Below is a list of some common phrasal verbs used in business English. Some of the verbs are separable (the verb can be split by the object in the sentence). Other verbs are inseparable. The verbs with “someone” or “something” written in the first column are separable.
For phrasal verb practice exercises, please click on the links below.
- Phrasal Verbs Practice: “to ask around” through “to count on”
- Phrasal Verbs Practice: give/get/go
- Phrasal Verbs Practice: “to pass out” through “to use up”
Also, please check out this phrasal verbs conversation lesson which requires students to use the verbs below in a small group discussion.
Common Phrasal Verbs for Business English
|to ask around||to ask many people the same question||I need a good real estate agent. Could you ask around the office and see if anyone knows one?
|to back (someone) up||to support||Thanks for backing me up in the meeting.
|to call (someone) back||to return a phone call||We have a bad connection. I'll call you back in a few minutes.|
|to call (something) off||to cancel||Management is going to call the meeting off because so many people are out sick today.|
|to not care for||to not like (formal)||I don't care for team building activities. I think they are a waste of time.|
|to check in||to arrive and register at a hotel or airport||We checked in at 5 PM and then went to get something to eat.|
|to check out||to leave a hotel||We checked out a few hours late and had to pay an extra fee.
|to check (someone/something) out||to look at carefully, investigate||I'm not sure why the copier isn't working. I'll check it out.|
|to chip in (also to pitch in)||to help||We should be able to finish quickly if everyone pitches in.|
|to come across||to find unexpectedly||I was reading last night and I came across a couple of phrasal verbs I had never seen before.|
|to count on||to rely on||We have a great team. I can count on everyone to do their best.|
|to cut back on||to consume less||It's a tough economy. We're trying to cut back on unnecessary expenses.|
|to cut in||to interrupt||Can I cut in and say something, please?|
|to do (something) over||to do again||I can't believe I closed the document without saving. Now I'm going to have to do the whole thing over.|
|to do away with||to discard; to put an end to||They did away with bonuses last year because their profits were so low.|
|to drop by||come without an appointment; to visit briefly||John dropped by my office to talk about last month's figures.|
|to drop (someone/something) off||to take someone/something somewhere and leave them/it there||My car was in the shop, so Kevin dropped me off at my house.|
|to end up||to eventually reach, do, or decide||At first I thought I wanted to be an accountant. Then, I studied finance. I ended up getting my degree in management, though.|
|to figure (something) out||to understand; to find the answer||I can't figure out why the printer isn't working. I've tried everything, and it still won't work.
|to fill (something) out||to write information in blanks||There were a lot of forms to fill out when I got my new job.|
|to find out||to gain knowledge about something||I finally found out how to forward my mail from one email account to another.|
|to get (something/someone) back||to receive something that you had before||You can borrow my stapler, but make sure I get it back when you're done with it.|
|to get back at||to retaliate; to take revenge on someone||He might get back at you for asking him so many tough questions during his presentation.|
|to get in||1) enter|
|1) Get in the car. I'll give you a ride.
2) I worked late last night and didn't get in until after 9 PM.
|to get over (something)||to recover||I was upset that I didn't get the promotion, but I got over it after a while.|
|to get together||to meet (but not for the first time)||I try to get together with some old friends from college once or twice a year.|
|to get up||1) to get out of bed|
2) to stand
|1) I get up late on the weekends because I have to get up really early on weekdays.
2) He got up and walked to the podium to give his speech.
|to give in||to reluctantly stop fighting or arguing||Management didn't want to give in to the union's demands, but in the end they didn't have a choice.|
|to give (something) up||to quit a habit or quit doing a certain activity||I gave up checking Facebook at work. I'm trying to be more productive.|
|to give up||to stop trying||Just because we failed the first time doesn't mean we should give up. We just need to change a few things.|
|to go after||1) to follow someone|
2) to try to achieve something
|1) Pam will give her talk first, and Scott will go after her.
2) If we got the account, they would be our biggest client. I'm really going to go after the account.
|to go against||to compete; oppose||We're going against three or four other contractors. Be sure to bid low.|
|to go over||to review||I want to go over last month's numbers with you.|
|to hand (something) in||to submit (a report, a paper, etc)||I forgot to hand in my expense reports. Now I won't get reimbursed until next month.|
|to hand (something) out||to distribute the same thing to a group of people||I'll start explaining the changes while Jason hands out a copy of the new policy.|
|to hang on||to wait for a short time (informal)||Could you hang on for a second, please? I'll be right there.|
|to keep (something) up||to continue doing something||You've been doing really well lately. Keep it up!
|to let (someone) down||to disappoint; to not help or support||I was really depending on him to expedite the shipping on that order. The products are still in the warehouse. He really let me down.|
|to let (someone) in||to allow to enter||I forgot my badge again. Hopefully someone else is in the office and can let me in.
|to look forward to||to be excited about something in the future||I'm really looking forward to having an extended weekend next week.|
|to look into||to investigate||Please look into some ways we can cut costs. Every penny counts.|
|to look out for||to be careful, vigilant, and take notice||You must always look out for new business opportunities.|
|to look (something) over||to check; examine||Could you look over this report to make sure there are no mistakes?|
|to look up to||to have a lot of respect for someone||I really look up to her. She has been with the company for a long time and is really knowledgeable.|
|to make (something) up||1) to invent (a story, lie, excuse, reason, etc.)|
2) to resolve an argument or quarrel (not a separable verb when used like this). 3) to compensate for something
|1) I don't believe their story. I think they made it up.
2) Are they still fighting about that? I thought they had made up a while ago? 3) I didn't get anything accomplished yesterday. I'm going to have to work extra hard to make up for it today.
|to mix (something) up||to confuse two or more things||I always mix their names up. Which one is Bob, and which one is Brad?|
|to pass (something) out||to give the same thing to many people||Carly is passing out a schedule of today's events.|
|to pass (something) up||to decline (usually something good)||Don't pass up on this great opportunity. Place your order today.|
|to put (something) off||to postpone||I haven't done my taxes yet. I've been putting it off for a long time.|
|to put (something) together||to assemble||How long will it take to put the scale model together?|
|to run into||to meet someone unexpectedly||I ran into Stacey from Accounting in the supermarket yesterday.|
|to send (something) back||to return||The product was defective. We'll have to send it back.|
|to set (something) up||to arrange;organize||I'll set up the conference call and send you an invite.|
|to shop around||to compare prices||We should bid low on this one. They always shop around.|
|to sort (something) out||to organize or resolve a problem||There was some confusion with the new work schedule. No one is sure who works on Sunday. We're calling a meeting to sort it out.|
|to take (something) back||to return an item||She always shops there because she knows that she can take anything back that she isn't happy with.|
|to think (something) over||to consider||Honestly, I don't know what I'm going to do. The job offer is great, but I'm not sure if I want to leave my current position. I'll have to think it over.|
|to turn (something) down||1) to decrease the volume or strength of something (volume, heat, etc)|
2) reject and offer
|1) Could you turn your music down so I can take this call?
2) They turned down our proposal.
|to try (something) out||to test or use something experimentally||We're going to try it out for a few weeks and let you know what we think. If we like it, we'll place an order.|
|to use (something) up||to finish the supply||I can't believe it's only May and I've used up all my sick days already.|
For more business English vocabulary and useful expressions, please visit the Business Vocabulary section of this site.