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  • The Phrasal Verb 'Take Off' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'take off', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! The phrasal verb 'take off' is a wonderful phrasal verb to be have in your active English vocabulary, not only because it is very commonly used amongst native speakers, but also because many of its meanings are positive, happy and sometimes even humorous in nature! In this post, I will explain the different meanings that it has, with lots of examples of how it is used in everyday conversation and speech. So, without further ado, let's get started! Don't forget to leave a comment at the end! TAKE OFF: KEY INFORMATION MEANINGS (click to jump to each one) To remove something from a surface To remove an item of clothing To leave the ground and start flying To take leave from work To become successful To leave suddenly To deduct or reduce To imitate someone THE BASICS Before I explain the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'take off', let's first consider the individual words 'take' and 'off' and what they mean on their own. 'To take' is a highly versatile English verb that has a variety of different meanings depending on the context of the sentence that it features in. Personally, as a native speaker, the first meanings of 'to take' that I think of when I hear this verb are 'to grasp or hold something', 'to carry something with you' and one that is particularly relevant for this post 'to remove something from a place'. The English prepositional particle 'off' functions as the natural opposite of the preposition 'on' and can act as an adverb, preposition, adjective, and noun. When used as an adverb, it is perhaps most commonly used to add the ideas of a movement away from something or a an action that removes something from a surface. In phrasal verbs, 'off' can be used to convey the ideas of separation, leaving, reduction and separation, among others. So, now that we have looked at the basics, let's move onto the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'take off'... MEANING 1: To remove something from a surface Let's begin with a nice and easy meaning of 'take off', which is 'to remove something from a surface'. This usage is simply just the action of removing something from the surface that it is on, so that is is no longer touching or supported by it. The action of 'taking off' in this sense is usually carried out manually, i.e. with your hands. Grammatically, this usage is separable and while it is certainly used inseparably, I think that there is more of a tendency amongst native speakers to use it inseparably in spoken English. Can you take your shoes off the table, please. When I took the book off the shelf, I accidentally knocked off the vase. John put his coffee on top his car and then forgot to take it off again before he drove off. There are a couple of other more advanced and abstract uses of this application with the idea of removal that you should also be aware of. The first is when referring to a product or service that is on the market and available to the public to buy. If the company who is manufactures or provides it decides that they no longer want to sell the product or provide the service, they take it off the market so that nobody can buy it anymore. Furthermore, in some cases these cancelled products may even be taken off supermarket and shop shelves so that they cannot be sold. Due to poor sales, the company has decided to take this product off the market. Likewise, the same applies with television and radio broadcasting, in which programmes etc. are considered to be 'on the air'. If the broadcaster decides that they are going to stop showing the programme, it will be taken off (the air). After 30 years, we are very sad to say that a decision has been made to take the programme off the air this summer. Lastly, it is also possible for sports players to be taken off the sports pitch if it is decided that they can no longer continue to play the game, whether that be because they have developed an injury or committed a foul etc. etc. The player was taken off in fifth minute after committing a nasty foul. MEANING 2: To remove an item of clothing Our second meaning of 'take off' is more a continuation of the first, rather than a completely new one, as it means 'to remove an item of clothing'. In this case, we are again removing an object from a surface, however this time the surface is specifically our bodies and the object being removed is an item of clothing. You may already be aware that in English we use the phrasal verb 'have on' as a synonym of the verb 'to wear' and typically, we use this application of 'take off' for anything that we 'have on' our bodies. Of course, this covers the more general nouns such as clothing and clothes as well as specific items of clothing, such as coats, jackets, shirts, trousers / pants, socks, shoes etc. In addition to this, we can also use it for things like jewellery, watches, glasses and accessories. One notable exception for something that we can have on or wear in English but not take off, for obvious reasons, is aftershave or perfume. Please take off your shoes before entering the house. It was so cold in my office today that I refused to take my coat off. When Roger got home from his run, the first thing that he did was take off his dirty clothes and have a shower. My hairdresser asked me to take off my glasses when she was cutting my hair. When going through security at the airport, it is necessary to take off all your jewellery so as not to set off the metal detector. MEANING 3: To leave the ground and start flying Our third meaning of 'take off' is one that many of you will be familiar with and will likely have associated with this particular phrasal verb. This is especially so if you have ever flown in an airplane and it means 'to leave the ground and start flying' or 'to become airborne'. When we talk about an airplane, rocket, helicopter or hot air balloon taking off, we are specifically referring to the moment at the beginning of the flight when it leaves the ground and moves into the air in an upwards direction. In other words, it starts flying. This is something many people love (including me) and fear in equal measure! The airplane was about to take off when the pilot told us that we had to wait as there was a delay. Taking off is my favourite part of the plane journey, however my wife hates it and always gets really scared. No planes are allowed to take off during the hurricane for obvious reasons. As English is the international language of aviation, you will always hear this particular usage of 'take off' used in this way if you go on an international flight. In addition, you will almost certainly always hear the noun form 'takeoff' (alternatively 'take-off') being used too. Cabin crew, please prepare the doors for takeoff. Seatbelts must be worn during takeoff and landing. Of course, I have only mentioned manmade inventions in this usage, however you should be aware that we also use this application of 'take off' for birds, insects, bats and anything else in the natural world that is lucky enough to have the ability to fly! The captured bird took off whilst the cat was not looking and escaped into the sky. If you go to the mouth of the cave at dusk, you may be lucky enough to see hundreds of bats taking off. Suddenly, the swan took off and flew off into the sunset. MEANING 4: To take leave from work As I mentioned in the previous section, I love taking off in airplanes. Another thing that I love, which also involves taking off in airplanes, is going on holiday (vacation in US English). Like many other lucky holidaymakers, I have a job and so when I want to go on holiday, I have to to take leave from work and book days off, which brings us nicely to our next meaning of 'take off', which is 'to take leave from work'. For this usage, we require an additional noun to specify the time period that we will not be working, such as a morning, day, week or fortnight. Alternatively, we can just use the general nouns 'time' or 'leave' when referring to an unspecified period. 'Take off' is not necessarily always used for holidays or vacations and can be used for any period of time when a person decides that they cannot work for whatever reason, be it sickness, family commitments or a sabbatical. I've decided to take next week off as I have lots of things to do at home. Take the day off tomorrow and let's go to the beach! The doctor has advised me to take a few months off as my stress levels are too high at the moment. John won't be in the office until this afternoon as he has taken the morning off to go to the dentist. MEANING 5: To become successful Our next definition of 'take off' is one that we all hope for in our lives as it means 'to become successful'. primarily used for things like careers, a product or something that can become popular with the public. This is typically used in relation to careers, products, or anything that can gain popularity among the public and usually occurs abruptly and rapidly. To understand this meaning of 'take off' a bit better, let's stick with the ongoing theme and use the airplane as a metaphor for a pop star's career.... Whilst the airplane is on the ground, it moves slowly except when taking off and is not fulfilling it's primary function of flying. When it does take off however, it accelerates rapidly and flies high in the air with lots of energy, performing its intended function. Similarly, now imagine a pop singer's career as an airplane (weird, I know). Whilst it is on the ground at the airport, little progress is made and its primary goals of selling records and entertaining audiences are not met. Yet, once the airplane-shaped career takes off, it suddenly and quickly does so and before you know it, it is high up in the air, moving at top speed and achieving its objectives. In this case, the airplane is a metaphor for a pop singer's career, but it could equally be used for anything that can gain popularity with the public. Following the launch of our new marketing campaign, sales took off and our profits rose dramatically. Julia Roberts' career took off after appearing in Pretty Woman. If the company wants this product to take off in the way that their last one did, they are going to have to invest in some more market research. MEANING 6: To leave suddenly In the previous section, I explained how if something takes off, it can mean sudden success or popularity and for this next usage, we are staying with the idea of something happening suddenly, but in this case it is for when a person leaves or departs in a sudden or unexpected way. To put it another way, if you take off, you go away from where you are in a quick or hasty manner. This may be because you are scared, you want to avoid a confrontation, there is an emergency or perhaps you just want to go home. The reason for the sudden departure is not important for this usage, it is purely the nature of the departure i.e. sudden or unexpected that is important for this particular meaning. I'm not sure where Roger went. He took off about 10 minutes ago and didn't bother saying goodbye to anyone. The criminal took off before the police arrived. The dogs took off as soon as soon as they saw a squirrel. Sarah just shut down her computer and took off without saying a word to any of her colleagues. Lastly, it is also possible to 'take someone off somewhere', which is used for when you take a person away from the place that they are to another place. This can be either in a positive way... My husband is taking me off to Paris for a few days next week! I am really looking forward to it. Or a negative way, i.e. when the person does not want to go to the destination... The police took the suspect off to the police station for questioning. MEANING 7: To deduct or reduce The seventh meaning of 'take off' is definitely one for the mathematicians amongst you as it means 'to deduct' or 'to reduce' and is primarily used when talking about numbers, figures and percentages. When talking about numbers and figures, 'take off' is just another synonym of the verbs 'to subtract', 'to minus', 'to deduct' and 'to take away', however I think it is far less commonly used in this respect than the others. You are more likely to see and hear this application in use when talking about percentages being deducted from figures, however. We normally offer this customer list price with 10% taken off. That price is the list price. Don't forget you need to take off the 10% discount for the customer's net price. Are you able to take anything off this price? Another way that you may see this application of 'take off' is when something causes prices to fall. For example, if a busy road is built near to where someone lives, the price of their house is likely to decrease due to the noise and pollution that the road would undoubtedly bring. In this sense you could say, that "the new road will take a lot of money off the price of the house". MEANING 8: To imitate someone Let's end the post with a British usage of 'take off'', which is specifically 'to take someone off' and means 'to imitate or copy someone'. This application is generally used when you want to impersonate or mimic someone for comedic effect, i.e, to make other people laugh. This can range from copying the way that somebody speaks and their mannerisms to how they walk and dress. 'Taking someone off' is often slightly derogatory in nature and may often be considered as offensive or hurtful by the person who is being taken off. However, many of us Brits have a good and often self-deprecating sense of humour and this is not always the case, with some people finding it extremely funny or amusing. I guess it all really comes down to the relationship and the situation in each case! Sarah is really good at taking off our boss. She can do a great impression of her accent and how she speaks. The comedian's style of comedy is impersonation and taking off different TV stars of the past. He was trying to take me off but in fact he sounded nothing like me. We have now reached the end of this post and I just want to say thank you for clicking on my post and reading it. I hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'take off'. Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊 THE END

