150 High Frequency Phrasal Verbs: L – W

let down

disappoint somebody because you don’t do what they hoped or expected you would do

๐Ÿ”น  George is very reliable – he has never let me down.

๐Ÿ”น  Ursula let her parents down by cheating in the exam.

๐Ÿ”น  Our last car never let us down  – it never had to go to the garage.

let in

allow somebody access to a place

๐Ÿ”น  The dogs are out in the garden. If it starts to rain, can you let them in?

๐Ÿ”น  It’s a very exclusive party. If you are not on the list, they will not let you in.

lie down

put yourself in a horizontal position

๐Ÿ”น  I have a headache so I’m going to lie down for a bit.

NB. This is an irregular verb: lie down — lay down — lain down

๐Ÿ”น The dog was tired so it lay down in front of the fire and went to sleep.

look after

take care of, be responsible for somebody or something

๐Ÿ”น  Can you look after my dog while I’m on holiday?

๐Ÿ”น  Meg is an experienced babysitter. She has looked after children of all ages.

๐Ÿ”น  Who looks after the company’s accounts?

look forward to

be excited about something that is going to happen or that you are going to do

๐Ÿ”น  I’m really looking forward to the weekend. My best friend is coming to stay.

๐Ÿ”น  We’re looking forward to seeing you.

๐Ÿ”น  He isn’t  looking forward to his job interview.

NB.  Remember to use the gerund after ‘to’, not the infinive: look forward to doING/havING, etc

look into

investigate something

๐Ÿ”น  They are looking into how the teenager was able to hack the bank accounts.

NB. It doesn’t have to refer to a crime, it could simply refer to a problem.

๐Ÿ”น   I don’t know why they haven’t called you yet, but I’ll look into it.

look up

search for a piece of information (online or in a dictionary or encyclopaedia, etc)

๐Ÿ”น  I looked up the train times on my phone.

๐Ÿ”น  Do you usually look up new words in a bilingual or a monolingual dictionary?

miss out

omit somebody or something

๐Ÿ”น  You would probably have passed your exam if you hadn’t missed out question five. 

๐Ÿ”น  There aren’t nine of us, there are ten of us; you missed yourself out! (= you forgot to count yourself)

mix up

confuse two things or people

๐Ÿ”น  English learners often mix up the words ‘bored’ and ‘boring’.

๐Ÿ”น The two brothers are so alike. I’m always mixing them up.

nod off

fall asleep, especially unintentionally

๐Ÿ”น  I nodded off and missed the end of the film.

๐Ÿ”น  The accident was caused by a driver nodding off at the wheel.

๐Ÿ”น Something woke me in the middle of the night but I nodded off again quickly.

pay off

bring good consequences, be worthwhile

๐Ÿ”น  All Helena’s hard work paid off – she got the promotion she wanted.

pick up (1)

go and get somebody or something, collect somebody or something

๐Ÿ”น  My uncle is going to pick us up at the airport.

๐Ÿ”น  Can you pick up my drycleaning?

pick up (2)

lift somebody or something up from a surface

๐Ÿ”น  Stop picking up the cat! She doesn’t like it.

๐Ÿ”น I want you to pick up all your toys and put them back in your bedroom

pick up (3)

learn gradually, with little effort

๐Ÿ”น We picked up a few useful Japanese phrases on our trip to Tokyo.

plug in

connect something to the electricity supply

๐Ÿ”น Where can I plug in my hairdryer?

put away

return something to the place it is normally kept (eg. in a cupboard)

๐Ÿ”น When you have finished with the sugar, put it away please.

put down

place something that you have been holding onto a surface, eg. a table or floor

๐Ÿ”น Put your sister down!

๐Ÿ”น I was glad to get home and put all my shopping down.

put off

make somebody stop liking something or make them not want to do something

๐Ÿ”น The conversation was putting me off my food.

๐Ÿ”น Her teaching methods put a lot of the students off. They didn’t want to study chemistry anymore.

put on

start wearing

๐Ÿ”น It was snowing so I put on some warm boots.

It can be used with things other than clothes or shoes:

๐Ÿ”น She put on her makeup.

