Phrasal Verbs A - B

This is the phrasal verb reference section. Here there are definitions and examples for hundreds of phrasal verbs found in English.

Don't forget we have a phrasal verb exercise page.


Act Up

1. Act in a stupid or silly manner/way.
The teacher got angry because John began to act up and was distracting the class.
2. For a machine, to not work properly.
The television has been acting up recently. I should telephone the technician.


Add Up

Make sense; fit together logically.
They have been going out for over five years now. It adds up that they will eventually get married.


Ask After

Enquire about the health of someone or general news about them.
I met your friend Susan. She asked after you.

Ask Out

Ask out for a date.
Trevor's main problem is that he is so shy. I don't think he would ever ask a girl out.

Ask Over

Invite to house.
If you aren't doing anything tonight, why don't you ask Rebecca over.


Back Down

Not follow a threat.
The company was ready for a fight but backed down when they saw the workers were serious about the threat of strike action.

Back Away/Off

Not follow a threat, withdraw.
The police backed off when they saw the man had a gun pointed at the hostage.

Back On/Onto

Where the back of something faces something.
Our summer house backs onto a beautiful park.

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Back Out Of

Withdraw support.
He decided to back out of the plan once it started to cost too much.

Back Up

1. Move backwards/in reverse.
Back up the car a little way and then we can open the gate.
2. Confirm facts or information.
If you don't believe me, talk to James. He'll back me up.

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