A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and a preposition, a verb and an adverb, or a verb with both an adverb and a preposition.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

52
votes
6answers
59k views

“Login” or “log in”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “log in to” or “log into” or “login to” Is there accepted terminology for the process of logging in? As a verb, would you say "Go to ...
28
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the difference between “maybe” and “may be”?

What is the difference in meaning and usage between maybe and may be? Are they synonymous?
23
votes
5answers
11k views

What does 'sucker for' mean?

I recently came across a couple usages of 'sucker for' which indicates that it means 'crazy about', 'enthusiastic for', or 'interested in'. For example, 'I am a sucker for sports.', seems to say, 'I ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Burn up or burn down?

What's the difference between "burn up" and "burn down"? Or is there a difference at all?
16
votes
2answers
4k views

Does “filling out” equal to “filling in”?

I quoted the following from a pamphlet: Please read the instructions carefully before filling out the application form. The application will be returned to you and the registration may be ...
15
votes
6answers
16k views

Why “go off”, as in “alarm went off”?

I was wondering why does something goes off, when it in fact does the opposite bomb goes off - it blows up alarm goes off - it turns on Why not goes on?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

“Writing things down” vs. “writing things up”

Is there any difference in the usage of "writing things down" vs. "writing things up"? Are they both correct?
13
votes
4answers
23k views

“Fill out a form” or “fill in a form”

Does one fill out a form or does one fill in a form? I've gotten different answers from the people I've asked. Google search results: fill in a form — 14,200,000 fill out a form — ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Difference between “run into”, “come upon” and “come across”

These phrasal verbs have a similar meaning (please correct me if not): run into come across come upon Are there any nuances to choose between them? For example, I might be wrong but I mostly see ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the origin of the phrase “turns out”?

What is the origin of "turns out" as it appears in the phrases below: It turns out As it turns out Let me know how it turns out What is turning, what is coming out, and from where? I can't find ...
11
votes
6answers
7k views

“Speak to” vs. “Speak with”

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the meaning of 'out' when it comes after a verb ?

What's the difference between a verb like read and read out or shout and shout out and so on? How does "out" change the meaning of verbs?
9
votes
2answers
316 views

Phrasal verb “be a thing”

I’m looking for the origin of the phrasal verb “to be a thing”. It means roughly “exist” or more specifically “be recognised” or “be a phenomenon”. I first noticed it around 2008–2009. Is ...
8
votes
7answers
14k views

How can I explain to people that the phrase “off of ” is grammatically incorrect?

How can I explain to people that the phrase off of is grammatically incorrect? I‘ve heard this phrase used a lot, especially by Americans (though they aren't the only ones). In my understanding, ...
8
votes
3answers
28k views

“Give up” versus “give in”

Do give up and give in imply different meanings?
7
votes
3answers
292 views

Usage of “stood up” to mean “set up”

I was reading this question on meta.ELU and was struck by what, to me, was a strange use of the phrasal verb to stand up: The site for English Language Learners was stood up in large part so that ...
7
votes
2answers
557 views

What kind of word is “place” in “take place”?

I'm currently analyzing verbs with Stanford CoreNLP and WordNet. I'm interested in particular in verb meanings. I came across sentences like "The scene takes place on the grass." and I found the verb ...
7
votes
2answers
352 views

“put X down to” vs. “put down X to”: subjects of verbs with two particles

I expect I would have to put down many coats to do the job. (SOURCE) One factor to distinguish phrasal verbs from prepositional verbs is particle movement. Phrasal verbs can place the particle ...
7
votes
4answers
642 views

How can I learn to get collocations right?

I read an article about collocation which includes an example: We can say highly sophisticated, and we can say extremely happy. highly happy and extremely sophisticated would be wrong. How can I ...
6
votes
2answers
436 views

What's the meaning of “dummy up”?

What does "dummy up" mean here? The cops wouldn't tell me who the owner was, but we're a military town, so I took a chance. Called my insurance (USAA) and as luck would have it, that was the other ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Why do we use 'up' as adverbs for verbs?

Why do we use up as adverbs for verbs? For example, 'wake up', 'throw up', etc.
6
votes
5answers
385 views

Is to “tell off” a particularly British expression?

I'm translating a short story from Spanish into English. A small child says (literally): Why don’t we knock?” I asked. “They’re gonna tell us off.” (The Spanish is: Nos van a regañar.) I've ...
6
votes
2answers
186 views

Which would be correct: “outputs” or “puts out”?

Which word should I use in the following context? Is the required before data? Any algorithm first reads data, processes (the) data and finally [outputs|puts out] the processed data.
6
votes
3answers
6k views

Phrasal Verbs. Rules and Tricks

Are there any rules or tricks that might explain how phrasal verbs are formed to understand their meanings?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between “she cut her hair” and “she cut her hair off”?

Why are we using off here? What additional meaning does it add? The meaning of off from http://tfd.com/off that suits this sentence is: "away (from a place, time etc.)".
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Why use 'step down' instead of 'resign'? Is there any difference?