๐Ÿ”น It’s very sunny so put on some sun cream.

put out


๐Ÿ”น Luckily it didn’t take the fire brigade long to put out the fire.

put up with

tolerate somebody or something that is unpleasant

๐Ÿ”น I went into the garden as I didn’t want to put up with everybody arguing.

๐Ÿ”น I don’t know how you put up with your boss. He’s so opinionated!

run into

meet somebody by chance

๐Ÿ”น I ran into Nick, an old school friend, the other day. He hasn’t changed a bit!

(Synonym: bump into)

run out (of something)

have none or nothing left

๐Ÿ”น We’ve run out of eggs. Can you go and buy some?

๐Ÿ”น You need to hurry – time’s running out.

see to

deal with somebody

๐Ÿ”น You make dinner and I’ll see to getting the kids bathed.

๐Ÿ”น Who saw to sending out the party invitations? (= who was in charge of)

NB. โš ๏ธ Remember to use the gerund after ‘to’, not the infinive: see to doING/havING, etc

sell out (of)

If a product sells out then all the stock is finished, every item is sold.

๐Ÿ”น The summer dress was so popular, it sold out within two days.

๐Ÿ”น The bakery had sold out of doughnuts by the time I got there.

set off

start a journey (usually a long one)

๐Ÿ”น There will be lots of traffic so we should set off early.

set up

start a business or organisation

๐Ÿ”น When Belinda leaves university she is going to set up her own business.

show around/round

give somebody a guided tour

๐Ÿ”น You haven’t been to my house before, have you? Come on, I’ll show you around.

๐Ÿ”น In the morning they’re going to show us round the new factory.

show off

[often disapproving] = behave in a conspicuous way because you want people to admire what you do or have

๐Ÿ”น Look at that guy showing off in his brand new Jaguar.

๐Ÿ”น Dad, you can stop showing off now. We all know you’re great at football.

shut up

[impolite when used imperatively] = stop talking

๐Ÿ”น Veronica was talking about her boyfriend all evening. I thought she was never going to shut up.

๐Ÿ”น Shut up! I’m trying to watch the TV.”

sit down

move your body into a sitting position, take a seat

๐Ÿ”น I was tired so I sat down for a while and watched TV.

๐Ÿ”น Dinnerโ€™s ready. Can you tell everybody to go and sit down at the table?

sleep in

sleep longer than you normally do

๐Ÿ”น Tomorrow’s Saturday so you can sleep in if you want to.

NB. In British English it is also used when you do it unintentionally, ie. oversleep.

๐Ÿ”น Amy missed the school bus this morning because she slept in. Her alarm clock didn’t go off.

sort out (1)


๐Ÿ”น Have you sorted out which clothes you’re going to take on holiday?

sort out (2)

solve a problem

๐Ÿ”น My computer isn’t working properly. Can you come and see if you can sort it out?

speak up

speak more loudly

๐Ÿ”น I can’t hear you. Can you speak up?

stand for

be an abbreviation/symbol of sth

๐Ÿ”น CIA stands for Central Intelligence Agency.

stay in

stay at home

๐Ÿ”น It’s Saturday night but I just feel like staying in and watching TV.

stay up

go to bed later than usual

๐Ÿ”น Alexandra let her children stay up to see the end of the match.

We often add ‘late’:

๐Ÿ”น Emma stayed up late to finish her assignment.

stress out

make somebody feel very anxious

๐Ÿ”น Emily takes the train to work now as driving in the city centre was really stressing her out.

๐Ÿ”น Charlie’s exams are stressing him out so much he can barely sleep.

switch off

to stop thinking about something or listening to somebody

๐Ÿ”น After work Tom usually goes for a run as it helps him to switch off.

๐Ÿ”น I switch off when my husband and his colleagues start talking about work.

take after

look or act like an older relative

๐Ÿ”น Olivia has curly blond hair and green eyes. She takes after her mother.

take back

return something to a shop because it’s the wrong size or there’s something wrong with it

๐Ÿ”น The jacket was too big so I took it back to the shop and got a smaller size.

๐Ÿ”น If your new phone isn’t working properly you should take it back straightaway.

take off (1)

leave the ground and start flying

๐Ÿ”น Their plane took off at ten thirty.

take off (2)

remove an item of clothing

๐Ÿ”น I was glad to get home and take off my shoes.

