Phrasal verbs | Sunday Observer

Phrasal verbs

1 May, 2022

Phrasal verbs are an important feature of the English language. The meaning of a phrasal verb often bears no relation to the meaning of either the verb or the particle which is used with it. Many phrasal verbs have several different meanings.

Play at (to pretend to be a particular person to do a particular thing, usually as a game)
As children we used to play at being thieves and detectives.
Play back (to listen to sounds or watch pictures that you have just recorded)
When I played back the songs I realised that I had not done a good job.
Play down (to try to make people believe that something is not very important or that it is not likely to happen)
Ministers played down the prospect of an early election.
Play off (to play the last game in a sports competition in order to decide the winner, especially when the teams have the same number of points)
The final 12 teams will play off on Monday.
Play off against (to encourage one person or group to compete against or argue with another hoping that you can get some advantage from the situation)
When you get quotations from two different companies, you can play them off against each other.
Play on (to use someone’s fears or weaknesses in order to make that person to do what you want)
I do not like marketing strategies that play on people’s fears.
Play up to (to try to make someone like you by behaving in a way you think will please them)
Jane played up to her admirers with a mixture of charm and wit.
Plump up (to make something rounder and softer, especially by shaking it)
Miranda sat up while her mother plumped up the pillows behind her.
Plunge in (to suddenly start talking or doing something without preparing for it)
I had no experience in giving first aid, but I plunged in nonetheless.
Plunge into (to quickly put something, especially your hand, deep into something else)
Rosy plunged her hand into cold water to stop the burning.
Play with (to give someone something, especially food or drink)
Amanda is going to play him with a drink and then ask him what’s going on.
Point out (to make a person notice someone or something, usually by telling them where they are)
If you see Maureen, you must point her out to me.
Point to (to say something because you think it is important)
The director pointed to the need for better training of the staff.
Point towards (if something points towards a fact or event, it makes it seem likely that the fact is true or that the event will happen)
All the indications point towards an early election.
Point up (to make a problem or a fact easy to notice so that people are aware of it)
All the opinions point up the disadvantages or the present system.
Poke at (to push your finger or a pointed object into something, usually several times)
Bob drank some more wine and poked at his salmon.
Polish off (to finish something quickly, especially a large amount of food or a piece of work)
Diana finished off no fewer than four essays last week.
Polish up (to practise and improve your skills or knowledge of something)
Mary has to polish up her French before going to France.
Pop in (to go into a place, especially a friend’s house)
Why don’t you pop in for a chat?
Pop out (to leave the place where you are and go somewhere for a short time)
She’s just popping out to get some food.
Pop up (if something pops up, it suddenly appears)
A message just popped up on my screen saying “unauthorised connection.”
Pore over (to study or look carefully at something, especially a book or a document)
Amelia was poring over her notes for her examination.
Portion out (to share something among a group of people)
We portioned the cake out fairly.
Post up (to put a notice on a wall)
Company announcements are usually posted up on the notice board.
Pounce on / upon (to immediately criticise a mistake)
Critics are waiting to pounce on any slip that I may make.
Pour down (to rain heavily)
If it is pouring down, take an umbrella.