Home > Blog > General English > Most Common Phrasal Verbs

In English, like bread and butter or tea and biscuits; a sentence using phrasal words really does make the world go around. You may not have noticed that you’re actually using them, most of the time – because a phrasal verb is a combination of a verb + adverb or a verb + preposition, mostly in the shape of just two words. Some would say that the modern, symbiotic English language adds more and more phrasal verbs every day.


With new ‘street lingo’, whether good or bad; being added to accepted speech so quickly nowadays, we don’t know whether we need to catch up, slow down or just pass out! If you hadn’t noticed, those were just three little examples of phrasal verbs. Let me explain.

Catch = verb + up = preposition. Catch up = phrasal verb.


Got it? Well here are the most common examples of phrasal verbs, based on 2016’s most commonly used phrasal verbs, in no order of preference. Keep up, please!


This is something almost everyone under the age of 80 does every day. In the growing age of technological dominance, devices require us to input information to get along with our daily chores.


While not something we at Explore English advocate, it has to be said that it is frequently used, often as a replacement for more profane, universally-offensive words. Years ago it would have been far more offensive, but with those offensive words becoming more and more liberally accepted, “shut up” is actually used as a way of expressing disbelief, replacing phrasal verbs such as “get off”, “come off it”, or “steady on” in everyday speech. Hence its place here.


A more cheerful, sociable one this time – used across the world for ‘spending time with somebody/ies’, this can also be referring to a place i.e. a favourite ‘hang out’. But, in its full phrasal verb glory, we prefer to hang out or hang around with its status as a friendly meeting from us at Explore English – and you, the students. The kitchen is a popular place, I hear.


“What happened to that document?” “What happened to you?” “What’s happening to the English language?” We could get very deep with this one, but as it’s only about the phrasal verb, we’ll leave you to the philosphical questions! All you need to remember is that it’s highly used.


As the first, the last is a modern tech-statement. If you’re in a lecture, waiting for a job interview, getting in touch with friends when other friends are also in touch with your friends, this is a phrase which has echoed louder and louder in the last decade. While “text back” is gaining momentum, the call (now slightly more anti-social via speakerphone) is still the communicative winner.