๐Ÿ”น After the meeting Jack took off his tie.

take out

extract, remove

๐Ÿ”น My son had his appendix taken out when he was just five.

take up

occupy or fill an amount of space or time

๐Ÿ”น The new sofa takes up almost half the lounge.

๐Ÿ”น Is there a cash machine near here? I need to take out some money.

tear up

when you tear up paper, you break it into small pieces with your hands.

๐Ÿ”น I needed the receipt but I’d torn it up.

๐Ÿ”น Why are you tearing up those letters? Don’t you want to keep them?

Pronunciation: ‘Tear’ rhymes with ‘where’ and ‘chair’.

tell off

speak to somebody angrily about something they’ve done wrong.

๐Ÿ”น Dan told off his son for swearing.

๐Ÿ”น George was told off by his teacher today as he hadn’t done his homework.

throw away

put something in the rubbish because you don’t need it anymore

๐Ÿ”น When I finished the newspaper, I threw it away.

tread on

step on somebody or something

๐Ÿ”น Ouch! You’re treading on my foot!

๐Ÿ”น Look where you’re going! You almost trod on a dog poo! ๐Ÿ’ฉ

Tread is an irregular verb: tread โžก trod โžกtrodden. Pronunciation: ‘Tread’ rhymes with ‘bread’.

try on

put on clothes to see if they fit or suit you

๐Ÿ”น I’m going to try on this dress. Do you know where the changing rooms are?

๐Ÿ”น Cinderella tried on the glass slipper. It was a perfect fit.

try out

test something or somebody to see if you like them, to see if they are effective, etc

๐Ÿ”น I tried out a new vegetarian recipe.

๐Ÿ”น They’re going to try out some new players for the team.

turn down

reject an invitation, offer, etc

๐Ÿ”น Dmitri turned down the job because the pay was very low.

turn into

change into something else

๐Ÿ”น The caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly.

๐Ÿ”น They’re turning the old train station into a hotel.

๐Ÿ”น You can sleep in the lounge. The sofa turns into a bed.

turn out

happen, develop or end in a certain way (often unexpectedly)

๐Ÿ”น Surprisingly the book turned out to be a big success.

๐Ÿ”น It turned out that the guy Joanna was sitting next to on the plane knew her husband.

turn over

change to another TV channel

๐Ÿ”น The film was too scary for the children so we turned over and watched something else.

turn up

to appear (after being lost)

๐Ÿ”น Did your ID card turn up? Yes, it had dropped under my car seat.

turn up / turn down

increase / decrease the volume

๐Ÿ”น Can you turn up the radio? I love this song.

๐Ÿ”น Do you mind turning down the sound a bit? It’s really loud.

use up

use all of something

๐Ÿ”น I couldn’t have a shower because Bryan had used up all the hot water.

๐Ÿ”น I made some soup to use up the turkey leftovers.

๐Ÿ”น Richard wishes he hadn’t used up all his holiday time.

wake up

stop sleeping; make sb stop sleeping

๐Ÿ”น I woke up at five o’clock and I couldn’t go back to sleep.

๐Ÿ”น Can you wake Dylan up please. He has to get ready for school.

warm up

get warmer; make somebody or something warmer

๐Ÿ”น It’s pretty cold in the mornings but it usually warms up a lot later.

๐Ÿ”น Here you go, this hot chocolate will warm you up.

wash up

do the dishes

๐Ÿ”น You cooked so I’ll wash up.

wear out

damage something through lots of use, making it no longer usable

๐Ÿ”น Eduardo has worn out his trainers. He needs a new pair.

work on

๐Ÿ”น I’m not a great cook. I need to work on my culinary skills.

๐Ÿ”น Scientists are working on a new vaccine.

๐Ÿ”น We’ve been working on this project for several months now.

work out

calculate, solve a problem, understand something by thinking about it

๐Ÿ”น Use a calculator to work out how much we owe.

๐Ÿ”น We need to work out how we can get there without a car.

๐Ÿ”น I just can’t work out why Ben would behave like that.

write down

make a note of something on paper, eg. an appointment or a phone number, so that you don’t forget it.

๐Ÿ”น Do you have a pen on you? I need to write down an address.

List of High Frequency Phrasal Verbs: A-K

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s