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Hold Out' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'hold out', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! 'Hold out' is a handy English phrasal verb to know and be able to use in everyday English. It has a number of diverse meanings, range from strength and resilience to secrecy and patience! In this post, I will explain the different ways that native speakers use 'hold out', with lots of examples to illustrate these for you. So, without further ado, let's make a start. Don't forget to leave a comment at the end! It's always much appreciated 😊 HOLD OUT: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Before we look at the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'hold out', let's first consider what the words 'hold' and 'out' mean on their own. First up, we have the verb 'to hold', which is a common English verb with several different meanings. Perhaps the first one that comes to mind when thinking of this verb is 'to keep something in your hand', however other significant meanings of 'to hold' are to support something, to contain something, to keep something in a specific position and to keep someone somewhere, so that they are unable to leave or escape. When used in phrasal verb constructions 'to hold' can often be used to mean 'to wait', which is certainly something that will feature later in this post. Next up is the prepositional particle 'out', which you will all certainly be aware of. 'Out' is generally used as an adverb and preposition to talk about being on, or moving towards, the exterior of something. When used in phrasal verbs, it often adds the idea of moving in an outwards direction and many phrasal verbs with 'out' do indeed carry this idea. Other functions of 'out' in phrasal verbs include completion, distribution and revelation. Now that we have looked at the different meanings of the constituent words, let's move onto the different phrasal verb meanings of 'hold out'... MEANING 1: To extend your arm Let's start off with a nice and simple meaning of 'hold out', which is all to do with our hands. If we hold out our hands, we simply extend our arms, so that our hands are in a position away from our body', as pictured here ➟ ➟ ➟ As we humans are highly complex creatures, there are a huge variety of reasons as to why we hold out hands. These can often differ between cultures and countries, however the most common reason for doing so, certainly in western culture, is an offer to shake hands with someone. She held out her hand in front of her to make sure her nail polish was on evenly. John held out his hand to Stephen to shake hands, but Stephen was not willing to forgive him. As I mentioned in the Basics section on this post, one of the main meanings of the verb 'to hold' is 'to keep something in your hand'. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise to you that this application of 'hold out' is not only used for our empty hands, but also to talk about when we hold an object in our hands and extend it away from our bodies. Again, this can be for a multitude of reasons, but is often in the sense of offering or presenting something to someone. Lucy held out her phone in front of her to take a selfie. Helen held out the plate of sandwiches to her guests and asked them to take some. The barman has to hold the card reader out to the customer so that they could pay. The midwife held the baby out to her mother so that she could hold her for the first time. MEANING 2: To last or endure If you are a regular visitor to my website, you may have read my post all about the phrasal verb 'run out' (if not, you can visit it here), one of the meanings of which is to describe when there is none left of something. Now, you may be wondering why I am talking about 'run out' on a post about the phrasal verb 'hold out' and the reason for this is because this second meaning of 'hold out' is in fact the opposite meaning of 'run out', or specifically 'to not run out'. This meaning of 'hold out' is therefore typically used in conjunction with nouns for things for which we need a constant or continuous supply in our lives, such as food, water, gas, money etc. as if we run out of these things, it can be problematic. Hopefully, our food supplies will hold out until the snow melts and we can get to the shop again. Do you think we have enough gas to hold out until we get to the next gas station? Moreover, this application tends to be used when talking about whether or not the supply of what you have will be sufficient for a specific period of time, or in other words, it will hold out until a certain date. Alternatively, you may also hear this when talking about supplies in difficult times or situations and whether or not the supply will be enough to last until the tough period is over. I was very careful with how much water I drank and luckily it held out for the duration of the marathon race. The miners, who were trapped underground, were praying that the oxygen would hold out until they were rescued. MEANING 3: To survive or resist something difficult What is your favourite movie genre? Personally, I love horror, fantasy and historical genres the most and the reason that I am telling you this is that this next meaning of 'hold out' is one that features a lot in these types of movies as it means 'to survive or resist something difficult' and in these movies it tends to be sieges of castles etc (perhaps not the horror genre, in this case). In order to help your understanding of this meaning, let's put it into context with an example. In medieval times it was a common military tactic for invading armies to besiege castles or cities, which meant that they surrounded them and stopped any people, food or water supplies from entering, thus making life within the castle or city so difficult that it eventually surrendered. As you would imagine, life in a besieged place was particularly tough, however in many of the documented sieges in history, they managed to hold out against the enemy. In other words, they did not surrender and consequently survived the siege until the enemy was defeated or went away. Aside from sieges of castles and cities, 'hold out' can also be used to talk about armies who defend themselves in difficult situations. Of course, in the modern world, situations like these are not as common, but regrettably do still exist and we can use this application of the phrasal verb 'hold out' for this. Luckily, you are much more likely to come across it in novels, movies and television series and so it is definitely one you should be aware of if you enjoy watching these in English. In the years 1848-49, the city of Venice was able to hold out against the siege by the Austrian army. How long do you think that they can hold out in there? One other time that you may hear this in the modern world is when talking about sport, when one team performs well or better than expected in difficult circumstances, i.e. against a much better team or with less players than normal. If the disadvantaged team manages to win or draw against their opponents, you can say that they held out against them. Leeds United managed to hold out against a much stronger Liverpool FC team and the result ended in a 1-1 draw. MEANING 4: To feel hope or optimism As the tone of the last usage of 'hold out' that we looked at was a bit dark and sombre, let's reverse that now with another meaning that is a lot more positive and means 'to feel hope or optimism'. This usage is limited to collocations with only a few nouns, mainly 'hope' and 'possibility', and is used to express whether or not you feel hopeful or optimistic about a situation or not. If you hold out hope for something, then it means that you still believe and hope that something will be possible. We are currently in negotiations with the council about holding the sports event in the park and we are holding out a lot of hope that they will agree to our request. The captain of the England cricket team is holding out the possibility of welcoming some of their old players back. Rescue teams have been out looking for the missing boys since last night but the police are not holding out much hope of finding them alive. MEANING 5: To wait until you get what you want Now we come to our fifth meaning of 'hold out' and for this we require the additional preposition 'for', giving us the construction 'to hold out for something', which means 'to wait until you get what you want'. For clarity, let's look at an example to illustrate this usage for you..... Sarah is 25 years old and has been single since she broke up with her last boyfriend two years ago. In that time, she has dated one or two guys but ultimately she turned them down as she did not consider them to be good enough for her. She is determined not to settle for the second best option and is therefore committed to holding out until she meets the right man who does tick all the boxes. As you hopefully understood from the example, there is a bit more to this application of 'hold out' than just the idea of waiting; rather it is a refusal to accept what is offered to you in the hope that if you wait for long enough, the desired option or thing will come. I've decided not to book a holiday yet as I am going to hold out for the discounted prices at the beginning of the summer. Steve has been offered several jobs since graduating from university but he has not accepted them as he is holding out for an offer from a Fortune 500 company. Kelly didn't buy the last smartphone when it was released earlier this year as she is holding out for the next one, which should be released in the next few months. For those of you who are into 1980s music, here is an absolute classic from the era featuring this particular usage of 'hold out'....enjoy! 😊 MEANING 6: To refuse to give information We have now arrived at our last usage of 'hold out', so well done for making it this far. For this final application, we require the additional preposition 'on', giving us the construction 'to hold out on someone', which means to refuse to give information to someone. This usage is an informal one and is used for when someone knows some secret or unknown information, but refuses to disclose it, especially when the information is valuable in some way or the other person has a strong desire to learn it. In other words, if won't tell you the juicy information, they are holding out on you! John knows who did it but he is holding out on me and won't say who it was. Come on, don't hold out on us! We need to know! Sarah was holding out on Roger as she didn't trust him with the information. In addition to information, 'hold out' can also be used in this way to talk about withholding other things that people urgently require, such as money or help. I need the money but the bank is holding out on me! Please, I really need this, stop holding out on me and give it to me. Sadly, this brings us to the end of this post and I just want to say thank you for clicking on my post and reading it. I hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'hold out'. Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊 THE END

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Let On' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'let on', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! 'Let on' is a rarer English phrasal verb that, whilst you may not hear every day, is certainly one that you should have in your active vocabulary to impress your English-speaking friends and colleagues. This is a much shorter post than normal as there are only three meanings and my hands needs a break from typing so much 😉. So, without further ado, let's make a start...don't forget to leave a comment at the end! LET ON: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS To begin, let's take the two words 'let' and 'on' and consider their individual meanings as independent words. Firstly, we have the verb 'to let', which is a common verb in English with several meanings. The most common of these meanings is perhaps 'to allow or permit someone to do something'. When I was young, my parents let me stay up until 8pm at the weekend. My wife won't let me watch television until I have finished the DIY. Another similar usage with the verb 'to let' is to not prevent something from happening. I can't believe you just let it happen and didn't intervene. Next up, we have the prepositional particle 'on', which is used as an adverb and preposition to mean to be in contact with, or supported by, a surface. In addition to this, 'on' has a very large number of different meanings and functions and is commonly used as an adverb, preposition and noun in the English language. Now that we have covered the basics, let's find out what meanings are created when we combine these two innocent little words.... MEANING 1: To allow someone onto something Let's begin the meanings of 'let on' with the easiest one, which is simply the combination of the literal meanings of the verb 'to let' and the prepositional particle 'on', i.e. to allow someone onto something. This application is quite limited in its usage because it can only really be used properly with nouns for things that we can physically or metaphorically be 'on'. What's more, this is further restricted as the inclusion of the word 'let' means that there must also be an element of permission from another person to be 'on' the noun in question. As such, you are most likely to come across this usage of 'let on' with public transport such as trains, airplanes and buses since these are all things that people can be 'on' and which you need a ticket in order to be permitted to travel (remember English is illogical and we use 'on' for these rather than the more logical 'in'). Other examples of nouns where you may come across this are things like fairground rides, furniture or roofs. On a grammatical note, for this literal usage, we almost always use it separably with the allowed or disallowed person or thing going between 'let' and 'on'. My husband was very drunk and the airport staff were not sure whether or not to let him on the flight. Lisa's daughter tried to get on the roller coaster but the staff wouldn't let her on as she was too small. I can't believe you let your cat on the kitchen table! In addition to physical objects and surfaces, we can also use 'let up' with non-physical or abstract nouns with which we use 'on', such as courses (training or education), programmes, websites and teams. I managed to convince the team to let me on the football team. Kate's school grades were not good enough and the university refused to let her on the course. My access to the internet at work is quite limited and they won't let me on certain websites. MEANING 2: To reveal something secret Ok, so let's now take a look at the first of the more abstract meanings of the phrasal verb 'let on' and this first one is 'to reveal something secret'. For the etymology fans among you, this usage has been around since at least the early eighteenth century and was first used to mean 'to allow some information to be known'. This usage has continued through to modern English, although it tends to be used much more frequently in the negative sense these days, i.e. 'to not let on', meaning that the secret information was not revealed. A: Did John know about his surprise party? B: If he did, he didn't let on. Helen never let on about her boyfriend's criminal past and to be honest, we would never have guessed as he was so nice. My manager says that he doesn't know why HR are calling all of the employees into their office but I'm sure he knows more than he lets on. So, we have identified that 'not let on' is often used for when someone keeps information secret and does not tell people about it, however it can also be used to talk about when someone hides their true feelings. I didn't realise that Lisa was so upset at the café yesterday. She didn't let on and I thought that she was absolutely fine. Roger was very angry with his colleagues but he didn't let on and remained professional all day. Lastly, this application of 'let on' is also used in positive statements, albeit much more rarely. When it is used this way, we tend to require the additional preposition 'to', to specify the person who received the previously secret information. Andrew let on to me last night that he has feelings for me. I didn't know what to say to him as I don't feel the same way about him! After months of secrecy, Margaret finally let on to her colleagues that she was leaving to start her own business. Write your own sentence with this application of 'let on' in the comments section here. MEANING 3: To pretend This final usage of 'let on' is a rarer usage that means 'to pretend'. It is not one that I hear very often, however it is definitely a good one to be aware of and have in your English vocabulary just in case! In the previous section, we looked at how 'let on' can mean to not reveal or hide secret information and so, in a way we already had the implicit idea of pretending, in the sense of pretending to not know something. With this application however, the pretending is a lot more evident as it it tends to be used to pretend that we know something or can do something, for example if you go to a job interview and tell them that you have many of the requisite skills for the job when in reality you do not. It's really for those people who like to tell lies about themselves in order to make themselves look or sound better in front of others....we all know at least one person like it! Of course, it is not always about making exaggerated claims and can sometimes just be used to make excuses e.g. you're tired or you have to work. On a grammatical note, with this application of 'let on', we tend to add a 'that' clause afterwards to specify the false or untrue information. He let on that he was tired but in reality I think that he just wanted to go home to play computer games. She let on that she was a famous singer but nobody in the bar had ever heard of her. I let on that I could bake cakes really well but then my mother in law asked me to bake one for her birthday and I had to admit that I was lying. We have now reached the end of this post and I just want to say thank you for clicking on my post and reading it. I hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new about the phrasal verb 'let on'. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'let on'. Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊 THE END

