10 Essential Phrasal Verbs for Everyday English Conversation

Learning May 16, 2021

Phrasal verbs can be very challenging parts of speech for those learning to speak English at a fluent conversational level.

Phrasal verbs require you to memorize the meaning, and sometimes multiple meanings for some phrasal verbs, while also keeping in mind some other things relating to the context in which they are used.

This will include determining if the verb is transitive or intransitive, and if it is separable or inseparable, but we’ll get into those another time.

Here are ten of the most common and essential phrasal verbs that you might encounter.

Bring Up

This is used in the context of discussing something with someone. For example, “That is a great idea, I’ll be sure to bring it up at our next company meeting.”

This is a common way to begin discussing something in either a personal or business setting.

Get Across

This is a phrasal verb often combined with either “try” or “attempt”, to indicate that you are making an effort to communicate a particular message or idea.

For example, “I’m trying to get my point across but Joe doesn’t seem to want to listen.”

Let On

This is a phrasal verb that is often used when talking about keeping something a secret and can be used in a negative or positive sense.

For example, “Don’t let on that you know about the surprise party, they’ll be so disappointed.”

Jump In

This is a great phrasal verb often used to indicate that someone has interrupted someone else.

For example, “I was talking about my favorite movies, and he jumped in and made the whole conversation about him.”

Dry Up

This is a versatile phrasal verb that can be used to show that something is not as plentiful as it once was, and can be used in a wide variety of subjects.

For example, “She got her real estate license, but then the housing market dried up, and she had to go back to her old job.”

Get Through To

This is a common phrasal verb used to indicate attempting to communicate but being unsuccessful.

For example, “I tried explaining the project for 60 minutes before I realized I just could not get through to her.”

Talk (something) Over

This is a phrasal verb that is used to indicate something is being discussed, often between just two people.

For example, “If you are having second thoughts about moving, let’s talk it over tonight after dinner.”

Talk Over (someone)

This is another way to use ‘talk over’ as a phrasal verb, and it is used to indicate interrupting someone in a rude manner.

For example, “We were talking, and Joe came over and just started talking over everyone.”

Shut (someone) Down

This phrasal verb is used to indicate an immediate rejection of someone’s idea.

For example, “Three words in she shut him down and walked away.”

Back (someone) Up

This one is used to indicate lending someone support, as in “he backed her up when her idea was attacked.”

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