Phrasal Verbs in English

Phrasal verbs are often used in English, especially in informal situations. They comprise a verb and particle/particles (a preposition or an adverb).

Verb + for
It expresses purpose or reasons. For example:

apologize for– David never apologizes for his behavior.
ask for– The student asked for a pencil.
beg for– The man begged for a second chance.
care for– I don’t care for salads.
fight for– Many generations of people have fought for freedom.
hope for– The family is hoping for a miracle.
long for– The man longed for the days of his youth.
pay for– Who’s going to pay for these tickets?
provide for-Parents are expected to provide for their children.
search for– Did you search for the missing piece yet?”
wait for–  I’m waiting for the bus.
wish for–  Some people wish for nothing but fame.
work for– She works for the government.


Verb + to
It refers to the direction (literally or metaphorically) or connections between people and things. For example:

adjust to – You’ll adjust to your new school in no time.
belong to– The wallet belongs to that woman over there.
travel to– I am traveling to England tomorrow.
listen to– Grace is listening to music in her room.
go to– Anthony, please go to the back of the classroom.
respond to– Ann responded to her friend’s email.
talk to – He talked to the boss for more than an hour.
turn to– Turn to page 46 for a diagram of the procedure.


Verb + about

This phrasal verb is often used to refer to events or gerunds. For example:

care about– She doesn’t seem to care about going to college.
complain about– The boy complained about his early curfew.
forget about– I forgot about the wedding reception.
hear about– Did you hear about the renovation project?
joke about–  Kim often jokes about her high-pitched voice.
know about– What do you know about physics?
laugh about–  The friends laughed about their terrible luck.
learn about– Ann is learning about film production.
talk about– What are you talking about?
think about– We’ll need to think about hiring some more staff.
worry about–  So many adults worry about getting older.
write about–  George wrote about his day in his journal.


Verb + with
It usually refers to the connections or relationships between people or things. For example:

agree with– I don’t agree with his opinions.
argue with– The two argued with each other for several minutes.
begin with, start with-Let’s begin with a short quiz.
compare with– How does the restaurant’s soup compare with David’s?
compete with– David only competes with his counterparts.
cope with– It’s not easy to cope with failure.
disagree with–  She disagrees with my suggestion.
meet with– When will you meet with her?


Verb + of
It is used with some verbs. For example:

approve of – George doesn’t approve of David’s behaviour.
consist of – Pizza consists of bread, cheese and tomatoes.
dream of – I dream of visiting Asia.
hear of – Have you heard of this new radio show?
take care of -Who will take care of your dog while you’re away?
think of – If you only think of failure, you’ll never succeed.


Verb + in
It refers to the involvement or connections between people and things. For example:

believe in – The majority of kids believe in Santa Claus.
engage in– Ann wants to engage in political debates.
invest in –  Now is the time to invest in the British economy.
participate in – What sports did you participate in in your childhood?
result in– The referee’s mistake resulted in a bad match.
specialize in – The students can choose to specialize in literature.
succeed in– David succeeded in earning a scholarship.


Verb + at

It refers to places, skills or reactions. For example:

arrive at – He arrived at the hotel in the evening.
excel at – My child already excels at math and science.
laugh at – Ann couldn’t stop laughing at David’s joke.
look at – Look at the board, please.
nod at – She nodded at her colleagues.
shout at– He shouted at the hooligans.
smile at – My little daughter smiles at me when she sees me.
stare at– It’s uncomfortable when people stare at you.


Verb + on
It is used with some verbs. For example:

agree on– The board finally agreed on a solution.
bet on – He wouldn’t bet on that happening.
comment on -The prosecutor briefly commented on the case.
concentrate on – David concentrates on his work.
focus on – I cannot focus on this task.
decide on– Ann eventually decided on her career path.
depend on –  You can’t depend on her forever.
rely on –  Too many students rely on the internet to write a thesis.
elaborate on –  This paragraph elaborates on thesis statement.
experiment on – The new law forbids to experiment on animals.
insist on – She insisted on joining us.
operate on – The young surgeons learn how to operate on people.


Verb + from
It refers to origin, connection or disconnection. For example:

benefit from– Banks benefit from the economic laws.
come from– Ann comes from England.
differ from– How does the UK differ from the USA?
escape from– The war prisoners escaped from the camp.
recover from– The girl recovered from her illness.
refrain from–  Could you please refrain from screaming?
resign from– The director resigned from his position after 30 years.
retire from–  She retired from her job last year.
suffer from– Many people suffer from insomnia.

See also:  Regular Verbs in English