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Come Out' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'come out', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about English phrasal verbs! The phrasal verb 'come out' has a large number of different meanings in English, however luckily for learners, many of them are just variations on the theme of emerging from something used in different situations. In this post, I will explain all of these different meanings and the ways that they can be used, as well as idiomatic expressions and common collocations featuring the phrasal verb 'come out'. So, without further ado, let's make a start. Don't forget to leave a comment at the end with your own sentence using 'come out'. COME OUT: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Let's start the post by examining the individual words 'come' and 'out' and what they mean on their own. Firstly, we have the verb 'to come', which is one of the most common verbs in the English language and is used to refer to movement towards where the speaker is, was or will be. I am coming to your party this evening. John came to work an hour late. In addition to this meaning, it can also be used to mean 'to happen', 'to arrive' or 'to develop'. Moreover, it is used in many different phrasal verb constructions, with a lot of them having a meaning of coming, changing or ending. Next, we have the prepositional particle 'out', which functions as the natural opposite of the particle 'on' and refers to being on, or moving towards the exterior of something. 'Out' can be used as a preposition, adverb, adjective, verb and even a noun in English...it is very diverse! So, now that we have considered the basics of these two component words, let's look at what meanings they have when they are combined to form a phrasal verb.... MEANING 1: To emerge from an internal space Let's start the meanings of the phrasal verb 'come out' with a nice and simple one, which means 'to emerge from an internal space'. This meaning is purely the literal meaning of the combination of the verb 'to come', as in to move from one place towards where the speaker is, and the particle 'out', as in from an internal space to an external one. As I explained in the Basics section, the verb 'to come' is used to describe a movement towards where the speaker is and therefore for this application the speaker is always outside of the interior space that the person or thing is emerging from. As you can imagine, this application is typically used with nouns that people or animals can physically be inside, such as buildings, holes, boxes, rooms etc. The list is extensive! Aside from this, we can also use it for nouns for physical spaces with which we use 'in' in general, such as water, meeting and hiding places. We can even also use it with 'womb' to talk about being born. When I came out of the airport, I was amazed at how cold it was! I am worried about my friend. She has refused to come out of her house for several days now. Humans are extremely vulnerable when they come out of the womb. As I picked up my shoe, a big spider came out from inside it. Come out and face me, you coward! MEANING 2: To become visible Our second meaning of 'come out' is very much a continuation of the first meaning that we have just looked at and means 'to become visible'. This application of 'come out' is typically used in collocation with certain nouns for naturally occurring phenomena, many of which are found in the sky, such as the sun and stars. The idea behind this usage is that the nouns in question are not visible all the time e.g. the stars are not visible during the day, and so for the time that they are not visible they are hidden from view until the evening comes when they come out of their imaginary hiding place. As well as objects found in the sky, it is also common to use this application of 'come out' with flowers to describe when they bloom and their petals are visible. The clouds cleared and the sun came out. There was a clear sky that evening and the stars came out as soon as dusk arrived. The birds come out very early on summer mornings in order to catch their food. It is lovely at this time of year when all of the flowers come out. MEANING 3: To be made available for public consumption If you have a favourite author, then you will surely get very excited when you hear they are releasing a new book, or in other words that they have a book 'coming out'. That is because the next meaning of 'come out' is 'to be made available for public consumption'. This application refers to anything that is created and released to the public to be consumed and ranges from books, songs and albums to new products that are made available on the market. This meaning has developed from the usage of 'out' as an adjective to mean 'available to buy, see or consume', with the verb 'to come' here being used to add the idea of being or released or made available. The next edition of the newspaper is coming out tomorrow morning. When this song first came out I hated it, but I have grown to love it since then. My company's new product is going to come out next year, so we are working hard on our marketing and advertising strategy. On a grammatical note, as you may have noticed from my initial example, a commonly used construction with this application of 'come out' is 'to have something coming out' and this is something that I see and hear a lot in everyday spoken English. Also, note that 'come out' cannot be used in an active way, i.e. you cannot say that an author is coming out a new book'. Instead, you would use 'bring out' as a phrasal verb in this instance. Coldplay have a new album coming out next year and I am really looking forward to listening to it. I've checked my favourite author's website and apparently she has a new book coming out in December. Are you looking forward to any albums, books or creative works coming out? Tell me in the comments section here. MEANING 4: To become known In the last section, I explained how if something comes out, it is made available for public consumption and this next meaning of 'come out' is very similar to this as it is means 'to become known'. For this usage, the primary focus is on information, or more specifically information that was once secret or confidential. If this information comes out about a famous person, then it becomes public knowledge, or if the person involved is a mere mortal like you or me, then we would say that it is well-known. When the news first came out about the Queen's death, I was really shocked. If it comes out that I was involved in this, my career will be over! The information first came out in the newspapers and spread around the globe like wildfire. MEANING 5: To reveal your sexual identity Let's stay with the theme of revealing previously secret or confidential information for this next meaning of 'come out' as this one means 'to reveal your sexual identity'. This application of 'come out' is most commonly used to talk about someone who is gay or lesbian and who decides to make the information public to the people around them, or for celebrities, the public in general. This usage is in fact a shortened form of the expression 'to come out of the closet', which describes gay people no longer hiding their true selves or feelings in a fictional closet and whilst this expression can still be heard today, 'come out' on its own tends to be used much more. Moreover, if you use this form of 'come out' on its own without any reference to an internal space (except for closet), then it will be generally understood that you are referring to someone's sexuality. Due to the increasingly relaxed attitudes around homosexuality in many English speaking countries over the past 50 years, this usage of 'come out' has become more widespread in usage. Aside from sexuality, it is also used to talk about when someone reveals any sort of sexual preference or gender status such as transsexual, non-binary or asexual. John came out to his friends and family when he was 16. When Sarah came out as gay, nobody was really surprised or shocked, much to her relief. Coming out can be a very stressful and worrying process for many people. MEANING 6: To say something For our next meaning of 'come out', we are going to stay with the same theme of something emerging from an internal space. This time though we are talking about words emerging from your mouth, as this next meaning is 'to say something'. Firstly, this is not an exact synonym of 'to say' as it is not possible to 'come out a word', however it is more used to talk about your ability or inability to say something. One common way that this is used is for when you are unable to speak or say something or when you don't say something properly or how it was intended. When it was time to give my speech, I was so nervous that the words didn't come out. Every time I try to pronounce his surname, it comes out wrong. I am so sorry if I offended you, it came out wrong and i did not mean to say it like that. Secondly, if we want to use 'come out' to specify particular words or things that we have said, then we can add the extra preposition 'with', giving us the construction 'to come out with something'. We use this particular construction when someone says something unexpected, unusual or surprising. This can also often be something that may considered rude or may be a confession or revelation of some sort. It's essentially the kind of comment or remark that surprises or shocks the other people in the conversation. In the middle of our conversation last night, my husband suddenly came out with the fact that he wants a divorce. I feel so shocked! My brother told me he is moving to Australia. He just came out with it as if it wasn't a big thing. She came out with it mid-conversation and nobody knew what to say to her. Lastly, as I mentioned previously, the construction 'to come out with something' can be used when somebody confesses something or reveals something secret. Consequently, people often use this in an imperative form when they want someone to confess or reveal some secret information... Come on, I know that you know who committed the crime. Just come out with it. John, stop beating around the bush* and come out with it. What do you want to tell me? *To beat around the bush is a common English idiom that means 'to avoid talking about what is important or necessary'. MEANING 7: To declare a side Our seventh meaning of 'come out' means 'to declare a side' and is all about whether you are for or against something. The idea here is all about declaring or announcing that you are either in favour of something or in opposition to something, when your preference has never previously been made public or made known. This is usually used when talking about high-profile, famous or well-known people and their stances on political parties, political or social movements, conflicts, disputes, and arguments. Commonly used collocations that you are likely to come across with this application of 'come out' are 'to come out in favour / support of' for those who are for something and 'to come out in opposition to' for those against it. The well known media personality came out in support of the oppressed people and urged others to do what they could to help. The politician came out in opposition to the proposed deal with the nationalist right wing party. A large number of church ministers yesterday came out against the plan to cut funding to their charities. MEANING 8: To be removed (of a stain) There are many benefits of wearing white clothes; they provide coolness in hot weather, look clean and smart and they go with pretty much all other colours. However, one major drawback of them, especially for messy eaters like me, is that it is easy to stain them and is often quite difficult to remove the stains. That is what this next meaning of 'come out' can be applied as it means 'to remove a stain'. Now, of course this application of 'come out' does not just apply to white clothes and can be used for any colour of clothes, or indeed any stain on material or fabric such as a sofa, carpet or sheet. For other harder surfaces such as floors and walls, 'come out' can be used however, I think 'come off' is perhaps used more. I think that the reason for this is that for materials and fabrics, the stain is caused by a substance that sinks into the material and is not just sitting on the surface of it. When we remove the stain, we therefore make it come out of the fabric, whereas on hard surfaces such as a wall, the stain is more on the surface rather than inside it and 'off' would sound better here as the natural opposite of 'on'. Red wine stains will come out if you pour white wine onto them and leave it for a while. I've washed this white shirt several times on different temperatures and this stain will not come out. Oh don't worry about those pen marks on your coat, they will come out in the wash. Roger dropped some mustard on the cream sofa but luckily he scrubbed it and it came out straight away. MEANING 9: To go somewhere to socialise If you've ever spent much time in the UK or with British people, you will know that they like to go 'out' at the weekends. In other words, to go to a pub, bar, restaurant or nightclub (or a combination) with their friends to socialise, have a drink and relax. This next meaning is a British usage that is very much connected to this as it is simply 'to go somewhere to socialise'. Often this is used in the form of an invitation, where one persons asks another to join them when they go out or it can be used as a response to the person to say that they will join them. Remember that the verb 'to come' is used to refer to movement towards the speaker or a specified place where the speaker will be and in this case it is 'out'. Additionally, as a child before the days of internet and smartphones, I remember knocking on my friends' front doors and asking them if they "were coming out to play", which I guess is just the children's equivalent of the adult's socialising. Are you coming out tonight? If so, meet us in The King's Head at 8pm. Sorry for my late reply. I've managed to get a babysitter, so I will come out. Do you know who is coming out tomorrow evening? MEANING 10: To finish in a particular way We have now come to the final meaning of the phrasal verb 'come out' and rather appropriately, this one is all about finishing something. Now, it doesn't in fact mean to end something, but rather to be in a specified state or way when something finishes or at the end of an experience. Firstly, this one is often used with competitions, sporting events and polls to talk about who won or lost something, i.e. once the competition or poll has ended. The United Kingdom came out as the winners of the 1997 Eurovision song contest, following a very close vote. Tyson Fury came out as the eventual loser in his heavyweight title boxing match against Oleksandr Usyk. The votes have been counted and we are pleased to announce that the third design option for the new park came out as the most popular among local residents. Further to this, this application of 'come out' can also be used when referring to experiences and situations that people go through in life. I came out of the experience a much better and more well-rounded person. Helen came out of it feeling like an idiot. Sarah came out of her relationship with a new sense of self worth. We have now reached the end of this post and I just want to say thank you for clicking on my post and reading it. I hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new and that you've come out of the experience with more English knowledge than before. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'come out'. Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊 THE END