Ozzie announced his plans to step down from his role at Microsoft on October 18, 2010
5
votes
3answers
514 views

“Climbed up over …” vs. “climbed over …”

I found that climbed up over is used in the following sentence of the 'excerpt' “The Amber Spyglass” in The New York Times. “Ama and her daemon climbed up over the rock shelves and around ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there any rule about splitting phrasal verbs?

I thought of this question right after I posted a tweet about a service upgrading me to a free student account since I am in college. I said "That really helps a broke college student out." I actually ...
5
votes
5answers
896 views

What does “turn off” mean here?

Could it be a typo for "and one by one they will be turned off"? CNN: Many of the existing space telescopes, Hubble included, are nearing the end of their lifetimes, and one by one they will turn ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the origin and earliest recorded usage of 'cock-up'

In informal British English, the expression 'cock-up' (c.f. the US English 'fuck-up') is used to indicate an error or problem in a situation. What is the origin of this expression and its etymology? ...
5
votes
2answers
334 views

Do you use “pore over”?

As in, I spent all night poring over those legal documents. Or, do you use pore through? Not to be confused with pour (some sugar).
5
votes
3answers
319 views

Developing a crush or infatuation

For "crush" in meaning: 2 informal a brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable What word would replace the terribly technical developing a crush? Does one only ...
5
votes
6answers
203 views

Can you “sound up a room” the same way you can light it up?

I'm trying to say that a certain individual adds noise to any place he goes. When someone, figuratively, enhances the mood of a room he enters we say "he lights up the room". Is there any way to use ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there any difference between “talk to someone” and “talk with someone”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Speak to” vs. “Speak with” Well, the question is in the title. I always had the impression that "talk to someone" refers to situations when some ...
5
votes
3answers
14k views

“Differ to”, “differ with” or “differ from”

In what ways are differ to, differ with and differ from different? Providing examples would be really appreciated.
5
votes
3answers
311 views

“Went” vs. “went along”

At work, he made up lies as he went along. At work, he made up lies as he went. Is one of the above wrong?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

“try” or “try out” (difference?)

What is the difference between "try" and "try out"?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of “end up” and “wind up”

What is the etymology of the phrase "end up", and of the meaning of "wind up" that means essentially the same thing? To clarify, I mean the specific meaning of "wind up" that means the same as "end ...
4
votes
8answers
400 views

How to express misusing a tool

I am not a native English speaker. I was wondering how to express the situation in which one uses a tool for something other than what it was meant to be, and in a bad way so that you are not doing ...
4
votes
3answers
22k views

What exactly does “sweep me off my feet” mean? (And why?)

Although the phrase "sweep me off my feet" probably means, "make me fall in love with you in a short time", what does it exactly mean, because "sweeping" can be difficult to be associated with "love". ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

“… is about to …” vs. “… is going to …”

I found that is about to is used in the following sentence of the news article titled “Tech belt sees hiring surge” in The Boston Globe. “The company is about to go on a hiring spree, from ...
4
votes
3answers
33k views

Does the phrase “who's in?” or “I'm in!” exist in (informal) English?

I really think I've heard it in some American sitcom/sitcoms, meaning something like participating in. "I want to play football. Who's in?" — "Great idea, I'm in!" Does it really exist, or am I wrong? ...
4
votes
3answers
455 views

What is the difference between “carry out a crime” and “commit a crime”

Do these both have the same meaning? John carried out a crime. John committed a crime.
4
votes
2answers
592 views

What do “wonk” as against performer and “Wonking out” mean?

Time magazine’s October 22nd issue carries the article titled “Paul Ryan on the campaign trail: More performer than wonk.” The article begins with the following lines: “Mitt Romney's running mate ...
4
votes
3answers
377 views

Meaning of “run around doing something”

What does run around doing something mean? For example: I can't see any reason to run around deleting the recovery partition.
4
votes
5answers
689 views

Looking for the opposite of “drill down”

I am a programmer working on a chart component that allows to drill down on selection of a node. Drilling down will show the details of that node (like its children etc.). But I am struggling to find ...
4
votes
4answers
94 views

What Does Strike a Chord Mean?

I am not a native speaker. From my reading and verbal communication, I came to believe that striking a chord means connecting to someone at an emotional level. However, I recently used it somewhere ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

What does “scratch below the surface” mean?

In Outlier: The Story of Success Chapter 2 Section 4, there is a sentence saying Is the ten-thousand-hour rule a general rule of success? If we scratch below the surface of every great achiever, ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Should we say “borrow from” instead of “borrow off”?

I hear and read the term "borrow off" frequently however I say "borrow from" as that makes more sense to me. Is it grammatically incorrect to say, "may I borrow the book off your friend"? In my mind ...
4
votes
2answers
192 views

Come to (regain consciousness) and pull to (shut)

I don't know if it's part of my regional dialect, but around these parts we use the phrase "pull to" to mean 'close the door all the way.' It wasn't until last week that it struck me as odd. Pull the ...