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Phrasal Verbs


Phrasal verbs are expressions with two or more words that are used as verbs. They have a verb and one or more small words, eg "turn up the volume". The verb has a different meaning when it's part of a phrasal verb.

Sometimes the object can go at the end of the phrasal verb as well as before the small word; eg put your coat on, put on your coat (case I). Sometimes it can only go between, not at the end; eg he fell off a ladder (case II). In case I phrasal verbs pronouns always go before the small word; eg turn it off.

How many phrasal verbs can you find in this text?

Friday the 13th started badly for Tom, his car broke down on the way to work, and as soon as he arrived at the office he was called up to see the chairman. As Tom entered the chairman looked up and put down his pen. "I'd like you to sort out all these late payers, the firm can't afford to put up with them any longer" he said, passing Tom a large computer printout.

Tom went back to his desk and asked his secretary if she would run off three copies of a report. Sitting down, he carried on with his crossword until the junior, Sam, passed by. "Sam, I've an important job for you here; I know I can count on you not to let me down" he said, handing over the chairman's printout.

At lunchtime Tom went to the pub as usual, he sat mulling over the weekend visit of his mother-in-law. He knew he couldn't just boot her out but wondered why they didn't hit it off? He was thankful that his wife didn't take after her mother. He remembered that he had to look in on his own mother some time.

Tom had discussed setting up his own business with some of his colleagues, he'd been taking stock and had to face up to the fact that he was going nowhere with this firm. And yet the idea of going it alone filled him with fear. He'd just have to risk losing face and give up the idea. Perhaps he'd look up some of his friends from college to see if they knew of any openings.

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Try to match some phrasal verbs from the text to the definitions below.

  • abandon / surrender (hope of)
  • review or analyse a situation
  • fail to achieve what's expected, disappoint
  • be embarrassed or humiliated
  • be good friends
  • think about / ponder
  • fail, go wrong, stop working
  • pass or give to
  • evict / eject forcefully
  • start

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Give definitions for the others.

  • sort out
  • put up with
  • run off
  • carry on
  • count on
  • call up
  • take after
  • look in on
  • face up to
  • go it alone
  • look up

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