5 Phrasal Verbs You Need to Learn Right Now

phrasal verbs

You probably already know this: Phrasal verbs are SUPER common in English!

But how often do you actually use phrasal verbs when you speak?

You do not need phrasal verbs to be understood, and many of them have a (less common) Latin equivalent in English. However, I’ve noticed one of the things that makes the BEST English learners exceptional is their mastery of phrasal verbs.

Seriously, when I talk to someone who speaks English confidently and can use American colloquialisms and phrasal verbs appropriately, I often forget I’m speaking to a non-native!

But no pressure! To learn and memorize anything, patience is key.

So this week your homework is to master the 5 phrasal verbs I’ll teach you today, and then next week on your own go out and find at least 5 new phrasal verbs to add to your vocabulary.

Imagine, after just a few weeks you’ll already know and be able to use dozens of phrasal verbs like a pro. Aww yeah!!

Common Phrasal Verbs

The phrasal verbs you’ll learn today are EXTREMELY common, but I rarely see non-native speakers using them.

For each phrasal verb, I’ll give you the definition, synonyms (including Latin cognates), and two examples.

If you make it to the end, I have a special present for you ;).

1. Figure out

Definition: To solve or discover the cause of a problem; to finally understand something.

Synonyms: Resolve, deduce, arrive to an understanding, decide after deliberation

Example 1: After running some tests I finally figured out why my computer wasn’t working.

Example 2: Have you figured out where you want to go for spring break?

2. Find out

Definition: To discover information or a fact

Synonyms: Ascertain, discover, become aware, bring to light

Example 1: Judy just found out that she was pregnant last week.

Example 2: The nation was shocked to find out that the president lied about his actions.

Note: Because find out and figure out have similar definitions, they are often confused. The main difference between the two is that to figure something out requires working or thinking to uncover the solution. Find out is receiving new information (that may give you the solution).

3. End up

Definition: To arrive at a final circumstance, decision, or goal; become eventually

Synonyms: In the end

Example 1: We wanted to go to the Chinese restaurant, but it was closed, so we ended up eating Italian food.

Example 2: After much deliberation he ended up joining the army.

4. Sleep in

sleep in phrasal verbDefinition: To sleep late

Synonyms: None

Example 1: It’s been a long week. I’m looking forward to sleeping in Saturday morning.

Example 2: I would have slept in, but I wanted to go for a run before it got too hot out.

Note: You may also hear the term oversleep, but don’t confuse the two colloquialisms. Sleeping in is intentional, oversleeping is unintentional (e.g. I got fired because I kept oversleeping and arriving late to work).

5. Count on

Definition: To rely on someone or something

Synonyms: Confide, trust, lean on, bet on

Example 1: I know I can always count on her to help me when I’m sad.

Example 2: We’re counting on this new medicine to cure the disease.

Phrasal Verbs are Important

If you want to sound more like a native, you cannot ignore phrasal verbs.

Most learners get scared when they see phrasal verbs because they feel like they are learning a new definition of a word they know, or they have to learn two words.

My advice is to treat a phrasal verb just like a new word, not like a modified version of a word you already know.

What’s the best way to learn new vocabulary, expressions, and phrasal verbs?

By using free memorization applications like Anki and Memrise.

Your special present!

To get you started, I’ve made a Memrise deck (with audio!) that you can access here. No download necessary and Memrise is completely free, just make an account.

Did you enjoy this article? Tell me! Write in the comments below, and please let me know if there is anything you would like me to teach you in future articles.

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25 Comments

  1. Erhan Demirci on May 6, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I found as a success article. Thanks.

  2. Iverson Sales on May 6, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    this phrasal verbs leave my vocabulary more broader thank you

  3. Vanda Lemos on May 6, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Phrasal verbs are very hard to me to figure out. i have learn them and practice.

  4. Rocío Hernández on May 7, 2016 at 2:21 am

    Aesome! as always

  5. Aline Lee on May 7, 2016 at 2:34 am

    I spent part of my life trying to figure out the best way to learn a new language and finally I found out a way to really learn it. With hard working I'm sure I'll end up mastering English and the best thing, is that I know I can count on with RLE guys!

  6. Elaine Izabel Coelho Mattos on May 7, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Very useful

  7. Welisson Tome on May 7, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I liked this article, and to be honest i have a little difficult to memorise these pharsl verbs. I would like to read more it like that. Tks guys.

  8. Mustafa Ünver on May 7, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I figured out that you are a very nice teacher:) thank you…

  9. Nietzsche Martins on May 8, 2016 at 1:24 am

    I've already jotted down theses tips and add in my Anki. Thank you a lot. You don't have idea how this blog is helping me to improve my English.

  10. Huyên Ph?m on May 9, 2016 at 6:22 am

    i have used this phrasal verds but i could not understand its means. now i get it. many thanks :))

  11. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I'm glad it was helpful for you 😉

  12. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    That's great to hear bro!! Keep working hard 😉

  13. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Well I hope this helped you with that then! Just keep at it, don't get discouraged or give up

  14. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you!

  15. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Aww yeah! I'm so glad that you've gotten that mentality, it's seriously the #1 thing that will keep you motivated and ultimately make you successful! Best of luck

  16. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you Elaine!

  17. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I'll keep that in mind, Welisson 🙂

  18. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks Mustafa 🙂

  19. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Jot down is another good phrasal verb, good job 😉 I'm glad we're helping you with your English!

  20. Ethan Zinho on May 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Awesome Huyen!! Keep up the good work.

  21. Fabrício Moura on May 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    It's funny because I know these for a while, but, rarely use them hehe

    Thanks reminded me 😀

  22. Sérgio Luiz Araújo Silva on May 11, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I was looking for new ways to learn English, then I find out Real
    Life English and I figure out how ease it can be. I end up
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  23. Bruno on May 14, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Amazing… Thanks, bro. Mainly for the first two phrasel verbs: I always messed them up, due to their cloaw definition. But I have just found out their difference.

  24. Vijay Shelar on April 28, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Hi I am Vijay from India, Many thanks for this article it’s very useful for me I am still learning English and I have just released that phrasal verb is connect to filling it’s most important and it automatically come out in mouth

    • Justin Murray on April 28, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      Great, thanks for your nice comment Vijay!

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