If you love idioms, you’ll get a kick out of phrasal verbs.
An idiom has a meaning you can’t figure out from the individual words. Knowing the words “hot” and “potato” won’t help you understand the idiom “hot potato” if you’ve never heard of it before.
A phrasal verb, on the other hand, is a phrase that consists of a verb and either an adverb, a preposition, or both. In some cases, they are idiomatic. For example, “hold up”, when it’s used as a phrasal verb, doesn’t mean to hold something in your hand and raise your arm. Instead, it means “to delay”. So if you’re in a long line that’s moving really slowly and you’re getting frustrated, you may shout, “What’s the hold up?”
Here are a few phrasal verbs you’ll likely hear during your workday.
1. To bring up
Meaning: To mention or introduce a topic. Someone can “bring something up” during a meeting, a call, or a casual conversation.
Example: Our presentation is missing some key points. I’m going to bring it up with the team tomorrow, so we can spend time working on it.
2. To fill out
Meaning: To complete a form.
Example: I just need you to fill out these forms before we can continue with the transaction.
3. Abide by
Meaning: Follow specific rules or an established way of doing things.
Example: All marketing materials have to abide by the company’s style guide before being published.
4. To bank on
Meaning: To bet that something will happen in a certain way.
Example: I’m banking on Teresa’s promotion, so that I can apply for her position.
5. To brush up on
Meaning: To update or improve your skills.
Example: I have to brush up on my Japanese before my business trip to Tokyo next fall.
6. To cut down on
Meaning: To reduce.
Example: I heard management is planning to cut down on the number of new hires next year. Money’s tight.
7. Fall through
Meaning: When something fails or doesn’t go as planned
Example: They’ve been working really hard on this for seven months, so I hope the deal doesn’t fall through.
8. Kick off
Meaning: To start something
Example: Okay, let’s kick off this meeting with some introductions. I’d like everybody to state their name and department.
9. Run out of
Meaning: To finish something, for there to be no more
Example: Make sure to order extra sandwiches for the conference. I don’t want to run out of food for the attendees.
10. Turn down
Meaning: To say “no”, to refuse.
Example: They want me to work in the accounting department, but I think I will turn down the offer.
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