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Pull Off' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'pull off', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! 'Pull off' is a useful English phrasal verb to have in your active English vocabulary. Although it doesn't have as many meanings of some other phrasal verbs, most of the meanings it does have are very useful, especially for the drivers amongst you. Read on to learn the different the ways to use it in English, with lots of examples in context. Don't forget to leave a comment at the end! PULL OFF : KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS To start, let's take a look at the different meanings of the words 'pull' and 'off' and what they mean on their own. The verb 'to pull' is a common verb in English that means to apply a force in order to move something, typically towards oneself or in the same direction that the object exerting the force is moving. This can be either be when you are not moving and you force something towards you or if you are moving and you cause something to move along with you or behind you. John pulled his girlfriend towards him and gave her a big kiss. I walked through the airport and pulled my suitcase behind me. The horse pulled the carriage through the park. Often, when combined with prepositional particles to form phrasal verbs, 'to pull' can be used to mean 'to move', with the direction of the movement specified by the given preposition. The prepositional particle 'off' is the opposite of the particle 'on' and, like most particles of this type in English, it has a wide variety of different meanings and applications as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun and even a verb! It exists as the natural opposite of the particle 'on' and some of its main meanings include 'moving away from somewhere or something', 'stopping functioning' and 'no longer being on or in contact with a surface'. In phrasal verb constructions 'off' can often incorporate the ideas of separation, starting and, confusingly, finishing something...ah the strangeness of the English language 😀 So, now that we have covered the basics, let's move on to the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'pull off'... MEANING 1: To remove something by pulling it As this is the first meaning of the phrasal verb 'pull off' that we will look at, let's start with a nice and easy one. This initial meaning is a literal one and therefore is 'to remove something from a surface by pulling it'. For this meaning to be applicable, we first need an object to be on a surface. If we then pull the object in a certain direction, so that it falls off the surface or is no longer on it, then we can say that we have pulled it off. This is normally used specifically when there is a pulling action involved. It can sometimes also imply that some force was needed or used. I pulled the dirty sheets off the bed and put them in the washing machine. John accidentally pulled the kettle off the work surface in the kitchen and it fell on the floor and broke. Naturally, this is often used with flat surfaces such as tables, shelves and worktops but this can also be applied to any other surfaces with which we use the preposition 'on', such as a wall or clothes that are on your body. Susan tried to pull the clock off the wall but it was stuck there. I pulled my shoes and socks off and went for a paddle in the shallow water. This usage is not limited to objects, however, and can also be applied to people, both in a literal sense when a person is pulled off a surface by a force or if they are pulled off a sports team or a job etc that they are on. My dog is very strong and managed to pull me off my chair yesterday. The coach has pulled me off the football team as my performance has not been good recently. Roger was pulled off the flight before it departed as there was a problem with his passport. MEANING 2: To start moving in a vehicle The next two meanings that I will explain to you are both to do with cars and driving and the first of these is 'to start moving in a vehicle'. This application is used specifically to describe the first few moments when a vehicle goes from being stationary to being in motion. Furthermore, this is only used when the driver intentionally makes the vehicle move and not when it moves accidentally, such as when someone forgets to put on the handbrake when parked on a slope and the car starts rolling (I know people who have done that...not me!). Although we can use this application of 'pull off' with any type of moving vehicle, it is most commonly used with cars and other road vehicles. This usage is derived from the combination of the idea of moving that we get from the verb 'to pull', with the meaning of 'off' as in away from the stated place. Lisa put the key in the ignition, started the engine and pulled off. As I was pulling off this morning, I realised that I hadn't locked the front door. The police car pulled off and sped away down the road in chase of the criminal. MEANING 3: To stop on the side of the road We come now come to our second vehicle-based meaning of 'pull off'. Now, we all know how peculiar the English language can be and this is definitely a great example of its weirdness as this second meaning of 'pull off' is 'to move to the side of the road and stop the car'.  That's right, almost the exact opposite of the previous meaning! 🤦 I imagine many of you are scratching your heads in confusion at this, so I'll try and add some much needed logic here to explain why 'pull off' has two completely contradictory meanings. This can actually be attributed to the word 'off' and its many different meanings. In the previous meaning, we were talking about how 'off' is used to mean in motion, however the meaning of 'off' in this second meaning is not the same and actually means to no longer be on the road. In order to for this to happen, you must pull the steering wheel to the left or right. I stated at the beginning of this section that this meaning also involves stopping the car at the side of the road. Whilst this is true, it is also possible to use 'pull off' when you want to stop driving on the road in general, whether this be to go and get some food, to get some gas / petrol or have a short sleep. Furthermore, it can also just mean that you turn off the road and onto another one. The central idea is that you stop driving on the road that you are referring to. This usage is primarily an American one, but as is often the case, it would certainly be understood in the UK and other English-speaking countries if you used it. We pulled off the road in a lay-by to have a snack and a quick rest. Ok kids, stop moaning! We will pull off at the next service station so that you can go to the toilet. MEANING 4: To manage to do something difficult or unexpected Let's now move away from the confusing world of driving phrasal verbs and look at our next meaning of 'pull off', which is perhaps the most commonly used of them all and means 'to manage to do something that is difficult or unexpected'. To clarify this, if you pull something off, you succeed in doing something that people do not think is likely or possible. This may be because they do not think that you are capable of the task or perhaps because there are obstacles and difficulties which make the task hard or unachievable. In other words, this usage is all about surprising people and defying their expectations. The usage of this application is very broad and can be used to talk about anything from politics, where a politician is elected despite people thinking he or she would not be, and sports, where an athlete can win something against the odds to things like business deals that people did not think would ever happen. This usage is a separable one and can be used both ways without any discernible difference in meaning. Nobody thought that Susan would be able to bring up her children, work part time and study for a university degree at the same time but somehow she pulled it off! Despite being 3-0 behind at half time, Aston Villa were able to make a comeback and pull off a surprising victory, with the match finishing 4-3 in their favour! This is a big job and we don't have much time. Do you think we can pull it off? Lisa wasn't sure if she would be able to convince people at the party that she her name was Laura, but she pulled it off and none of the guests suspected that Laura was lying. MEANING 5: To masturbate manually I don't normally like to include slang or vulgar uses of phrasal verbs on my blog, however I do think that sometimes it is necessary to be aware of them to avoid risking awkward or embarrassing situations. This next meaning of 'pull off' means to masturbate and is usually used in reference to males. It can be used with a reflexive (self) pronoun or a personal pronoun, depending on the situation e.g. "to pull yourself off" or "to pull someone off". When talking about pulling a person off (as in the first meaning in this article), if you do not refer to a surface from which a person is being pulled or if it not clear from the context, then it is possible that you may be understood in this way. I don't want to spend too much time on this meaning for obvious reasons, however you should check out this video, which is a classic example of where this extra meaning can cause embarrassment, or in this case, laughter, even with native speakers. The man is trying to use 'pull off' in the fourth meaning as he is wondering if he will be successfully be able to impersonate the presenter at a Comic Con event, however it all goes horribly wrong. For clarity, what he should have said to avoid this error was "do you think I can pull it off?". We have now reached the end of this post and i hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new about the phrasal verb 'pull off'. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'pull off' (preferably not meaning 5). Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Stand Up' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'stand up', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about English phrasal verbs! This post is all about the phrasal verb 'stand up' and its different uses and meanings in English. I am sure that many of you are already familiar with at least one or two of the meanings of 'stand up' but do you know all of them? For instance, do you know what it means if something stands up to scrutiny or what it means if you've been stood up? Not to worry if you don't as in this article, I will explain to you how this strong and courageous phrasal verb is used in English, with lots of examples for reference and understanding. So, without further ado, let's get started. Make sure to leave a comment at the end and impress me with your own sentences! STAND UP: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Before we learn about the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'stand up', let's first of all let's take a quick look at the words 'stand' and 'up' and what they mean on their own. Firstly, we have the verb 'to stand', which has a few different meanings in English, but by far the most common one is to be in an upright position, so that you are supported by your feet. I was standing on a beach, looking out to sea. John stood on the table and gave a speech to the party guests. Another common meaning of the verb 'to stand' is used to talk about objects, buildings or cities and means 'to be situated'. London stands on the banks of the River Thames. A castle once stood in this spot, however it was destroyed many years ago. The prepositional particle 'up' is one that you will often find in phrasal verb constructions and is often used to incorporate the idea of a movement to a higher place or an increase of some sort. Aside from this, it can also add the ideas of completion and readiness, among other things. Now that we have looked at the meanings of the individual words, let's move on to the meanings of the phrasal verb 'stand up'.... MEANING 1: To rise to your feet from a sitting or lying position The first meaning of 'stand up' is a nice and easy one as it it simply means 'to rise to your feet from a sitting or lying position'. Whilst the verb 'to stand' normally means to be on your feet in an upright position, we use 'stand up' to describe the upwards motion of our bodies when transforming from a sitting or lying position to an upright, standing one. You should note that 'stand up' is used for any movement when we change to an upright position, except for when we first leave our bed in the morning to start our day. For this particular action we use 'get up' instead and 'stand up' does not sound right here. All of the students have to stand up when the teacher enters the classroom. I felt fine until I stood up and I had to quickly sit back down again as I felt extremely dizzy. Could everyone please stand up to sing the national anthem. The patient tried to stand up but his legs were not strong enough. CAN STAND UP BE USED SEPARABLY? In the table above I stated that this usage of 'stand up' is not separable as it does not take a direct object and while this is generally true, there is one exception to this....if you have an object that you want to put in an upright position, then you can stand it up. This would normally be for something that is normally in a supine or lying down position and which you want to make upright, either by leaning it against something or by changing the surface that is in contact with the floor. I stood my umbrella up on its end to let all of the rainwater run off it. Roger tried to stand the Christmas tree up several times but it kept falling over again as it was too heavy on one side. MEANING 2: To fail to meet someone For the second meaning of 'stand up', we have a classic case of heroes and villains.... Imagine that you have arranged to meet a friend for dinner at a restaurant. You arrive at the restaurant at the agreed time and your friend is not there, so you order a drink and wait for them to arrive but after half an hour they are still not there. You check your phone and they haven't contacted you to say they will be late, at which point it is probably safe to assume that they have stood you up. That is because the second meaning of 'stand up' is to fail to meet someone when you have agreed to do so. In the example above, I was talking about a friend not turning up when they were supposed to, however in reality, this application is used much more for dating, because most friends just don't do that to each other without a very good reason. Of course, in this situation there are always two parties involved. Firstly, we have the innocent heroes (good guys) who are the people who are stood up and when referring to them, we tend to use the passive voice. Moreover, it is common to use the passive forms 'be stood up by someone' or 'get stood up by someone' here. My date stood me up last night and I was sitting waiting for him to arrive for two hours in the restaurant. It was so embarrassing! Have you ever been stood up before? I thought it would never happen to me but I got stood up by a girl last week for the first time. She's blocked me on social media now, so I can't even find out why! Then, we have the horrible villains (bad guys) who stand people up and leave them waiting for hours (in extreme cases). For them, we tend to talk about them using the active voice and separate the verb with the name of the good guy or relevant pronoun going between 'stand' and 'up'. I was supposed to meet John in the new bar on Oxford Street this evening but I stood him up. Charlie was going on a date tonight with someone he'd been chatting to on a dating app but at the last minute he decided he didn't want to go and ended up standing his date up. MEANING 3: To be accepted as valid after scrutiny If you enjoy watching English language courtroom drama series or movies, then this next usage of 'stand up' might be one that you are familiar with already as the meaning is 'to be accepted as valid after scrutiny or investigation'. To put this meaning into context to help your understanding, let's use the courtroom as an example. If a crime has been committed and somebody gives evidence as part of the court trial, the evidence must be carefully examined, scrutinised and questioned and at the end of this process, if the evidence is proved to be true and correct, you can say that it stands up. Conversely, if it is found that the evidence is false or is not true, we can say that it does not stand up. It is quite common to hear the expression 'to stand up in court' used with this application to refer to something that is deemed acceptable or admissible in a court following close examination. Outside of the courtroom, 'stand up' can be used in this way to talk about other areas of life where investigations needs to be carried out and evidence or data need to be examined closely in order to be proven, such as police investigations and scientific explanations. If this evidence stands up, then we are pretty much guaranteed to win the court case. Following close scrutiny, this information has been deemed to be irrelevant and therefore will not stand up in a court of law. The scientific paper is currently being peer reviewed by other scholars to see if it stands up. If we want to specify or state a noun such as scrutiny or investigation here, then we require the additional preposition 'to'. The big question is whether or not this will stand up to scrutiny. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the decision stood up to judicial review. MEANING 4: To defend someone or something For our next meaning of 'stand up', we need to enlist the help of the extra preposition 'for' to give us the construction 'to stand up for something', which means to defend someone or something'. More specifically, if you stand up for someone, it means that you defend them when they are under attack or are being criticised. Generally, in this situation the victim may be perceived to be weaker than the person who is attacking them or not able to defend themselves in some way, so another person feels that they need to defend them. In general, if you stand up for someone, then you do so with words and you do not physically defend them. My best friend was always bullied at school and nobody ever stood up for him. As I mentioned, it is also possible to stand up for something and in this case the thing that we are trying to defend is usually something that is under threat and therefore can be nouns such as 'rights' or 'freedom'. If we do not stand up for our basic rights, we are at risk of losing them under this government. The defiant politician claimed in a fiery speech that he would stand up for free speech. MEANING 5: To defend yourself Meaning number five in today's post is also about defending and is 'to defend yourself' and for this one we require the additional preposition 'to'. My original intention with this fifth meaning of 'stand up' was to include it with the fourth meaning that we just looked at as they both mean 'to defend', however upon reflection I think it is better to include them as two separate meanings. Unfortunately bullies and mean people are a fact of life, and we can experience them anywhere from school to the workplace. In today's world, it is sadly very common for people to be picked on and persecuted in many different ways. The main idea with bullying is often a power imbalance with the more powerful or aggressive person or people seeking to harm or intimidate their victims who they view as inferior to them and vulnerable. Now, if the victim ever decides to refuse to let the bully intimidate them and defends themselves against the bullying, we can say that the victim 'stands up to the bully'. Essentially, this is the meaning of 'to stand up to someone', which I guess goes back to the idea that you stand up to the same height as the bully, can look them directly in the eye and show that you are not scared or intimidated by them. Furthermore, going back to the idea of the power imbalance that is inherent within bullying, it is possible to use 'stand up' for any kind of intimidation, bullying or mean behaviour from one more powerful person or group towards the perceived less powerful one. The next time that the boy threatens to hit you, you need to stand up to him and make it clear that he will regret it if he does. The defending army stood up the invader's aggression and repelled them. I know that I need to stand up to my boss when he is rude to me but I am terrified of losing my job. MEANING 6: To not be damaged by something For our sixth and final meaning, we again require the additional preposition 'to' but this time we are talking about things and objects rather than people and it means 'to not be damaged or negatively affected by something'. Typically, we use this application with buildings, roads and infrastructure and whether or not they are damaged or affected by things such as bad weather or extreme usage. The hurricane was severe but luckily our house stood up to it and was completely intact afterwards. Engineers are keen to find out how the old railway lines will stand up to the increased frequency of high speed trains that will pass over them. We have now reached the end of this post and i hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new. So, just to recap, standing up is generally good, especially if you have been sitting down for a long time, however standing someone up is bad and not a very nice thing to do. If you stand up for someone, you defend them and if you stand up to someone, you defend yourself. When something stands up to scrutiny or investigation, it is considered to be valid and acceptable and if your house stands up against a hurricane, then that is a very good thing as it means it is still there and not damaged! Now it is YOUR turn. Leave a comment on the blog post with your own sentence using 'stand up', comments or suggestions....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Get In' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'get in', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! This post is on the phrasal verb 'get in' and the different meanings and uses that it has in English. You may already be familiar with the phrasal verb 'get in', however it might surprise you to learn that it has at least 10 different meanings and uses in English...it certainly surprised me when I was researching it. In this post, I will explain the different ways that it is used by native speakers from arriving somewhere on public transport, to collecting debts and submitting votes. So, without further ado, let's get started Don't forget to leave a comment at the end! GET IN: KEY INFORMATION  For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS The phrasal verb 'get in' is made up of the super common verb 'to get' and the prepositional particle 'in', so let's just take a minute to consider the individual meanings of these words before we move on to the meanings of it as a phrasal verb. The verb 'to get' is a difficult verb for English learners and teachers alike as it has so many diverse meanings such as 'to become', 'to receive' and 'to understand', among others. The most relevant meaning of 'to get' for this post however is 'to arrive'. Moreover, when used in phrasal verbs, the verb 'to get' can be used to express arrival at a place or in a position, often when there is a difficulty or a process involved. I don't know how I got home last night! We finally got to Los Angeles at midnight after several hours' delay. 'In' is an extremely common prepositional particle in English, which normally refers to being on or moving towards the interior of something and this is often reflected in the phrasal verb constructions that it features in. When used as an adjective, 'in' can mean both 'trendy' and, more fittingly for this post, 'at home'. I knocked on your front door earlier but you weren't in. Now we've looked at those, let's move on to the meanings of the phrasal verb 'get in'.... MEANING 1: To enter inside something Let's start with the first meaning of 'get in', which is to enter inside something, typically a car or a building. He said goodbye, got in the car and drove away. Lisa got in the house by climbing through an open window Aside from these two examples, it can also be used to talk about entering any interior space, particularly when there a process involved or it is complicated in some way. My cat somehow managed to get in the washing machine. Luckily I found her before I turned it on. My son was playing hide and seek with his friends and thought it would be a good idea to get in the kitchen cupboard. I imagine that most of you will also be familiar with the variation 'get into', which is also frequently used by native speakers and is normally interchangeable with 'get in' for this particular meaning. You should note a small difference in usage between the two. As 'get into' specifies both motion and direction, you cannot end a sentence with it as it needs to be followed by a noun or pronoun, whereas it is perfectly possible to end a sentence with 'get in' as it doesn't have to be followed by anything. I tried to open the door and it was locked so I couldn't get in. I tried to open the door and it was locked so I couldn't get into the house. Lastly, whilst 'get in' is mostly used in an intransitive way without a direct object, it is also possible to use it with a direct object. Again, 'get into' could also be used here as an alternative. Although the potato was big, I was able to get it in my mouth. Lisa managed to get the baby seat in the car. The rat was able to get into the pipe and escaped. MEANING 2: To arrive As I mentioned earlier in the Basics section of the post, one of the meanings of the verb 'to get' is 'to arrive at a destination' and this second meaning of 'get in' means the same thing, however there are particular circumstances in which is it used. Firstly, we tend to use 'get in' with forms of public and mass transport, which often run on a timetable. These typically include airplanes, trains and coaches and we use 'get in' to say when these arrive at their destination, in particular when specifying the expected time of arrival. My train gets in at 3pm later this afternoon. Would you be able to pick me up from the station? What time does your plane get in tomorrow? Our bus got in a bit late due to severe congestion on the M25 motorway. Secondly, 'get in' is often used to specifically to mean 'to arrive home'. In this case, just the words 'get in' are necessary without the word 'home', as this meaning is normally implied and understood from context. Less commonly, this application of 'get in' can be also be used by people to talk about arriving at work. Once again, if the context is clear, then the words 'to work' are not necessary. I didn't get in until 7pm last night. What time did you get in this morning? John got in to work 30 minutes early this morning as there was no traffic. My manager was really late for work this morning. He didn't get in until 10am and he was late for his first meeting. MEANING 3: To bring something inside Another meaning of the highly polysemous verb 'to get' is 'to fetch something', as in to go to a place, collect something and bring it back. If this place is outside and we bring the desired item into an interior space, then we can use our third meaning of 'get in', which is 'to bring something inside'. This usage is quite broad in terms of the different possibilities that there are to use it as it can refer to bringing anything from an outside space into an inside one. For example, in the UK it is possible to have milk delivered to your doorstep overnight by a milkman and so in the morning, you need to the get the milk in from outside your front door. Alternatively, if you have ever worked in a bar or restaurant with an outside terrace, you will often have had to get the empty glasses and plates in once the customers have finished with them. It looked like it was going to rain, so the farmer decided to get his sheep in to prevent them from getting wet. Can you go and get the clothes in that are drying in the garden, please. Furthermore, 'get in' can also be used in a more broad sense to mean to collect or to gather something. Typically, this is collecting debts from people who owe money or gathering crops from fields at harvest time in late summer. How can farmers can get their crops in more quickly and efficiently at harvest? It is very important for businesses to get in their debts as quickly as they can to ensure that they have a healthy cashflow. MEANING 4: To be elected Politics may not be everyone's favourite subject but it certainly affects all of our lives. This is especially so when it comes to voting and elections and here is where the fourth meaning of ‘get in’ is relevant as it is ‘to be elected in a political vote’. For this usage, we can refer to a politician, a president, prime minister or a political party and if we say that they 'get in', it means that they have been elected to serve in office. This application comes from the idea that when a politician or political party is elected, they are then in a position of power, with ‘get’ again giving the idea of arriving in this position. If the liberal party get in at the next election, I will leave the country. Do you think the Conservative Party will get in this time around? When Margaret Thatcher got in in 1979, she promised to deliver change on an enormous scale. MEANING 5: To submit something Staying with the subject of politics and voting, in many countries it is possible for citizens who live in other countries or who are on holiday at the time of the election to submit a postal vote, rather than personally going to a polling station. In this instance, we could implement our fifth meaning of 'get in', which is 'to submit something', and therefore say that you got your vote in by post. This slightly more informal synonym of 'get in' can be used with anything that you need to submit, normally either by post or email. It tends to be used when there is a deadline for the submission and is therefore found alongside words such as 'by', 'until' and 'before'. Additionally, the extra preposition 'to' is needed when specifying the recipient of the thing being sent. Get your votes in for the student's union representative election by Friday at 5pm. If you want to enter to enter the competition, you have until midnight tonight to get your votes in to us. Lisa is stressing as she has to get her sales report in to the board of directors before midday and she has a lot of work to do on it. MEANING 6: To manage to find time for something The next meaning of 'get in' is an informal one thats means 'to do something within a particular period of time'. To illustrate this meaning, let's use the example of a mother of a small child. She works from home and for much of the day she is unable to do her work as she has to look after her young son, however when he goes for an afternoon sleep she is then able to get some work in for a few hours until he wakes up again. In other words, whilst the toddler is napping, she has the time to get some work done. As this usage is commonly used with situations where you need to do something within a time window, before a deadline or at a time when you are very busy doing other things, it is often used in relation to work or jobs that you need to do. However, you could theoretically use it in any situation in which you manage to do something in a set period of time, often that is outside of your control. Jamie went for a nap, which gave me a chance to get a bit of work in to keep the boss happy. Despite a busy day of activities, I was able to get some study in for my exam next week. I have a really busy morning tomorrow, so I don't think I will be able to get a gym workout in as well. MEANING 7: To enlist a professional's help At the moment I have a problem with the electrics in my house as one of the fuses has blown and now most of the lights do not turn on. As you can imagine, this is not ideal at night 😡! Anyway, as I do not know much about electricity and I am not an electrician, it is not safe for me to try and resolve the problem myself, so I