A question I get asked a lot is: How can I sound more like a native speaker in English? Being confident in English is not about knowing advanced words or grammar forms. A great way to improve your fluency and sound more natural at any level is to use phrasal verbs.
What are phrasal verbs?
Phrasal verbs are formed with a verb plus a preposition or an adverb, or both. For example, “put”, “put forward” and “put off” have totally different meanings.
English phrasal verbs are a challenge for English language learners because the meaning and use can be confusing. The phrasal verb “come up with” has a different meaning than the verb “come”. Because the meaning is different depending on which preposition you add, it is important to understand how to use the verbs in the right context.
Learning phrasal verbs to improve your English fluency
In business situations, English phrasal verbs can make you a better and more confident English speaker.
If you know English phrasal verbs you will be able to describe situations in business and in life more accurately. Adding the preposition or adverb changes the meaning of the verb, so you can better say and write what you really mean.
Learning phrasal verbs will also help you understand colleagues or business partners better in English. Native and advanced English speakers use them all the time. You might hear them at work and not really understand what they mean or how to use them.
Phrasal verbs are especially useful for business situations and I recommend learning many of them.
Below, I will show you some useful English phrasal verbs for business to help you understand what they mean and how to use them.
1. take on
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take on something
Example: I don’t want to take on too much work.
The phrasal verb “take on” means to accept a task, job, responsibility.
It is formed by the verb “take” and the preposition “on.”
When pronouncing the sentence, pay attention to linking the two words. There is no pause between the “take” and “on.”
There are two syllables in the phrase “take on.” The stress is on “on”, the second syllable.
2. work out
work out something
Example: They haven’t worked out what to do yet.
This phrasal verb means to find a solution. If you work out something you solve a problem.
You understand or decide something after thinking very carefully about it.
Just as the previous phrasal verb, the two words are linked, in the pronunciation there is no pause between the words. The stress is on the second syllable of the phrase: “out”
3. come up with
Example: We need to come up with a better way of getting new clients.
To come up with something means to think of or produce a plan, an idea, or a solution to a problem.
The verb “come” is followed by two prepositions: “up” and “with”
When you practice the pronunciation, pay attention to the linking between “come” and “up” in this phrasal verb. The two words are linked so that there are only 2 syllables. The stress is on “up.”
4. get ahead
Example: If you work hard, you will get ahead in business.
To get ahead means to make progress and become successful in your work, business or career.
You can say you are successful by using “get ahead in…”
- your career
- your work/job
Pronunciation: The phrase “get ahead” has three syllables. You link the two words and do not pause between them. The stress is on the last syllable of “ahead.”
5. follow up
Example: My boss said he hoped the meeting will be followed up by concrete actions.
To follow something up means to take further action connected with an event or action. Something is done to continue or complete something that was done before, such as a meeting, an email, etc.
When you practice the pronunciation of this phrasal verb, note that the words “follow” and “up” are linked. Then, the /w/ sound becomes stronger than if you pronounce “follow” by itself.
6. look into
look into something
Example: We are looking into the benefits of an expansion.
Looking into something means to research, to investigate, or to find out more information and facts about a situation.
When you pronounce this phrasal verb, the stress is on the first syllable of “into.” The words “look” and “into” are linked and there is no pause between them.
7. back out of
Example: The buyers backed out of the deal before they signed the contract.
It means to quit or to decide not to do something that you were going to do or that you had agreed to do before. The buyers had first agreed to the deal and then decided not to do it, after all.
When pronouncing this phrasal verb, pay attention to the linking between “back” and “out”, and between “out” and “of.” The stress is on “out.”
8. get in on
get in on something
Example: A British company tried to get in on the deal.
To “get in on something” is the opposite of the previous phrasal verb “back out of.” It means that you join an activity because you will gain an advantage from it. You start to take part in an activity that is already happening.
The stress is on “in” when you pronounce this phrasal verb.
9. put forward
Example: None of the ideas that she put forward have been accepted.
To put forward something means to offer or suggest something, such as a proposal, a plan, an idea, etc. for consideration.
When pronouncing this phrasal verb, the stress is on the first syllable of “forward.”
How to study the new vocabulary
To help you study the new words, I have created these flashcards. Here you can study the flashcards, practice spelling and take quizzes to memorize the new words:
Now, let’s practice the English phrasal verbs
Which of these were new for you? In which situations will you start using them? Comment below with your ideas!
Speak often and use these phrases. Remember, the best way to learn English phrasal verbs is to practice them as often as you can.