10 Commonly Used Multiple Meaning Phrasal Verbs in English

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Most common phrasal verbs

1. Turn around
stop being unsuccessful, get to be successful

  • I hope the new director will turn around our failing business.
  • We were losing in the first half but we managed to turn things around by the end of the game.

reverse the direction of something or someone

  • Turn the car around and go back to the filling station for the tank cap.
  • Turn around and let me dust your back.

2. Break off
end a relationship, association, etc.

  • They never got along well, and after one of their bitter quarrels they finally broke off their relationship.
  • You shouldn’t treat her like a child if you don’t want her to break off with you.

stop doing something

  • His speech wouldn’t have been bad, but he suddenly broke off in the middle of a sentence and left the auditorium.
  • The business will go on until one of the parties breaks off.

3. Cut out
shape or form by cutting

  • She cut her cap out of some funny old material.
  • They cut out thick paper swords for the children to play with.

delete, remove, leave out

  • He’s too fat, he’d better cut bread and sugar out of his diet and do more exercise.
  • I think the director should have cut out the part with the naked old man on the beach.

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4. Tuck in
make somebody feel comfortable in bed, put a child to bed

  • She tucked the children in and said goodnight.
  • Who’ll tuck me in while mummy’s away?

eat a lot of food with enthusiasm (informal)

  • The pie is ready, come on, guys, let’s tuck in.
  • All the guests hoped to tuck in to the finest foods at the wedding reception.

5. Give away
give something as a gift

  • If you won the lottery, how much would you give away to charity?
  • Sorry, we can’t lower the price, we’re almost giving away these products already.

betray; carelessly allow an advantage

  • He thought nobody would recognize him in the Santa Claus costume, but his voice gave him away.
  • Arsenal could hardly win after giving away two goals.

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6. Take back
retract something that you said

  • You can’t insult her wit rude words, take it all back.
  • What I said may sound critical, but I won’t take anything back.

return something (e.g. to a shop)

  • When we unpacked the china cups, we found one of them broken, so we took the whole stuff back.
  • Thanks for your kindness, but I don’t need this ugly dress, take it back to the shop.

7. Hang up
suspend something, attach at the top and let the lower part free

  • Come in, the maid will hang up your coat.
  • Your clothes are so untidy; why didn’t you hang them up last night?

put down the telephone, end the conversation

  • Gosh, I forgot to ask for her number before I hung up.
  • The girl was talking and talking on the phone, but she suddenly hung up when her mother came into the room.

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8. Turn in
go to bed, go to sleep

  • It’s late; we’d better turn in, good night.
  • She turned in quite early, but I stayed up and watched a film.

tell the police about someone

  • The robber had been hiding for weeks, but finally he decided to turn in.
  • The watchman threatened to turn them in to the police unless they give him a share of the stolen goods.

9. Call off
cancel, stop

  • Quite a lot of flights were called off due to the storm last night.
  • They called off their engagement because they couldn’t agree on what rings to buy.

order to stop, restrain

  • The dog bit the postman three times before it was called off.
  • We’ll give in, please call off your men.

10. Tear off
remove with force, separate by tearing

  • His collar and sleeves were torn off in the street fight, but fortunately he wasn’t hurt much.
  • Tear off a slip over there to get your number for queuing.

remove clothes quickly

  • When they reached the oasis, everybody tore off their burnous and jumped into the water.
  • It was only when he tore off the burglar’s mask that he saw it was a woman.

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