [if nothing else succeeds]• What with one thing and another, I havent had time to reply to her letter. [because of a lot of different circumstances]• When it comes to restaurants, this towns not that good. [in the matter of restaurants]
• As far as Im concerned, we can eat at any time. [as far as it affects me / from my point of view]• As luck would have it, she was out when we called. [as a result of bad luck]
Similes - as...as... I like ..As ... as... similes are easy to understand. If you see the phrase as dead as a doornail, you dont need to know what a doornail is, simply that the whole phrase means totally dead.• But, remember, fixed similes are not neutral; they are usually informal/colloquial and often humorous. So, use them with care, and keep them generally as part of your receptive vocabulary
Creating a picture in your mind can often help you remember the simile:• as blind as a bat• as thin as a rake• as strong as an ox• as quiet as a mouse
Some can be remembered as pairs of opposites.• as heavy as lead z as light as a feather• as drunk as a lord z as sober as a judge• as black as night z as white as snow
Some can be remembered by sound patterns.• as brown as a berry• as good as gold• as cool as a cucumber
Some other useful as...as... phrases.• The bed was as hard as iron and I couldnt sleep.• Ill give this plant some water. The soils as dry as a bone.• Hes as mad as a hatter. He crossed the Atlantic in a bathtub.• She told the teacher, as bold as brass, that his lessons were boring.
• Youll have to speak up; hes as deaf as a post.• Dont worry. Using the computers as easy as falling off a log.• She knew the answer as quick as a flash.• When I told him, his face went as red as a beetroot.
Sometimes the second part can change the meaning of the first.• The Princesss skin was as white as snow. [beautifully white]• When he saw it, his face went as white as a sheet. [pale with fear/horror]• The fish was bad and I was as sick as a dog. [vomiting]• She ran off with my money; I felt as sick as a parrot. [bad feeling of disillusionment/frustration]
Like ...• My plan worked like a dream, and the problem was soon solved.• Be careful the boss doesnt see you; she has eyes like a hawk.• No wonder hes fat. He eats like a horse and drinks like a fish.• Did you sleep well? Yes, thanks, like a log.
• Sorry, I forgot to ring him again. Ive got a head like a sieve!• The boss is like a bear with a sore head today. [in a very bad temper]• She goes around like a bull in a china shop. [behaving in a very clumsy, insensitive way]• Criticising the government in his presence is like a red rag to a bull. [certain to make him very angry]
BinomialsBinomials are expressions (often idiomatic) where two words are joined by a conjunction (usually and). The order of the words is usually fixed. It is best to use them only in informal situations, with one or two exceptions.
• odds and ends: small, unimportant things, e.g. Lets get the main things packed; we can do the odds and ends later.• give and take: a spirit of compromise, e.g. Every relationship needs a bit of give and take to be successful.
You can often tell something is abinomial because of the sound pattern. • Tears are part and parcel of growing up. [part of / belong to] • The boss was ranting and raving at us. [shouting / very angry] • The old cottage has gone to rack and ruin. [ruined / decayed]
• Hes so prim and proper at work. [rather formal and fussy]• The hotel was a bit rough and ready. [poor standard]• She has to wine and dine important clients. [entertain]
Other times, the clue is that the words are near-synonyms. • You can pick and choose; its up to you. [have a wide choice] • My English is progressing in leaps and bounds. [big jumps]
• Its nice to have some peace and quiet. [peace/calm]• The doctor recommended some rest and recreation. [relaxation]• First and foremost, you must work hard. [first / most importantly]
Many grammar words combine to form binomials.• There are cafes here and there. [scattered round]• Weve had meetings on and off. [occasionally]• Ive been running back and forth all day. [to and from somewhere]
To and fro can be used just like back and forth.• He is unemployed and down and out. [without a home or money]• Shes better now, and out and about again. [going out]• She ran up and down the street. [in both directions]
Your language probably has many binomials. Make sure those which look similar in English have the same word order as your language. These four are very neutral binomials and can be used in formal or informal situations. Try translating them.• A black and white film, please.• Ladies and gentlemen, your attention, please!• She ran back and forth.• There was hot and cold water in every room.
Binomials linked by words other than and.• Youve got your sweater on back to front. [the wrong way]• He wont help her; shell have to sink or swim. [survive or fail]• Slowly but surely, I realised the boat was sinking. [gradually]• Sooner or later, youll learn your lesson. [some time / day]
• She didnt want to be just friends; it had to be all or nothing.• Well Im sorry, thats all I can offer you; take it or leave it.• Its about the same distance as from here to Dublin, give or take a few miles. [perhaps a mile or two more, or a mile or two less]
Idioms connected with problematic situationsidiom literal phraseto be in a fix = be in difficultyto be in a tight corner = be in a situation that is hard to get out ofto be in a muddle = be confused/mixed up(these three go together as all having be + in + a)
Reacting in situationsTwo pairs of more or less opposite idioms.• to take a back seat [not do anything; letothers act instead]zto take the bull by the horns [act positively to face and attack the problem]
• to keep ones cards close to ones chest[hold back information]zto lay ones cards on the table [be very open, state exactly what your position is]
Idioms related to situations based on get• This has to be done by next week; we must get our act together before its too late.[organise ourselves to respond; informal]• We need a proper investigation to get to the bottom of things. [find the true explanation for the state of affairs]• Its quite difficult to get people to sit up and take notice.[make them pay attention]• Im trying to get a grasp of whats happening; its not easy.[find out / understand]
Changes and stages in situations • The tide has turned for us; better days are ahead • We can see light at the end of the tunnel at last.
