Phrasal verbs you need to know at work

As a modern European language, English is generally not grammatically complicated, however it does have certain elements which are tricky and do not necessarily exist in other languages and one of these is phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are verbs which are made up of a main verb followed by one or more prepositions, and these in turn change the meaning of the original main verb. There are many phrasal verbs and many have more than one meaning (some have up to 4), so it’s vital to remember that it is not just a case of memorising one meaning and applying to all eventualities.

Bearing all of that in mind, don’t stress yourself out about not knowing every single phrasal verb in the world as it takes a long time to learn them. In today’s video class Robin is going to focus her attention on vital phrasal verbs used in an English working environment; they type you might find in an office or at the bank. She’ll also give you lots of great examples so you can practice them in context.

Before a meeting

If your boss wishes to cancel or delay a meeting there can are a couple of phrasal verbs which are commonly used to express this in English.

To call (something) off = To cancel something

Some of your colleagues couldn’t attend the meeting so it has been called off.

To push (something) back = To delay something / To move something into the future

It has now been rescheduled and pushed back to next month.

During a meeting

When talking about different topics in a meeting which are scheduled to be discussed, it’s important to remember the following verbs as they will most likely appear over the course of the meeting:

To bring (something) up = To mention

You want to talk about a particular matter so you bring it up during the meeting.

To come up with (something) = To think of something / Provide a new idea

During a work discussion, you come up with a great idea.

To take on something extra = To agree to accept additional responsibility

Your boss wants you to take on some extra work.

A typical day at the office

In English there are many day to day phrasal verbs which can be adapted to fit a work environment ranging from starting a piece of equipment to writing information and having a good relationship with people. Let’s take a look at a few with some examples:

To switch (something) on = To start a piece of electronic equipment

You switch on your computer when you arrive at the office.

To jot (something) down = To write information

You jot down what you need to do during the day.

To back (something) up = To make several copies of electronic files

You always back up your files.

To run out of (something) = To exhaust a resource / For something to be finished

It’s annoying when the printer runs out of ink.

To get along with (someone) = To have a good relationship with someone

You get along well with your colleagues.

To carry (something) out = To do something / To finish something

You carry out the tasks you are required to do.

If you’d like to listen to more phrasal verbs with “to get”, our resident teachers George and Del host a weekly show where they have fun chatting about all things grammar and vocabulary.

A busy day at the office

When you are going crazy at the office and having a very busy day, there are several everyday phrasal verbs which can be attributed to describe the chaos of a busy office environment. Why don’t we have a look at a few of these?

To stay behind = To wait longer (in the office) than was anticipated

You usually stay behind to finish work.

To get snowed under = To be inundated with tasks to complete

You get snowed under with paperwork at the end of every month.

To burn (yourself) out = To overwork yourself to the point of fatigue or illness

Be careful not to burn yourself out and become ill.

Speaking on the phone

As most of us nowadays have a mobile phone, we are generally familiar with phrasal verbs associated to phones and phone calls, but we also need to keep in mind that these phrasal verbs are very much so associated to a work environment too. We are certain you will have heard of the following:

To ring out = When the phone rings so much the line goes dead and nobody answers

It’s frustrating when you need to speak to someone and their phone is ringing out because they are not able to answer it.

To pick up = The lift (the phone) = To answer the phone

Sometimes, you feel like all you are doing is picking up the phone in work.

To get through (to someone) = To be able to reach someone to speak to them

When people can’t get through, they call back later.

Recruiting staff

Like we have seen throughout the length of this post, there are a lot of everyday phrasal verbs which are commonplace in a work environment and when it comes to a company recruiting new members of staff, we follow the same pattern. Have a look at the following examples:

To take on (more staff)  = To hire more staff / To recruit more staff

The company is growing, we need to take on more staff.

To fill in (a position) = To provide cover for a position

We need to fill in 5 new positions

To lay off (someone) = To let someone go due to position no longer being available

It’s good news because we won’t need to lay off any staff.

How can you continue to practise?

ABA English offer a full comprehensive English course which is free to sign up to. Starting from beginners, the complete course goes right up to business level. Just by signing up to the course for free you will get an incredible unlimited access to 144 video classes which will help you significantly improve your use of grammar and understanding of the English language. Don’t put English off anymore and sign up for free today and start improving your English.


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