will need to get an electrician in to do it for me. This therefore is the seventh meaning of 'get in', which is 'to enlist the help of a professional to do something for you, normally for a cost or fee'. The professionals that we get in to do work tend to be tradespeople who are hired to resolve a problem or to carry out some maintenance work and these include electricians, plumbers, builders, carpenters and even pest controllers etc. This is a separable usage of 'get in' and I would say that it tends to be used more commonly in the separable way, with the name of the professional going between 'get' and 'in'. You won't be able to work from home next Tuesday as we are getting the electricians in to carry out an upgrade to the switchboard. Lisa found a wasp's nest in her attic and so immediately got a pest control service in to deal with it. We need to get a plumber in to have a look at this leak as I don't know how to fix it myself. MEANING 8: To buy supplies Are you the sort of person who enjoys food shopping? I certainly am not, but I must admit that I do like it when it is done, I have bought some supplies and the cupboards are no longer empty. This brings us to the next meaning of 'get in', which is to buy supplies and is primarily a very informal British one. Although the term 'supplies' is used here to mean something that is needed or wanted in a household, most of this time with this application it refers to food and drink. Although this usage does mean 'to buy, we only tend to use it in certain circumstances. These are when we have run out of something and we need to buy some more and when we do not have enough of something and need to buy the amount that is required to meet our needs. We have run out bread and milk, so my wife has gone to the shop to get some in. I'm just going to the supermarket to get some supplies in as the cupboards are empty! We are hosting a dinner party tonight and we don't have enough cheese or wine, so I will go and get some in now. MEANING 9: To become friendly with someone For the next meaning of 'get in', we require the additional preposition 'with', as 'to get in with someone' means to become friendly with someone or a group of people'. To clarify, although this does mean to make friends with someone, it is not always used in the same way. If you get in with someone or with a group of people, it tends to mean more that you get involved with them and start spending a lot of time with them. It can often be used in a negative way, especially if the people with whom you get in with are a bad influence or not nice people. A popular expression that exists when someone becomes involved with a perceived bad group of people is 'to get in with the wrong crowd'. John's daughter has got in with the wrong crowd and her behaviour is terrible. Roger has managed to get in with his boss at work and is being treated really well as a result. Amy got in with a great bunch of people in college and still keeps in touch with many of them today. MEANING 10: To participate in a profitable activity We are now at the final meaning in this post, so well done if you have made it this far! This last meaning of 'get in' is to become involved in a profitable activity, or in other words, an activity in which you make a lot of money. Furthermore, this is always an activity that someone else is planning or organising that you can join or become a part of. For this usage, we require the additional preposition 'on', giving us the construction 'to get in on something'. Due to the nature of the subject, this is something that you will often hear in reference to investments, money making schemes and business opportunities. You should get in on this investment opportunity before it becomes too expensive to buy into it. Phrasal Verb Inc wants to get in on the company alliance. We have now reached the end of this post and i hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new about the phrasal verb 'get in'. Now it is YOUR turn. Can you think of a sentence yourself using 'get in'. Write it in the comments section below if you can, or alternatively any comments, suggestions or feedback that you may have....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Pick Up' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'pick up', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about English phrasal verbs! This post is all about the phrasal verb 'pick up'. When I was researching this post, I was quite shocked when I realised how many uses and meanings this innocent little phrasal verb has. For instance, it if you pick someone up from an airport, it has a completely different meaning to picking someone up in a bar, which also has a different meaning to picking someone off the ground. Moreover, if you can pick up an infection, it is a bad thing but it is a good thing if your health picks up! Don't worry if this is confusing, as in this post, I will explain all of the different meanings of 'pick up' for you, with lots of examples in context. So, without further ado, let's make a start. Don't forget to leave a comment at the end! PICK UP: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Before we look at the meanings of 'pick up' as a phrasal verb, let's firstly consider the meanings of the component words 'pick' and 'up'. The verb 'to pick' is a fairly common English verb with two main meanings. The first is a synonym of the verb 'to choose', while the other, more relevant, meaning is to remove or detach something, normally with your hands and this is commonly used when referring to picking fruit, flowers and plants. Helen picked some flowers and put them in a vase. Picking fruit is a popular job for travellers. The prepositional particle 'up' is extremely common in phrasal verb constructions and often adds an idea of an increase or a movement towards to a higher position. Furthermore, it can also add the ideas of completion and readiness to phrasal verbs! So, now that we have looked at the basics, let's check out the many different meanings of the phrasal verb 'pick up'.... MEANING 1: To lift something from a surface The first meaning of 'pick up' is the closest meaning to a literal meaning that we have and is 'to remove something from a surface by lifting it, normally by hand'. As you would imagine, the most common surface that people pick things up from is the ground or the floor, and this is often implied with this meaning of 'pick up', although it can potentially be used with any surface. Don't forget that the extra prepositions 'off' or 'from' are required to specify the surface and both of these can be used interchangeably. The sofa was so heavy that it took four people to pick it up and move it. I picked up my jumper and hung it in the wardrobe. Pick these toys up from the floor now! John picked up a book off the shelf and started reading it. In addition to objects, 'pick up' is often frequently used with people and animals. My husband picked me up and carried me to bed. John's dog wasn't able to jump over the fence, so he picked him up and carried him over it. The central idea here, which will recur again later, is possession. The reason for this is when you pick something up, it is in temporarily in your hands and therefore in your possession. For example, if I pick up a newspaper from a table, it is in my hands and I have possession of it, although I do not own it. MEANING 2: To collect someone or something If, like me, you do not have your own car, then it is highly probable that from time to time you need someone to pick you up when you need to travel somewhere and there is no public transport. That's because the second meaning of 'pick up' is to collect or fetch someone or something from a place. This is typically by car but can be used for other forms of transport. The idea here is that a person with a car drives to a place to collect someone and then takes them somewhere, whether that be home, work or somewhere else entirely (the destination is irrelevant here). The action of picking up is usually organised or booked in advanced and aside from a person picking someone else up, it is also possible to be picked up by a taxi, bus or other form of booked transportation. Our plane arrives at midnight and so my Dad has agreed to pick me up from the airport. Roger’s car is in the garage and he refuses to take the bus, so his wife is picking him up from work. The taxi has been booked and will pick us up from outside the shopping centre at 3pm. I am working today, so your Dad will pick you up from school In addition to picking up people, it is also very common to hear 'to pick up something', which is used as a synonym of 'to collect'. For example, a forwarding company will pick up a parcel from you, you might pick up your clean washing from the laundromat when it is done, or you may pick up your medication from the pharmacy when it is ready. I wasn’t at home when the courier tried to deliver the parcel, so now I have to go to the depot to pick it up. Your order is ready, so please arrange to come and pick it up at a suitable time. My medication is ready to be picked up at the pharmacy. MEANING 3: To learn something Have you ever learned a few words of a language just by being in the environment where it is spoken, without even really trying? If you have, then you could say that you have picked up a few words of the language. The reason for this is that the third meaning of 'pick up' is 'to learn something without trying very hard or without being formally taught'. In other words, you acquire this knowledge without much effort. This is commonly used with language but can also be used with other skills, for example someone could pick up basic electronics by watching other people do it or you might pick up the basics of needlework by practising it on your own and learning from your mistakes. Once again, this meaning goes back to the idea that something comes into your possession and in this instance it is knowledge or a skill. I lived in a France for a couple of months and managed to pick up quite a lot of French whilst I was there. My Dad was a carpenter and I picked up a lot of carpentry skills by watching him as a child. Through exposure to many different fields, industries and people in my career, I have picked up a lot of different skills. MEANING 4: To improve Our fourth meaning of 'pick up' is 'to improve' or 'to recover'. Unlike the first three meanings that we have just looked at, this one is used in an intransitive way (with no direct object). I would say that although this usage can be used in any area of life where we talk about improvement, it is most primarily heard in the world of business and economics. In business, it refers to improvements or upturns, when a company has more customers and business and is making more money, while in economics it signifies that the economy is growing and is generally viewed very positively as lots of rich people get even richer! Following a slow first quarter, business has now started to pick up and is predicted to continue improving for the rest of the year. Japan's economy is picking up slowly, however fears remain that the country could fall into a recession. Sales are picking up this year and so we hope to make a good profit. MEANING 5: To detect or notice something When I was younger, I used to have an alarm clock with a built-in radio in my bedroom. At the time, I lived close to an airport and every so often when I listening to the radio, I was able to hear the airplane pilots' communication with the airport as they were landing. The reason for this was because my radio somehow detected and received, or picked up, the signal. So, as you will now be aware, the next meaning of 'pick up' is 'to detect something' and is very often used used with machines. As in the case of my radio, with certain types of machine, not only does it detect a signal but also receives it. Other types of machines that you will hear this being used with are alarms, scans, microphones and radar as well as things like anti-virus programs on your computer which scan to try and pick up viral threats and malware. The scans did not pick up any signs of cancer in the patient. You may find it difficult to pick up this radio station in the mountains. Our CCTV system picked up some very strange activity outside our house last night. Aside from machines, this application of 'pick up' can also be used with humans, in which case this would be a synonym of the verb 'to notice', especially if something is subtle or not very obvious. You should note that when used with humans in this way, we normally add the preposition 'on'. In other words, if you pick up on something, you notice it. Apparently Helen had been crying when she came into the office this morning but I did not pick up on it at all. I've picked up on some tension between you two. Is everything ok? John is very observant, he picks up on anything like that. MEANING 6: To stand up after a fall Ok grammar fans, this next meaning is a reflexive one and means 'to stand up again after a fall'. If you're not sure about reflexive verbs, they are those verbs where the subject and object of the clause are the same and in English we show this with the -self pronouns (myself, yourself etc.). I talk to myself all the time. The dog grooms itself . Whilst 'to pick yourself up' can be used in situations where you literally fall over onto the ground, it is more often used in a figurative way to mean 'to take action to recover from a difficult, stressful or traumatic life situation'. I fell over outside my office in front of all my colleagues, but I picked myself up and continued like nothing had ever happened. Following a bitter and stressful divorce, Susan picked herself up again and started rebuilding her life as a single woman. I know that you feel very sad now, but you just need to pick yourself up and get on with things. You'll soon forget about this! MEANING 7: To be arrested Hopefully, this next meaning will never apply to any of you, as it means 'to be arrested by the police'. If someone is picked up by the police, it generally means that they have committed a crime of some description and are then caught by the police, placed under arrest and taken to the police station. This can be used in both an active and a passive sense, with the police picking up a criminal and a criminal being picked up by the police. Examples of usage.... The burglar was picked up by the police a few streets away from where the crime had been committed. My brother was picked up by the police, who falsely accused him of a crime he didn't do! Criminal gangs often use children and teenagers to carry out their work as they are less likely to get picked up by the police. MEANING 8: To meet someone romantically Although I have called this next meaning of 'pick up', "to meet someone romantically", it is actually a bit more than that. In this sense, if you pick someone up, you meet them by chance, start talking or flirting with them and end up kissing them or even having sex with them. You normally hear this usage when it occurs in bars, pubs and nightclubs or anywhere else where is my be a bit surprising or unexpected. This usage is quite informal and perhaps a bit more American to my ears. It is usually used in the active sense as in a passive sense it doesn't quite sound right to me. John always seems to be able to pick up girls without even trying. What's the weirdest place that you have ever picked up a guy? MEANING 9: To win something The ninth meaning of 'pick up' that we will look at is 'to win' and is used specifically when referring to awards and prizes. This meaning is just a nice synonym of the verb 'to win' and you will often hear it on English language news programmes when talking about big awards ceremonies such as the Oscars and the Grammys. Incidentally, we don't tend to use 'pick up' when referring to winning games or races. This movie is expected to pick up a few awards at the Oscars next month. I didn't expect to pick up the award for best manager tonight, so I just want to thank you all for your support and for voting for me. The company picked up the innovation prize for the third year running. Another time that you may hear this used however, is when referring to parliamentary elections. 