• Im afraid weve just come to a dead end with our plans.• I think Ive reached a turning-point in my career.
Some idioms connected with easing the situation • The government and the unions have buried the hatchet for the time being. [made peace / stopped fighting each other] • All that trouble last year was just swept under the carpet in the end. [ignored /deliberately forgotten, without solving it] • You should say sorry. It would go a long way. [would help a lot]
Expressions with do and makeThe next seven units deal with phrasal verbs and other expressions based on common verbs.Phrasal verbs are basic verbs which can combine with different prepositions (or particles) tomake verbs with completely new - and often unguessable - meanings. Phrasal verbs are used more in speaking than in writing. There is almost always a more formal way of conveyingthe same idea. In this unit we look at phrasal verbs formed from do and make.
phrasal verb meaningdo with need, wantdo without manage withoutdo away with abolishdo out of prevent from having (by deceit)
phrasal verb Meaningmake for move in the direction ofmake of think (opinion)make off leave hurriedlymake up for compensate formake up to be nice to in order to get s.t.
• Some phrasal verbs have a number of different meanings; do up can mean not only fasten‘ but also renovate and put into a bundle.• Similarly, make out can mean claim, manage tosee and understand as well as write or complete; make up can mean compose orinvent; it can also mean constitute or form, put cosmetics on, prepare by mixing together various ingredients and make something more numerous or complete.
There are a lot of other common expressions based on do and make.You do: the housework / some gardening / the washing-up / homework / your best /the shopping /the cooking / business with ..., and so on.
You make: arrangements / an agreement / a suggestion / a decision / a cup of tea / war /an attempt / a phone call / the best of.. . / an effort / an excuse / a mistake / a bed / a profit / a loss / love / the most of / a noise / a good or bad impression / a success of ... / a point of ... / allowances for ... / a gesture / a face / fun of ... / a fuss of ... / a go (a success) of ..., and so on.
The more collocations with do and make you learn, the more you will get a feel for thedifference between the two verbs.
Expressions with bring and takeHere are some common phrasal verbs with bring. Each is exemplified in a typical spoken sentence and a more formal equivalent is provided in brackets.
• I was brought up in the country. [raise]• Dont give up. Im sure youll bring it off. [succeed]• Cold winds always bring on her cough. [cause to start]• The strike brought about a change of government. [cause to happen]• I hope they dont bring back capital punishment. [re-introduce]
Here are some common phrasal verbs with take.• Doesnt he take after his father! [resemble]• I wish I could take back what I said to her. [withdraw]• I find it very hard to take in his lectures. [absorb, understand]• She was completely taken in by him. [deceive]• Sales have really taken off now. [start to improve]
• The plane took off two hours late. [left the ground]• Shes very good at taking off her teacher. [imitate]• Well have to take on more staff if were to take on more work. [employ; undertake]• She took to him at once. [form an immediate liking for]• When did you take up golf? [start (a hobby)]
Here are some other common idioms with bring and take.• The new regulations will be brought into force in May ... [become law]• His research brought some very interesting facts to light. [revealed]• Matters were brought to a head when Pat was sacked. [reached a point where changes had to be made]• Its better that everything should be brought into the open. [made public]
• His new girlfriend has really brought out the best in him. [been good for him]• Dont let him take advantage of you. [unfairly use superiority]• After 20 years of marriage they take each other for granted. [dont appreciate each others qualities]• I took it for granted youd come. [assumed]• She immediately took control of the situation. [started organising]• His words took my breath away. [surprised]
• She loves taking care of small children. [looking after, caring for]• We took part in a demonstration last Saturday. [participated]• The story takes place in Mexico. [happens]• He doesnt seem to take pride in his work. [draw satisfaction from]• Mother always takes everything in her stride. [copes calmly]
Expressions with getGet seems to be used all the time in spoken English. It has the following basic meanings:• receive, obtain or buy something, e.g. Please get me a newspaper when youre in town;I got a letter from John today; She got top marks in her exam.• show a change in position -move or be moved, e.g. How are you getting home tonight?• show a change in state - become or make, e.g. We are all getting older if not wiser.
Get also has a number of other more specific meanings.• Its my turn to get dinner tonight. [prepare a meal]• I dont get it. Why did he speak like that? [understand]• His behaviour really gets me at times. [annoy]
phrasal verb meaningget at reach, findget away with do something wrong without being caughtget behind fail to produce something at the right timeget by manage (financially)get down depressget down to begin to give serious attention toget on manage
get on advance, developget out of avoid a responsibilityget over recover fromget round spreadget through come to a successful endget through use up all of• get up to to do (especially something bad)
Here are some other expressions based on get.You seem to have got out of bed on the wrong side today. [be in a bad mood]• The meeting got off to a good had start with JRS speech. [started well/badly]• Im organising a little get-together. I hope you can come. [informal meeting/party]• When their relationship ended he got rid of everything that reminded him of her. [threw away, destroyed]• Im going to get my own back on her somehow. [take my revenge]