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Episode 6: Phrasal Verbs For Business I

Episode 6: Phrasal Verbs for Business I

I have received so many requests to go into a bit more detail on phrasal verbs, so I thought I would create a podcast series, and here it is!

In this first session, I explain some of the theory behind phrasal verbs, together with some of the reasons why you should be learning them.

In sessions 2-6 from the series (there are 6 episodes altogether), I will be going through examples of phrasal verbs in a business context.

In order to get the most out of this phrasal verbs series, please let me know if you have any questions!

All the best!


Here is the full transcript:

In this episode, I will be introducing phrasal verbs for business.

Hi there, I’m Paul Urwin and welcome to the business english community podcast where the world of business meets the english language. We discuss culture, strategies, techniques, vocabulary, grammar and much, much more. Find out more at

Hi there, Paul here and welcome to episode six of the business english community podcast. I hope you’re having a fantastic week so far and remember, if you already have an intermediate or an advanced level of english and you are looking to take your business english to the next level than this is the podcast for you.

This episode marks the start of a series on phrasal verbs. Well how did that come about? I’ve been talking to lots of people recently within the business english community via email and just in general it seems everyone wants to know about phrasal verbs. So I thought I would do a series on phrasal verbs. I wanted to do something a little bit different, a little bit more detailed and also, I wanted to do something that is focused on business english. We are the business english community and we try to give business related examples to everything that we do and that is going to include this series on phrasal verbs.

Of course, if you are not interested in business english but you are more interested in general english, then you should still find this series really, really useful.

Now, if you listen to a conversation or you watch a video or you read a text even you’re going to find that that particular piece of content is packed with phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are everywhere and not only are they everywhere, I think they lead to a lot of complications and confusion for non native speakers of english.

There is no need for all that confusion and there is no need for all that sense of being overwhelmed. I am going to help you to really get a grip on these phrasal verbs and I can assure you that once you have completed this series, you will feel much, much better about phrasal verbs, how to use them, when to use them, and really start to build up some examples in your phrasal verbs vocabulary.

Okay. Well how is this series going to work? It’s a series of six episodes. I wanted to do something really comprehensive. I wanted to do something really good, really great that is going to help you get over the phrasal verbs hurdle. There are many videos out there, there are many blog posts on phrasal verbs but I couldn’t really find a series that was going to help take students like you from having this level of confusion to really mastering phrasal verbs. And I know that’s quite an ambitious goal, but that’s what I intend to do in this series.

In this first episode of the series which is episode six of the podcast, I’m just going to give you an introduce to phrasal verbs. I’m going to explain a little bit about the theory. Now, the theory might not be the most important factor, but I think it is important to have an idea before we go into the examples.

And in the following five episodes of the series, I’m going to be giving you 10 examples of phrasal verbs in each one, so that’s going to be 50 phrasal verbs that we are going to cover in this series. I really hope it’s going to help you, I really believe it will. So right, let’s get started.

So, first of all, what are phrasal verbs? Phrasal verbs are also know as compound verbs because they are made up of two our more parts. Now, the exact structure can very. It might be a main verb plus an adverb such as to pick up, or it might be a main verb plus a preposition such as to look at, or to make things complicated, it could be a main verb plus an adverb and a preposition.

Now, I started straight away with a grammatical type explanation and I don’t want you to worry about that right now. I don’t think that is the most important piece of information when it comes to learning about phrasal verbs and improving your level. What is important is to understand that phrasal verbs are compound verbs made up of two or more parts.

Now, phrasal verbs can be transitive or intransitive or both. Now, what does that mean? Transitive or intransitive or both?

Now, a transitive verb is one that takes an object and an intransitive verb is one that doesn’t have an object. Well how does that work? Well, let’s have a look at an example. They looked up at the stars. They looked up at the stars. Well they, the subject, are clearly looking up at the stars, the object in this case. So that particular phrasal verb is transitive. It has an object. What about he wants to be a pilot when he grows up? He wants to be a pilot when he grows up. Well he, the subject is growing up, but he’s not growing up anything, he’s just growing up. So that is an intransitive example. He wants to be a pilot when he grows up.

And phrasal verbs, just to make things complicated, can be both intransitive and transitive and I think one of the best examples of that is the verb to wake up. She woke up at 8 am. She woke up. She just woke up, she didn’t wake up anyone else, she just workup up at 8 am. Intransitive. Compare that with she woke him up at 8 am. She woke him up at 8 am. In that second example, there is clearly an object and that is an example of the transitive phrasal verb. So some phrasal verbs may be transitive with an object, others may be intransitive, no object and others still may work in both ways, so again, that’s another little bit of theory for you, just before we get into the examples.

Phrasal verbs can also be separable or insuperable. Separable means the two components of the verb, the two parts of the phrasal verb are superable. Let me give you an example. So he picked up his son from school. The phrasal very is to pick up, to collect, he picked up his son from school, or because this phrasal verb can be used in a separable form, we can also say, ‘he picked his son up from school.’ He picked his son up from school. So that particular phrasal verb is separable, let me give you another example of one that is inseparable. I ran into Jenny last week. I ran into Jenny last week.

