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Learn Business English: 10 Phrasal Verbs You’ll Likely Hear In The Workplace

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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