Common English Phrasal Verbs Part 1

English Phrasal Verbs


1. When you believe in something or somebody you are sure that something or somebody exists.

Examples of use:

a) Do you believe in God?

b) I didn’t believe in ghosts until I stayed in an old castle in Romania: now I’m certain they exist.

c) My children still believe in fairies.

2. To believe in something is to have a strong belief that something is good or right.

Examples of use:

a) My grandparents believed in working hard and helping others.

b) They do not believe in the death penalty.

c) We believe in discipline for our children, but we don’t believe in hitting them.

d) We don’t believe in living together before marriage.

3. When you believe in somebody, you have confidence that they are a good trustworthy person, or that they can do something well.

Examples of use:

a) We still believe in you.

b) I want to believe in you, but you lied to me about everything.

c) Don’t worry about your exams. We believe in you and we know you will do well.

d) You can get through these problems. I believe in you.


1. To blow up something (or blow something up) means to fill it with air; for example, a balloon, or a car or bicycle tyre.

Example of use: Can you blow these balloons up for the party, please?

2. Blow up also means to suddenly lose your temper (get very angry). Informal English.

Example of use:

a) I broke her iPad and she blew up at me.

b) We were having a discussion about the accounts and he suddenly blew up and stormed out.

3. When something blows up (or when somebody blows something up) it explodes.

Examples of use:

a) The family were injured when their house blew up because of a gas leak.

b) Fortunately the plane was empty when the hijackers blew it up.


1. If a vehicle or machine breaks down it stops working.

Examples of use:

a) Our car broke down on the way to the airport and we missed our flight.

b) My washing machine has broken down.

c) Sorry I’m late. The train broke down.

2. If you break down you are unable to control your feelings and you start to cry.

Examples of use:

a) She broke down when she heard the sad news.

b) He misses his mother very much, and he often breaks down when he talks about her.

3. To break down is also to become mentally or physically ill because of difficult or traumatic experiences.

breakdown (noun) – a physical or mental collapse.

Examples of use:

a) Not long after her husband died she broke down and had to take some time off work.

b) She had a nervous breakdown after her son was kidnapped.

c) He had a breakdown last year but he’s much better now.

4. If a meeting, discussion or an agreement (including a relationship or marriage) breaks down it fails or stops working properly.

Examples of use:

a) The talks between the political parties have broken down.

b) Our marriage has broken down and we are getting a divorce.


1. If you call back somebody (or call somebody back) you telephone someone who rang you earlier, or you telephone someone for a second time.

Examples of use:

a) Mr Evans telephoned while you were out: he wants you to call him back.

b) He forgot to book a double room, so he had to call the hotel back.

2. To call back is to return to a place to see somebody again.

Examples of use: a) Mrs Bottone is in a meeting. Can you call back this afternoon, please?


1. To call off something (or call something off) is to cancel a planned event, or an event that has already started.

Examples of use:

a) They are calling off the tennis match because of the rain.

b) They called off their wedding.

c) Mike is ill so we will have to call the party off.

d) News headline: Spain airport strike called off.

e) The police called off their search for the burglar after they found him hiding in a shed.

f) The Bahrain Grand Prix has been called off.

2. To call off somebody or something (or call somebody or something off) is to give a command to somebody or something (e.g. a dog) to leave someone alone, or to stop attacking someone.

Examples of use:

a) Call off your dog!

b) The General called off his troops.

c) OK, I agree to your demands. You can call your lawyers off now.


To call round is to visit someone, usually for a short period of time.

British and Australian English.

Examples of use:

a) I think I’ll call round and see if my grandmother needs anything.

b) We called round yesterday, but you were out.

c) Mrs Green’s son calls round after work every day. She looks forward to his visits.

d) Why don’t you call round tomorrow? We can have a cup of tea and a chat.


1. To check in is to show your ticket at an airport so that the airline knows you have arrived, and they can put your bags on the aircraft.

Examples of use:

a) We have to check in at 8 o’clock.

b) Please check in at least one hour before your flight leaves.

The check-in (noun) is the place at the airport where you show your ticket and let the airline know that you have arrived.

2. To check in (or check into something) is to arrive at a hotel reception desk and tell the hotel staff who you are, and collect your room key.

Examples of use:

a) We need to check into our hotel before 10pm.

b) I’ll meet you in the hotel restaurant in 10 minutes. I’ll just check in and put my suitcase in my room.

c) Where’s dad? He’s checking in and collecting our room keys.


1. To cheer up is to start to feel happier.

Examples of use:

a) I wish he would cheer up.

b) She was very unhappy last week, but she has cheered up now. .

c) He cheers up when he sees his girlfriend.

2. To cheer up somebody (or cheer somebody up) is to make them feel happier.

Examples of use:

a) Harriet has had a very bad week. Let’s buy her some flowers to cheer her up.

b) You look sad. What can I do to cheer you up?


To eat out is to eat away from home, at a cafe or restaurant.

Examples of use:
a) I don’t feel like cooking tonight so let’s eat out.
b) We have eaten out every night this week!
c) I don’t like eating out. I prefer to eat at home.
d) I enjoy eating out with friends and family.


1. To fall out with someone is to become upset or angry with them, and stop being friendly with them.

Examples of use:
a) We fell out over something very small.
b) I fell out with my sister because she broke my necklace.
c) Ingrid and Beatrice fell out when Ingrid crashed Beatrice’s car.
d) Marcus and Akos have fallen out.

2. A falling-out (noun) is an argument or disagreement.

Example of use:
Jerry hasn’t spoken to his brother for years. They had a falling-out over money.

3. If your hair falls out it becomes loose and unattached.

Examples of use:
a) My hair fell out when I was ill.
b) My father’s hair started to fall out when he was only 30, and now he is completely bald.


1. To fall over is to fall to the ground from an upright position.

Examples of use:
a) The marathon runner fell over.
b) He stood up quickly and his chair fell over.
c) My son is learning to walk and he keeps falling over.
d) Their grandmother has fallen over and broken her hip.

2. If you fall over yourself (or fall all over yourself) to do something, you are very keen to do it.

Examples of use:
a) Chris fell over himself trying to impress his new wife.
b) The supermarkets are falling over themselves to attract customers to their shops.


1. To get up is to wake up and get out of bed.

Examples of use:
a) It’s 8 o’clock: time to get up.
b) I want to get up early tomorrow.
c) We had a day off work yesterday so we got up very late.
d) He’s been getting up at 5am every day for years.
e) She gets up early and goes for a run every morning.
f) I get up at 7.30 every day.

2. To get up is also to stand up.

Examples of use:
a) Get up off the floor. Your clothes will get dirty.
b) He fell over when he was playing football, but quickly got up again.

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