'Pick up' is frequently used here to talk about the number of votes a candidate receives or picks up. The Green party are expected to pick up a lot of votes in the election this year. The candidate who picks up the most votes will be elected as the new mayor. MEANING 10: To refer back to something For those of you who enjoy debates, discussions and dialogue, this next meaning should be very useful for you as it means 'to refer back to something' and is used frequently in conversations of this type when someone wants to further discuss an earlier point that someone made. I'll give you an example of how this works. In a debate, one person speaks and gives three points as part of his or her argument. The next person then speaks in response and wants to refer to the first point that the first speaker made. He or she might then say, 'I'd like to pick up the point that you made earlier about XXX', to mean that they want to refer back to the person's point. The reason that they are doing this is that they want to comment on the point, refute it or develop it in some way. Note, that often the additional preposition 'on' is used, however this is not always required. I'd like to pick up what you said about the spending cuts earlier. I just wanted to pick up on the point that you made about the new legislation. MEANING 11: To resume something after an interruption Many of us love a coffee break when we are at work but inevitably we have to start our work again once we have had our caffeine hit and this brings me to the eleventh meaning of 'pick up', which is start something again following an interruption'. In terms of usage, this can be used for interruptions from anything as short as a lunch break to a break of a few years. The idea is that you stop what you are doing for a time and then start it again at some point in the future. You may often hear this application being used with the adverbs 'back' or 'again' or a combination of both of these. I don't know about you but I am ready for lunch. Shall we go and eat and pick this up again afterwards. Roger learnt German when he was at school but stopped when he left. He picked it back up last year after a trip to Berlin. MEANING 12: To criticise someone We are now at the 12th and penultimate meaning of 'pick up', so extremely well done if you have made it this far!! There is only one more to go after this! This final meaning of 'pick up' is 'to criticise someone' and for this we require the additional preposition 'on'. If someone picks you up on something, it means that they criticise something that you have said, or sometimes done. For example, a language teacher may pick their student up on their pronunciation of a word or a manager in a company may pick their employee up on the unsuitability of their clothes. 'To pick someone up on something' is a set word order and cannot be changed. I never pronounce my t's properly and my mum always picks me up on it. The strict teacher always picked up her students on their bad language. MEANING 13: To do someone else's work For many people 13 is an unlucky number and I personally think that it is far too many meanings for a single phrasal verb. Nevertheless, here we are at the thirteenth and final meaning, which is 'to do someone else's work'. This usage is particularly useful for those people who work in office jobs. It is used for when somebody is sick, on vacation or is not able to attend work for a particular reason and so another person has to do their work for them for the period in which they are off. Although this is similar to 'take on' and can sometimes be used as a synonym for it, 'pick up' tends to be just doing aspects of someone's role whilst they are absent, or all of their work on a temporary basis, whilst 'take on' tends to be used more for when you accept a permanent new job or responsibility within your existing role. Aside from a person's tasks or work within a role, it is also common to use 'pick up' when referring to someone's emails, meaning that you will read and action them whilst the intended recipient is unavailable. Who is going to pick up Wendy's work whilst she is off sick? John is doing jury service for the next fortnight, so Lisa and I are picking up his work until he gets back. Helen was on holiday last week and so I picked up her emails while she was away. IDIOM ALERT Before I finish the post, there is one more idiom that I want to make you aware of that features the phrasal verb 'pick up' and is in common usage in everyday English. To pick up the bill is an idiomatic expression that means to pay for something, normally used in a bar or restaurant. For example, if you pick up the bill in a restaurant, you pay the entire bill for all of the people on your table. A common variation of this idiom also exists: 'to pick up the tab'. Everyone left the restaurant, leaving me to pick up the bill for all 10 people! My teenage daughter doesn't understand the value of money yet and still expects my and my husband to pick up the tab for everything. We have now reached the end of this post and i hope that you've enjoyed it and have been able to learn something new. Now it is YOUR turn. Leave a comment on the blog post with your own sentence using 'pick up', comments or suggestions....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Take Out' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'take out', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about phrasal verbs! This is a post on the phrasal verb 'take out' and its different meanings and uses in English. I'm sure many of you will already be familiar with the phrasal verb 'take out', especially if you have spent time in the USA and eaten fast food there. Do you know the other meanings of 'take out', though? For instance, did you know that 'taking someone out' can either mean something very nice or very horrible, depending on the context? Or, did you know that someone can take something out on you, which may also take it out of them. I appreciate that this is very confusing, but don't worry as in this post, I will explain to you all of the different ways that 'take out' is used by native speakers, with lots of examples in context to help you understand and learn them. So, without further ado, let's get started.... PS Don't forget to leave a comment at the end with your own sentence using 'take out'! TAKE OUT: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Before we look at the meanings of the phrasal verb 'take out', let's first take a moment to consider the meanings of the individual words 'take' and 'out' on their own. Firstly, we have the verb 'to take', which is frequently found near the top of the lists of the most common verbs in the English language and which you will certainly be familiar with. The verb 'to take' has a lot of different meanings and uses in English, however the most relevant meanings for the purposes of this post are perhaps 'to remove something' and 'to carry something with you'. In addition to 'take' we have the prepositional particle 'out', which is normally used to refer to either being on, or moving towards, the exterior of something. When used in phrasal verbs, 'out' often adds the idea of movement away from the interior of something, as well as the ideas of resolution and exclusion, among others. Now that we have considered its constituent words, let's move on to the reason you are here and the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'take out'.... MEANING 1: To remove something from an interior space I always like to try and start these lists of phrasal verb meanings with one that is nice and simple and this post is no different. The first meaning of 'take out' that I will explain to you is 'to remove something from an interior space'. As I mentioned above, one of the principal meanings of the verb 'to take' is to remove something from a place and when we combine this with the meaning of 'out', as in moving from an interior space to an exterior one, it gives us the nice literal meaning of removing something from an interior space. This literal meaning of 'take out' can be used in many different areas of life. You can use it to describe actions as diverse as removing the trash from your house, removing the batteries from a device when they have run out and having a dentist extract a tooth from your mouth. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, the general idea is that something is removed from an internal space, so that it is no longer there. If you can remove it or extract it from an interior place, you can take it out. Examples of usage.... In order to clean the fridge properly, I had to take out all of the food so that it was empty. John went to the dentist last week and had five teeth taken out. We will carry out the operation today and then you will have to come back in two weeks so that we can take out the stitches. Take your thumb out of your mouth when you are speaking! I can't understand what you are saying! As I was taking the clean clothes out of the washing machine, I noticed that they had all turned pink. MEANING 2: To buy food and eat it elsewhere If you have ever spent time in the USA, then you may be very familiar with this next meaning of 'take out', which is 'to buy food and drink from somewhere and then go somewhere else to consume it'. It literally means that you are taking the food out of the restaurant. This is an application that you will hear mostly in fast food establishments where this usage originated and where customers are asked if they are eating in or taking out as standard. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic it has become more and more popular with traditional restaurants too (although perhaps not the 5-star ones). You should note that this is more of a North American usage and in the UK and Australia 'take away' is used instead (also carry out in Scotland), however 'take out' is absolutely fine in these countries and will be understood very well. Examples of usage.... Ok, so one burger and fries. Are you eating in or taking out? We bought some takeout food and went and ate it next to the river. MEANING 3: To take someone somewhere for pleasure Did you know that when functioning as adjectives, the particles 'in' and 'out' can be used to mean if a person is at home (in) or not at home (out). From this particular usage of the word 'out', we get our third meaning of the phrasal verb 'take out', which is 'to take someone to a place, for pleasure or fun'. This usage of 'take out' is all about treating someone or doing something nice for them. Normally, the person who takes out the other person will organise and invite the lucky recipient and, more often than not, will pay for them too. Most commonly, this application of 'take out' is used with bars and restaurants but can also apply to the theatre, cinema, museum or any other place where you may go for pleasure. It is important to note that we do not tend to use 'take out' for any overnight trips or holidays to a different place as 'take away' would be used here instead. Examples of usage.... My son is taking me out to London for the day tomorrow. Roger took Lisa out to the cinema last night. Can you babysit next Friday night for me? It's John's birthday and I would love to take him out for a meal as a present. MEANING 4: To enter into a financial agreement Do you own a car, motorbike or other vehicle? If you do, there is a very good chance that you have had to buy insurance for it at some point and this brings us to the next meaning of 'take out', which is 'to enter into a financial agreement with a company'. To clarify, if you enter into a financial contract with a company, for example by agreeing with them to supply you with a loan or a mortgage, then you can say that you 'take out' a loan or a mortgage with them. I'm not sure exactly where this comes from, however one possible suggestion would be that in the past, if you wanted to 'take out' a financial policy or agreement with a bank, you would need to go to the bank to sign the documents and take a copy of them out with you to keep at home as your own personal record of the transaction....who knows? It's possible I guess! This also covers when you buy an insurance or any other type policy with a company as well and in this instance you say that you 'take out insurance'. Examples of usage.... It is a legal requirement to take out home insurance when you buy your new house. I tried to take out a mortgage with my bank, however the application was declined as I did not have enough money. We took a car insurance policy out with a company, which has since gone bankrupt. MEANING 5: To kill someone So, as we established earlier in the post, if a person offers to take you out, then it is usually a good thing and you should definitely agree. However, if someone looks at you with an angry look on their face and threatens to take you out, then you should probably think twice before agreeing as it is more likely that they want to kill you or do you harm, which is the next meaning of 'take out' that we will look at. In addition to killing or murdering someone, 'take out' can also be used to mean 'to injure someone to the point that they cannot fight you back or will no longer pose a problem to you. This usage may have originated from the idea that someone is 'in' a fight or a game, and once injured or hurt, they are then forced 'out' as they are no longer to compete. Luckily for most people, the chances of someone threatening to take you out in this way are extremely small, however it is something that you may come across whilst watching English-language TV shows and movies. Moreover, this usage is a relatively informal one and not one that you are likely to hear in official or formal situations. 'Take out' can also be used to talk about destroying things rather than killing people and this is perhaps most commonly heard when talking about warfare and the military. Grammatically speaking, this application of 'take out' is often used in the passive sense with the verb 'get'. For example, if someone gets taken out by someone or something, it means that they are killed or prevented from continuing in a competition or fight. Examples of usage.... One of the most important aspects of this computer game is to take out as many enemy spies as possible. The boxer took his opponent out in less than five rounds. The army has taken out all of the enemy's ships. I almost got taken out by a falling tree as I was cycling home during the storm last night. Ok, so we have looked at the first five meanings of 'take out' now, so just take a minute to absorb them and let them sink into your memory. The next two meanings that we will look at all require an additional preposition to make sense....once you're ready to continue, scroll down ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ MEANING 6: To treat someone badly because you feel bad Have you ever been in a bad mood and then shouted at someone or treated them badly because of it? If you have, then you might say that 'you took your bad mood out on them' as the next meaning of 'take out' is to treat someone badly because you are feeling bad. For this usage, we require the additional prepositional particle 'on' and the construction is as follows: 'to take something / it out on someone'. We tend to use this application of 'take out' when there is a specific reason why we are in a bad mood. This could be anything from feeling tired, having a bad day at work, having an argument with somebody or feeling disappointed about something. Whatever the cause of our ill temper, the result is always the same, i.e. we behave horribly towards someone else, although it is not their fault. People are not the only victims of this negative treatment though, as it is also possible to take a bad mood out on objects or things, normally by abusing them or even breaking them as a way of getting rid of the negative emotion. Examples of usage.... When the England team lost the football game, John took his bad mood out on his friends. I'm sorry for yesterday. I was in a bad mood and I took it out on you. I understand that you have had an argument with your boss, but I will not tolerate you taking it out on me! Sarah had a bad day at the office yesterday and so she took it out on the punching bag in the gym later that evening. MEANING 7: To make you feel very tired For the final usage of 'take out', we are looking at a more idiomatic meaning, which is 'to make you feel very tired or exhausted'. For this we need the additional preposition 'of', giving us the following set structure: 'to take it out of someone'. If something takes it out of you, it takes away all of your energy and makes you feel very tired and exhausted. This can be used for anything that tires you out, from looking after children to speaking a foreign language for a long period of time. Don't use this for when you feel a little bit tired though, it should be reserved for really tiring activities that make you want to lie down and sleep for a few hours afterwards! Examples of usage.... It was Freddy's first day at school today and he was so tired when he came home; it really took it out of him. I love looking after my grandchildren but it takes it out of me! John has been training for the marathon this week and it has taken it out of him. Well this brings us to the end of the post. I sincerely hope that it hasn't taken it out of you! Before we finish, let's quickly recap the different meanings of 'take out' to ensure that they stick in your memory.... Firstly, we have the literal meaning, which is to remove something from an inside space. If you go to a restaurant, buy some food and then take it somewhere to eat it, you are taking it out. If someone takes you out, it can mean either that they take you somewhere for pleasure or that they want to kill you or remove you from a competition. We also use 'take out' with insurance policies, mortgages and financial agreements when we first agree to them. If someone has a bad day, they may treat you badly as a result and take it out on you and lastly, if something makes you feel very tired, it takes it out of you. Now it is YOUR turn. Leave a comment below with your own sentence using 'take out' or any questions or comments that you have....don't be shy! Sign up below to receive weekly phrasal verb posts straight into your inbox and be the first to access each blog post as soon as it is published! Lastly, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

