10 Common Phrasal Verbs You Need to Know

Do you know any phrasal verbs?

You might think you don’t, but think again!

Phrasal verbs are very common in English, so you’ve probably heard a lot of them before . . . maybe you’ve even used some!

What is a Phrasal Verb?

A phrasal verb is an action phrase made of two or more words: a verb and a preposition, usually. 

A verb is a word that expresses an action—like run, sit, stand, or put. 

A preposition is a word (or group of words) that shows direction, location, or time. Examples of prepositions are at, in, under, on, and up.

By putting different verbs and prepositions together, you can make phrasal verbs! 

Types of Phrasal Verbs

There are two kinds of phrasal verbs: transitive and intransitive.


 A transitive phrasal verb needs an object to make sense.  

Some transitive phrasal verbs can be separated: The object can go in the middle of the phrasal verb, or at the end.

Let’s look at the phrasal verb “take off”: 

Take off your shoes. 

Take your shoes off

These are both correct.

In the second example, the phrasal verb has been separated, and the object (your shoes) has been put in the middle. The meaning doesn’t change.


An intransitive phrasal verb doesn’t take an object. It can never be separated, either.

Look at the phrasal verb “grow up” (to become an adult):

→ I want to be a doctor when I grow up. (Correct.)

→ I want to be a doctor when I grow myself up. (Incorrect because we’ve separated the phrasal verb and added an object.)

Now you’re ready to look at the list of phrasal verbs below!

Phrasal Verbs List

1. Ask out 

→ To invite someone to go on a date

I really like Yoko. I’m going to ask her out this weekend. 

2. Bring up

→ To mention something; to start talking about something

Don’t bring up our Disneyland trip to Mary. She can’t go and she’s not happy about it!

3. Check out

→ To look at something or someone (informal)

Hey! Check out that guy! He’s wearing the biggest hat I’ve ever seen!

4. Drop in/Drop by

→ To come without an appointment; to casually visit for a short time

I want to clean the house a bit. Tanya said she might drop by for tea this afternoon.  

5. Eat up

→ To eat all of something

It seems like the dog liked his new food; he ate it up!

6. Find out

→ To discover something

I’m going to find out who keeps stealing my lunch at work!

7. Give up

→ To quit

My doctor says I have to give up smoking cigarettes.

8. Hang out

→ To spend time relaxing (informal)

I’m pretty tired; I just want to hang out at home this weekend.

9. Kick out

→ To force someone to leave a place

Kelly stole money from her father so she was kicked out of her house.

10. Look forward to

→ To be excited about something in the future

I’m really looking forward to the Ariana Grande concert next month!


There are a lot of phrasal verbs to learn—this list is just the start. But don’t give up! Next time you read a book, watch a video, or have a conversation, try to identify some phrasal verbs. You’ll be an expert soon!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.