37 Common Phrasal Verbs at Work

37 Common Phrasal Verbs at Work

Phrasal verbs can be tricky, especially for non-native speakers. Nevertheless, those who aspire to find a job in an English-speaking country or already apply their professional skills in an English-speaking environment need to know them. At least, essential ones.

So, if you want to make your English speech more nativelike and feel more confident at work, this blog post is exactly what you need. Let’s start!

abide by

Meaning: to accept and comply with a rule

Example: All newly hired employees have to get familiarized with internal company rules they have to abide by.

back up

Meaning: to make a copy of the information on a PC (documents, files and programs) to avoid losing it.

Example: My laptop has crashed. Luckily, I’ve backed up all my files, so I can recover them later.

book up (booked up)

Meaning: When someone or something is booked up, they have no spare time or

space, so they’re unable to offer any appointments or accept any reservations.

Example: My boss is fully booked up for this week. Do you want to make an appointment early next week?

bring forward

Meaning: move a meeting or event to an earlier date or time than it was planned

Example: Please bring the next month’s meeting forward to the end of the current month.

bring up

Meaning: to mention a subject or start to talk about it

Example: I’m going to bring up my proposal for the project in today’s meeting.

burn out

Meaning: to become extremely exhausted or ill due to overwork or stress 

Example: Even after quitting her stressful job, Martha felt burnt out for a month. 

call off

Meaning: to cancel an event or agreement 

Example: He’s called off the meeting at the last minute.

carry out

Meaning: to perform a task

Example: We have to carry out our mental health research next month.

close down

Meaning: cease business permanently

Example: He admitted that it’s time to close down his company. 

come up with

Meaning: to suggest or think of an idea or plan

Example: After an hour-long video conference call we’ve finally come up with a solution.

contract out to

Meaning: to employ other companies to perform a job instead of your company

Example: We’ve decided to contract out IT services to a highly-reliable IT company.

copy in (somebody)

Meaning: to send someone a copy of an email you are sending to someone else

Example: I’ll copy you in on the correspondence related to this project.

draw up

Meaning: prepare a plan or any other document

Example: I’ve finally drawn up a detailed business plan.

fall through

Meaning: to not happen, fail

Example: The deal fell through because our main competitor made a better offer.

fill in for (somebody)

Meaning: to do someone’s work because they are away; to substitute for someone

Example: I’ll have to fill in for Andrew until he gets back.

fill out

Meaning: to complete a form or document

Example: To sign up, you have to fill out an online application first.

get back to

Meaning: to contact someone later or reply to a message

Example: I’ll get back to you as soon as I figure out who was in charge of carrying out the report.

go over

Meaning: examine or check something

Example: Today we’re going to go over their proposal with great attention.

jot down

Meaning: to write something briefly and quickly on a piece of paper so that you remember it

Example: I was jotting down every word he said during his presentation.

lay off

Meaning: to stop employing a worker temporarily or permanently because of a shortage of work

Example: Many employees were laid off during the pandemic crisis.

meet up

Meaning: to see another person or group to discuss something

Example: Mary and I met up for lunch to discuss our business plan.

pencil in

Meaning: to provisionally put someone or something on a schedule, calendar or list

Example: Sarah, could you please pencil me in for Monday morning at 10:30?

point out

Meaning: to make someone aware of something or call attention to it

Example: He pointed out that our AI strategy needs to be slightly pivoted.

push back

Meaning: to delay or postpone something until a later time or date

Example: The date for the conference has been pushed back until next week.

put off

Meaning: to postpone something

Example: I’ll have to put our meeting off since I might get Covid.

reach out (to)

Meaning: to contact someone by phone or email

Example: Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.

report back (to)

Meaning: to bring information to someone in authority

Example: Report back to me as soon as you finish your research.

sign up

Meaning: to sign one’s name to get, do, or join something

Example: Today our company has signed up with six marketing influencers to promote our product.

slack off

Meaning: to do something with less effort or energy than usual, to become less active

Example: If you feel you’re slacking off at work, you might experience burnout.

snowed under

Meaning: To be very busy or overwhelmed with something

Example: After these two projects started at the same time, I’m constantly snowed under reports.

stay behind

Meaning: to stay late at work after everyone else has left

Example: Alice, you can go, I’m going to stay behind to finish my research.

step down

Meaning: to resign from an important position 

Example: He stepped down as a CTO a month ago. 

take on

Meaning: agree to do some work or be responsible for it; employ 

Example: Luke, I don’t have the time to take on one more project now.

take over

Meaning: take control of something

Example: This corporation has taken over 3 promising startups within one year.

team up

Meaning: to join someone to do something together

Example: Guys, let’s team up and finish this project today.

turn down

Meaning: to reject something offered or proposed

Example: I’ve turned down this job offer because the salary was too low.

work out

Meaning: solve a problem

Example: We need to work out a plan to finally get rid of the issue.

That’s it! What phrasal verbs do you use at work?

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