  • The Phrasal Verb 'Come Down' Explained

    An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'come down', with lots of examples in context. Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about English phrasal verbs! 'Come down' is a common phrasal verb in English with a variety of different meanings. For example, you can come down with a cold, possibly whilst you're coming down from a weekend of partying. Alternatively, you may hear an an English speaker say that they are coming down to your city or that they will come down on you like a ton of bricks. If these all seem a little strange to you, do not worry as in this post I will outline and explain all of the different ways that this versatile little phrasal verb is used in English. So, without further ado, let's get started....don't forget to leave a comment at the end! COME DOWN: KEY INFORMATION For an explanation of the terms in the table, click here. THE BASICS Let's begin by considering the meanings of the individual words 'come' and 'down'. The verb 'to come' is one that you will certainly be very aware of as an English learner. It is primarily concerned with movement, specifically towards where the speaker is, was in the past or will be in the future. 'To come' is also regularly combined with particles, giving a large number of common phrasal verbs and expressions. It is an intransitive verb and does not take a direct object and this equally applies when it is part of a phrasal verb. As such, it is usually used for meanings where there the active agent initiating or causing the action is not specified. You will undoubtedly also be very familiar with the preposition particle 'down', which normally functions as an adverb and adjective in English. Commonly, it refers to movement towards the ground or a lower place, but it also has many other applications in English and, notably for this post, can be used to refer to things in written form, things that fall onto the ground and also movement towards a more southernly place. As an adjective, 'down' can mean sad or depressed and this is a theme that we will explore later in this post. So, now that we have covered the basics, let's check out the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'come down'... MEANING 1: To decrease Let's start the meanings of 'come down' with a nice and easy one, which is 'to decrease', and is specifically used to talk about prices and levels. This meaning of 'come down' is a combination of the movement aspect of the verb 'to come' with the particle 'down', providing us with the concept of decreasing. As I mentioned, this application is normally used with levels, specifically when referring to ones that can fluctuate (go up and down) over time. We don't tend to use 'come down' in situations where one person is involved and actively causes the decrease to happen, but rather when it occurs organically or naturally, such as levels of inflation in the economy or a person's heartbeat after jogging for twenty minutes. Examples of usage.... I am a diabetic and my sugar levels were very high earlier today, but luckily they have come down to normal levels again now. Is there any chance that the wholesale price of gas will come down again this summer? The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have gradually been coming down over the last two decades. During an economic recession, it is normal for the prices of many commodities to come down. MEANING 2: To fall and hit the ground The next meaning of 'come down' is another nice and easy one and is quite similar to the previous one, except that now we are talking about physical things falling, rather than prices and levels. To clarify, this meaning is 'to fall and hit the ground' and is again derived from the same meanings of the words 'come' and 'down' as the first meaning. As you can imagine, we can use this application of 'come down' with reference to anything that falls and lands on the ground, whether that be from a previously standing position or from the sky. As such, we often use this for the weather, specifically with rain and snow, especially in the UK! However, aside from that, this meaning of 'come down' is typically used when something falls to the ground because it is broken or damaged in some way and for this we can talk about fallen trees, an aircraft that crashes or collapsing structures. Again, similar to the first meaning, there is generally no direct human intervention involved or implied when something 'comes down'. Examples of usage.... A lot of snow came down overnight and many of the roads are blocked this morning. It is autumn and the leaves are coming down off the trees. A number of trees came down in the storm last week but luckily they did not land on any power lines. The airplane came down in the field and somehow the pilot and all of the passengers miraculously survived. MEANING 3: To be removed or dismantled One of the many meanings of the particle 'up' is to describe something that has been erected or is hanging on a wall. For example, if your Christmas tree is up, then it is standing in your house and if a picture is up on the wall, then it is hanging on the wall in an elevated position. As you will be aware, 'down' functions as the opposite of 'up' and therefore if a structure is no longer standing or if something is no longer hanging in an elevated position, we can say that it has 'come down'. This usage of 'come down' can be used to refer to any objects that are placed in a high position and subsequently removed, as well as for structures that are built and later dismantled. Unlike the previous two examples, there is human intervention with this usage, however grammatically we tend to omit the person or people who perform the action, which is inferred from the context. Examples of usage.... It is the January 5th today, so the Christmas tree and decorations will all have to come down tomorrow. I really dislike those curtains. They need to come down soon! The telecom mast came down last year as the company wanted to replace it with a newer one. MEANING 4: To travel to a place Every once in a while, friends of mine from Scotland contact me to tell me that they are coming down to England on a trip and they want to know if I will be available to meet up with them. The reason that they say they are coming down is because the next meaning of 'come down' is to travel in a southwards direction to a place. Interestingly, the opposite of this is 'come up', so if I ever go northwards to Scotland, I tell them that I am coming up to see them. Of course, we are not all geography experts, so this isn't a hard and fast rule, however most people have at least a basic idea of the locations of their major cities and tend to apply this usage naturally as they imagine their up or down movements on a map. To note, for this usage we only use 'come down' when we are talking to someone who is at the destination. For example, when my friends tell me that they are visiting me, they say that they are coming down to England because I am in England, however when they tell their friends who are in Scotland about their trip, they say instead that they are going down to England (unless the friends in Scotland are travelling with them). Examples of usage.... My parents are coming down to London this weekend to see me. John came down to Florida for a few weeks last summer and we met up. The next time you come down, please can you bring me some scotch whisky. My parents are going to come down with me to Melbourne next week. MEANING 5: To stop feeling happy or high As we are on the subject of trips to places, do you ever feel sad, low or a bit depressed after returning from a holiday or vacation? I often do and at such times I might say that I am coming down from the high of my holiday, because the fifth meaning of 'come down' that we will consider is 'to stop feeling happy or high'. To clarify, when used in relation to people, the noun 'a high' is used to mean a very happy and exciting moment and if you are 'on a high', you are feeling happy or pleased about something for example, your favourite football team has won the cup or you have had a job promotion. Moreover, if you use the adjective 'high' to describe a person, it means that he or she is under the influence of drugs and therefore is not able to think or act properly etc. Do you know the famous English expression "what goes up must come down"? Well, based on the premise of this, when someone is high, be it naturally or from drugs, they must eventually come down again, which generally means feelings of sadness and depression that are associated with being 'down'. Although this is used for people like us who often feel sad after vacations and holidays, this application of 'come down' is in fact primarily used to talk about people when they stop feeling the effects of drugs and alcohol, which can often be quite serious and damaging to their mental health. Examples of usage.... It was such a great weekend and it took me a long time to come down from it. If you're coming down, you should drink lot of water and practice breathing exercises. John came down from the marijuana and immediately wanted to smoke some more. Ok, so we have looked at the first five meanings of 'come down' now, so just take a minute to absorb them and let them sink into your memory. The next three meanings that we will look at all require an additional preposition to make sense....once you're ready to continue, scroll down ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ MEANING 6: To feel the first symptoms of an illness Don't you just hate it when you are feeling fine one minute and then the next minute you can feel a tickle in your throat and the first signs of an illness are appearing. When this happens, you can say that you are coming down with an infection as the sixth meaning of 'come down' that we will consider is 'to feel the first symptoms of an infection'. For this usage, we require the additional preposition 'with'. This is the only meaning of the construction 'to come down with' in English and the word order of this is fixed and cannot be changed. As you have probably gathered, this application of 'come down' is all about the initial period of an illness or a disease, when the symptoms first start to show and you go from being well to being ill. We only use it for infectious diseases such as coughs, colds and the flu that tend to be short-term and we do not use it for other types of diseases such as cancer. Examples of usage.... I'm not going to come with you to the cinema tonight as I think I am coming down with a cold and I want to stay at home and rest. We were supposed to go on holiday to Spain last week but the whole family came down with Covid the day before we were due to fly, so we had to postpone it. Lisa has come down with a nasty bug and won't be in the office today. MEANING 7: To be the most important factor We all have to make difficult decisions at times in our lives. Usually, when making these tough decisions, we have to identify what the most important factor is and then base our decision on it accordingly. This is where our seventh meaning of the phrasal verb 'come down' is required as it means 'to be the most important factor'. For this usage, we require the additional preposition 'to' and, as with the previous one, the word order is fixed and cannot be changed. As I stated earlier, "to come down to" normally applies to decision making, for example "what I decide to wear tomorrow will come down to what the weather is like" however we can also use it for situations, particularly problems and questions, where one factor is more important than the others. Examples of usage.... I'm not sure whether or not to sell the house. It all comes down to how money we will make if we do. The government are currently working out if they need to increase their expenditure but it will all come down to how effective the spending will be. Our problem essentially comes down to the fact that we don't communicate enough. In penalty situations, the result of the football game will come down to whichever team has the best goalkeeper. MEANING 8:To punish someone The final meaning of the phrasal verb 'come down' that we will look at is 'to severely punish someone' and for this we require the additional preposition 'on'. If someone comes down on you, it means that they punish you in some way for something that you have done wrong. Usually, we add an adverb such as 'hard' or 'soft' to describe if the punishment was severe or light. Examples of usage.... If he finds out what you have done, he will come down hard on you! Regardless of what she does, Roger always comes down soft on his daughter. The authorities came down on the criminals like a ton or bricks. We have now reached the end of the post, so let's quickly recap the different meanings.... Firstly, we can use 'come down' to talk about a reduction in levels and prices. A second meaning is to describe something that falls to the ground, is removed from an elevated place or is dismantled. If someone visits you from a place more northern than where you are, you can say they are coming down to see you and if you have taken drugs or have had a natural high and the good positive feelings start to fade, you can also say that you are coming down. Lastly, we can come down with an illness, meaning that we start to feel ill and somebody can come down on us, which means to punish us! Now it is YOUR turn. Leave a comment on the blog post with your own sentence using 'come down', comments or suggestions....don't be shy!!! Sign up on the form below if you want to receive new blog posts directly by email every week as soon as they are published. Also, if you found the post useful, please like and share it on social media. See you next time! James 😊

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