English grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension exercises
List of English phrasal verbs


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Back down:
To retreat, relent. Example: "He didn't back down. He just kept on insulting me."

Back off:
To not follow up on a threat. To step back. Example: "The man threatened to call the cops, but he backed off when I said I would pay for the damages."

Back out (of):
To not keep (a promise, agreement,deal) Example: "The other investor backed out at the last second."

Back up:
(1) Move backward; Move in reverse. Example: "You still have some room to back up a bit."
(2) To confirm a story, facts, or information; To support. Example: "If you don't believe me, ask Bill. He'll back me up." (3) To make a copy (computer data, etc.)

Bail on someone:
To leave someone (especially when he/she needs you). Example: "That man bailed on his family when they needed him most."

Bail (someone/something) out:
To save (someone/something). Example: "The Democrats have a plan to bail out the automotive industry."

Bang up:
To damage. Example: "He banged up his car pretty bad."

Barge in:
To enter, interrupting something. Example: "He barged in while we were eating dinner."

Bawl out:
To scold. Example: "Mary's mother bawled her out for being mean to her sister."

Be after:
To look for. Example: "The pirates are after the treasure."

Be along:
To arrive. Example: "He'll be along in a bit."

Be down:
To be depressed. Example: "I've been feeling a little down recently."

Be down with:
*very informal* To be on good terms with something/someone. To like/respect someone/something.

Be in on:
To be a part of; to be involved with; to know about. Example: "They police are obviously in on the plan."

Be off:
(1) To be not quite right. Example: "The curry here is usually excellent, but today it's a little off."
(2) To not be at work (To have a day off work) Example: "I'm off today. Let's do something fun!"

Be on:
To have a very good/successful performance (usually said of musicians, comics, and other entertainers) Example: If you go to a concert and a musician is playing or singing really well, you can say "He's really on tonight!"

Be onto (someone):
To realize what someone is doing; to figure out someone's game, trick, etc. Example: He thought that he had everyone fooled, but I was onto him. (I realized what he was doing)

Be out of:
To have none left. Example: We're out of milk. = We have no more milk.

Be out to (do something):
To want to (do something). To have the intention of (doing something) Example: "He's out to kill me!"

Be up:
To be awake. Example: "I'm sorry, he's not up yet."

Be up to (something):
To be doing (something); To have something planned. Example: "What are you up to?", "I can tell that he's up to something."

Bear with (someone):
To be patient with someone. Example: "Bear with me, I'll be done in about 10 minutes."

Beat out:
To finish ahead of. Example: "Sandra beat out all the other contestants and finished first in the race."

Beat (someone) up:
To physically harm (someone). Example: "Q: What happened to you!? A: One of the school bullies beat me up today."

Blare out:
To say/sing something very loudly.

Blast off:
To leave the ground (when speaking about a rocket).

Blow (someone) away:
To impress someone greatly. Example: "We were blown away by her performance."

Blow (someone) off:
To say no to someone (This term has a somewhat negative connotation). Example: "We invited them for dinner last weekend, but they just blew us off."

Blow over:
When speaking about a scandal, etc. - To stop becoming important. Example: "This scandal won't blow over any time soon."

Blow up:
To explode. To destroy by exploding. Example: "The car blew up after the gasoline caught fire. Thankfully no one was inside."

Boil down to:
To amount to. Example: "What it boils down to is that I'm just not very interested."

Border on:
To be very close/similar to. Example: "His behavior borders on psychotic."

Boss (someone) around:
To tell someone what to do. Example: "I'm tired of her bossing me around!"

Bounce back:
To recover. Example: "The stock market will bounce back."

Branch out:
To explore new things, move into different areas (when speaking about a business, etc.) Example: "We were selling postcards, but we want to branch out into making envelopes."

Break down:
To stop working / functioning. Example: "My car broke down on the highway yesterday."

Break in / Break into:
To enter by using force (and breaking a lock, window, etc.) Example: "Someone broke into my apartment last night and stole all my CDs."

Break out (from prison, etc.):
To escape. Example: "Michael broke out of prison last week."

Break up:
(1)To disperse or scatter. Example: "The police had a hard time breaking up the crowd at the demonstration." (2) To end a personal relationship.
Example: "Fiona and Colin are no longer together. They broke up last week."

Brighten up:
To become better, most often used in the phrase "Things will brighten up."

Bring up:
(1) To mention (as a topic of discussion). Example: "Don't bring up his relationship with his brother. He's very sensitive about that."
(2) To raise. Example: "He was born in Houston, but he was brought up in Los Angeles."

Brush off:
To ignore. Example: "He brushed off every criticism."

Brush up on / Bone up on (*not as popular*):
To review/study thoroughly for a short time. Example: "I need to brush up on my French before my trip to Paris next month."

Bump into (or run into) someone:
To unexpectedly meet someone you know. Example: "I bumped into her at the party last night."

Burn down:
To completely destroy by fire. Example: "That house burned down last year."

Burn out:
To become exhausted (from doing something too long/too intensively, etc.); To become exhausted, unenthusiastic about a job due to boredom, stress, etc.

Butt in:
To impolitely interrupt (a conversation, an action). "Hey, don't butt in! Wait for your turn!"

Buy into:
To accept/believe/trust. "I'm not gullible. I'm not buying into what he says."

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