Weill you ran into Jenny, you bumped into Jenny as you were walking down the street and perhaps you said hello, that’s to, to run in to, but you cannot say, “I ran Jenny into last week.” I ran Jenny into. That does not make sene so that particular example is inseparable.

Now, this whole separable verse inseparable thing is one of the issues that makes phrasal verbs difficult, but don’t worry I just want you to be aware of the fact that they can be transitive or intransitive, separable or inseparable, but the piece of advice I’m going to give you to help you get over this phrasal verb barrier and to get to the point where you are able to use phrasal verbs effectively is practice.

Phrasal verbs can also be formal or informal and I think there is some confusion on this particular topic. First of all, phrasal verbs or the use of phrasal verbs, is extremely common in conversation. It makes the conversation more natural and if you listen to a conversation between native speakers, you will hear many, many phrasal verbs being used.

But when it comes to writing, I have heard the advice that you should not use phrasal verbs in writing. Well that advice is incorrect. That advice is wrong. You can definitely use phrasal verbs in written text and I guarantee you that if you pick up almost any text, you will find that there are plenty of phrasal verbs in there. And that guess right from informal text right through to very formal documents.

Now, there are a few phrasal verbs that are definitely informal and therefore you would expect to see them in written english. Let me give you two examples. One is to rat on, to rat on, which means to tell on someone, to rat on them. And the other one would be to palm off. To palm off, P-A-L-M. To palm off. To leave someone with a problem or to dump something on someone.

Now those two examples, those two phrasal verbs are definitely informal and therefore, you wouldn’t expect to see them in written english, but many other phrasal verbs can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

One example that really starts out for me is to carry out. To carry out meaning to perform or to realize. Now, I actually prefer using to carry out in many written situations, so I might write something like, “The evaluation was carried out successfully. The evaluation was carried out successfully. Now, that is a phrasal verb, that I a formal sentence and that works very well in writing.

So you can definitely use phrasal verbs in writing as well. You can use then in all forms of conversation, but you can certainly use them in written situations as well.

Phrasal verbs are everywhere, is my conclusion. Phrasal verbs are everywhere and that is why learning then and understanding them is so important.

It’s also difficult to deduce the meaning of a phrasal verb by analyzing it’s component parts. So a lot of non native speakers or a lot of english learners, try to deduce the meaning of a phrase verb from it’s two component parts. And while that is sometimes possible, on many occasions, it simply isn’t possible. The meaning of the phrasal verb cannot be deduced by analyzing it’s component parts, and that means, of course, that you have to learn them. That you have to learn them.

And not only do you have to learn them, but you need to learn them in a particular context. English is a wonderful ln complicated language, but really breaking phrasal verbs down into this theory and then analyzing them in context is really going to help you master the use of phrasal verbs.

One pieces of advice, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. There are thousands and thousands of phrasal verbs within the english language, so don’t think for one minute that you need to learn all of them, you simply don’t.

Learning and using, lets say 50 phrasal verbs can really help you to improve your level both in terms of understanding others and in using phrasal verbs in your own conversation.

Why should you learn phrasal verbs? Well because native speakers tend to use lots of phrasal verbs, so if you want to make your english sound more natural, more like a native speaker, then incorporating phrasal verbs into your language use is going to help you to do that. Also, it’s a question of understanding because if others are gong to use lots of phrasal verbs, then it’s important that you understand those phrasal verbs in order o be able to participate in that conversation or understand that report.

I think I would also point out that this phrasal verbs thing, if you like, it’s not a nice add on, it’s not a nice to have, it shouldn’t be some that is only for the very advanced learners of english. This should be for everyone and I think it’s a key part of progressing within you english learning process, so I would absolutely not shy away from learning phrasal verbs, let’s jump right in and lets make sure that you can use these phrasal verbs effectively.

Okay, so that brings today’s episode the a close. You will also not that in these episode on phrasal verbs, there will be no word of the week or phrase of the week. That’s because I really want us to focus on the subject of phrasal verbs. In the next episodes were going to get started with the examples, and don’t forget, let me guide you through. Let me help you to build up this phrasal verb vocabulary. Don’t let yourself get overwhelm, this is a very, very big topics, but we can tackle it together by looking at this strength step by step.

So we’re going to go through this whole topic of phrasal verbs step by step. If you do have any questions, please get in torch via the website. There is a contact form on the website, alterntatiey, you can send me an email to info,

Finally, if you enjoyed today’s episode, I invite you to checkout our online learning platform and community at The business english community is the essential resource for intermediate and advanced learners who want the take their business english to the next level. We offer extensive audio and video libraries, live webinars and ask me anything calls. And very importantly, an active community where you can get answers to all of your business english questions. If you really wan to take action to improve your level quickly, then sign up at That’s int form me. Thanks for listening, all the best and until next time.

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