Three-word phrasal verbs

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Phrasal verbs are usually two-word phrases consisting of a verb + adverb, or a verb + preposition. There is a short list of phrasal verbs that contains three words, a real challenge. I recommend learning them as you do any English vocabulary; the most effective way is in “context”. The list below is a reference guide when you find an expression that you don't recognize. If you think of each phrasal verb as a separate verb with a specific meaning, you will be able to remember it more easily.

Three-word phrasal verbs are fixed sets of words that always remain together. Changing the prepositions will result in disaster.

break in on = interrupt (a conversation): I was talking to Mom on the phone when the operator broke in on our call.
catch up with = become current with the latest information: After our trip, it was time to catch up with the neighbors and the news around town.
check up on = examine, investigate: The boys promised to check up on the condition of the summer house from time to time.
come up with = to contribute (suggestion, money): Claudia's class came up with a theme for the spring concert.
cut down on = reduce, decrease: We tried to cut down on the money we were spending on entertainment.
drop out of = withdraw from participation: I hope none of my students drop out of school this semester.
get along with = have a good relationship with: I found it very hard to get along with my brother when we were young.
get away with = escape blame: Carlo cheated on the exam and then tried to get away with it.
get rid of = eliminate: The citizens tried to get rid of their corrupt mayor in the recent election.
get through with = finish: When will you ever get through with that book?
keep up with = maintain pace with: Kim couldn't keep up with the other runners in the marathon.
look forward to = anticipate with pleasure: I always look forward to my summer vacation.
look down on = consider inferior: Chris looks down on Charlie's car because it's an older model.
look in on = visit (somebody): We were going to look in on my brother-in-law, but he wasn't home.
look out for = be careful, anticipate: Good instructors will look out for early signs of failure in their students.
look up to = respect: First-graders really look up to their teachers.
make sure of = verify: Make sure of the student's identity before you let him into the classroom.
put up with = tolerate: We must put up with high humidity in the summer.
run out of = have no more of something: The runners ran out of energy before the end of the race.
take care of = be responsible for: It requires a lot of money and time to take care of a horse.
talk back to = answer impolitely: The star player talked back to the coach and was thrown off the team.
think back on = recall: I often think back on my childhood with great pleasure.
walk out on = abandon: Her husband walked out on her and their three children.

*The list is courtesy of

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