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Phrasal Verb Lessons with Examiner’s Comments


A phrasal verb is simply a combination of a preposition or an adverb and a lexical verb, that is, a lexical verb plus a preposition or adverb is equal to a phrasal verb.

Examiner’s Comments on the Uses of Phrasal Verbs

The word blow in is a combination of verb (blow) and preposition (in) to make a phrasal verb blow in. Apart from the formation of a phrasal verb, it does not also have a literal meaning but a figurative meaning; that is, it cannot be understood from the ordinary meanings of the words that make it. So, a phrasal verb has an idiomatic meaning. For example, the word blow in means arrive or enter a place abruptly. It does not really mean blow. Also, the word take in means deceive or to be pregnant. It does not really mean to take something inside or in. Therefore, a phrasal verb serves as an idiomatic expression as its meaning is non-literal. Let us learn from the phrasal verbs and their meanings below and then consider how they are used in the sentences.

Phrasal verbs                         Meanings

Back down                  –           to admit that one is wrong

Back out                      –           to fail to fulfill a promise

Back up                       –           to support

Bite back                     –           to caution oneself from expressing something like secret or bad


Blow out                     –           put out my wind

Take off                      –           leave the ground and rise

Give up                       –           abandon the attempt to do something

Give out                      –           come to an end, be exhausted

Give in                        –  allow oneself to be defeated, overcome by somebody or something

Give away                   –           give something free of charge

Give back                    –           return or restore

Take down                  –           write down

Take off                      –           remove

Take in                        –           deceive

Take away                   –           lessen/weaken or diminish

Buy off/over               –           to bribe

Call off                        –           to cause not to take place

Come through             –           to become what is expected or to continue to live after something dangerous

Cook up                      –           to formulate lie or falsehood

Fall through                 –           to fail to be completed, come to nothing

Turn up                        –           arrive

Turn off                       –           switch off

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Turn out                      –           occur unexpectedly

Turn down                  –           refuse

Make out                     –           manage to read and see

Make away with oneself –       commit suicide

Make away with something –  steal

Break up                      –           come to an end

Look out                     –           be on the watch

Cut out                       –           stop functioning

Put up with                 –           tolerate

Set in                           –           start

Set up                          –           establish oneself in business

Set out                         –           leave a place and begin a journey

Come up                      –           occur, arise

Kick-off                      –           start the game

Take back                    –           withdraw

Live up                        –           reach the standard expected

Come across                –           meet

Put off                         –           postpone

Pull through                –           avoid difficulties, failure or danger

Put across                    –           trick, deceive

Put out                        –           extinguish

Blow up                      –           expose, break to pieces

Run over (something) –           hit it

Run out of                   –           shortage of

See to                          –           pay adequate attention

Come off it                 –           straight to the point

Come down on           –           punish, rebuke

Come up with             –           divulge, disclose, reveal

Get busy                      –           able to just manage

Get over                      –           recover from a surprise or shock

Drop out                      –           withdraw from an undertaking

Go back on                  –           withdraw from a commitment

Make off with             –           to seal

Makeup                      –           compensate

Play up                        –           exaggerate or over-emphasize

Leave over                  –           postpone

Come along                 –           arrive, appear

Run across                   –           find, by chance, meet

Get ahead                    –           make progress, pass others

Break in                       –           enter a building by force

Turn on                        –           switch on

Set back                      –           impede the progress

Race with                    –           compete in speed

Lying down                –           submit to challenge

Cut out                       –           stop functioning

Tip-off                         –           to give someone a warning or give information to somebody

Step down                   –           to give one’s place to another person in an election

Stir up                         –           cause trouble

Seal off                       –           close a premise tightly to prevent entry or escape

Get through                 –           to reach somebody by telephone or succeed

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Guard against              –           to prevent a happening by special care

Pin down                     –           to prevent moving

Nose out                      –           to discover something by close searching

Mop up                        –           to finish dealing with, or remove unwanted liquid

Dress down                 –           to scold severely

Cash in on                   –           to exploit something or use something to one’s advantage

Drum into                    –           to put an idea firmly into someone’s mind

Examiner’s Uses of Some of Phrasal Verbs

 It is also important to use some of the phrasal verbs in sentences as seen below. Then make each of them in a sentence to convey the meaning of the expression.

  1. The armed robbers broke into that bank and stole some amounts of money.
  2. The boss was bought over so that he could employ more people.
  3. Whether you like it or not, I will come up with that secret.
  4. Yesterday, Bayo made off with a Toyota car on an occasion.
  5. I have tried to take back the job but my boss didn’t allow me.
  6. Let us put off our journey till tomorrow.
  7. Mr. Ojo turns down to agree on that matter.
  8. The meeting of staff has been given out now.
  9. I don’t think I can put up with Mr. Ojo’s behavior.
  10. You should be able to get by the company very well.

Practice Questions

 Answer the following questions correctly.

Choose the word or a group of words that best completes each of the following sentences.

  1. The police vehicle raced ______ full speed with its siren blaring.

(a) on               (b) with           (c) at                (d) in

  1. Stella wanted to show _______ with her necklace.

(a) off              (b) on               (c) over            (d) back

  1. The national essay competition came _____ on the 23rd of July, 1986.

(a) out              (b) in                (b) by               (d) up

  1. There was a lot of tension in the area and it was felt that a dispute might flare ______ any time.

(a) up               (b) down         (c) in                (d) to

  1. Please, look _______ my answers for me.

(a) over            (b) across         (c) after           (d) on

  1. Lekan has tried hard to live ______ to his parent’s expectations.

(a) over            (b) on               (c) through      (d) up

  1. There are ______ new employees at the headquarters of the factory.
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(a) taking up    (b) taking after                  (c) taking on          (d) taking over

  1. The celebrations were rounded ______ with a novelty match.

(a) off              (b) up               (c) down          (d) out

  1. Mary is a friendly sort of person. I _____ her the first time I met her.

(a) took on       (b) took for      (c) took after   (d) took to

  1. The boy was seen hitting the girl, but the teacher merely cautioned him and let him _____

(a) down          (b) on               (c) through      (d) off

  1. Many affidavits have been ______ as evidence in this case.

(a) sworn in     (b)  sworn with            (c) sworn for         (d) sworn to

  1. The new bakery will _______ one thousand loaves of bread daily.

(a) turn over           (b) turn out           (c) turn up       (d) turn in

  1. Ahmadu would have arrived earlier but he was ______ in heavy traffic.

(a) held up       (b) held down      (c) held off        (d) held about

  1. Bola is a good friend of mine, but I am sometimes ______ by her careless attitude.

(a) blown off        (b) forced out      (c) turned out        (d) put off

  1. Luck ______ the robbers on that fateful day.

(a) came down      (b) ran out on     (c) ended up with     (d) made away with

  1. I tendered for that contrast, but my application _______.

(a) fell in          (b) fell off       (c) fell through            (d) fell down

  1. Janet could not attend the party because she _____ with flu over the weekend.

(a) came up      (b) came down                 (c) came away     (d) came in

  1. The worker’s strike was ______ as a result of the Director’s intervention.

(a) called back     (b) called in     (c) called off      (d) called out

  1. Since we were not given everything we requested, we should ______ with what we have.

(a) makeup (b) make out    (c) made do     (d) makeover

  1. The manager is leaving the company to ______ a new appointment elsewhere.

(a) take over    (b) take on       (c) take up       (d) take off

  WAEC June 1998 – 2003

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