Tag Archives: vocabulary

Business Phrasal Verbs: Learn English Vocabulary

Business Phrasal Verbs

This post looks at phrasal verbs, in particular, business phrasal verbs.  A phrasal verb is a phrase describing a usually single worded verb in more than one word.  They can be made using a verb and an adverb or a proposition, or both.


Phrasal verbs are not usually used in formal, academic writing or business contracts.  However, they are very common in everyday English and often used in business situations such as emails, memos, conversation and small-talk.


Most phrasal verbs, but not all, have the same meaning as another verb.  For example,

Make up = to invent

My grandad was always good at making up funny stories. We used to listen to his stories for hours.

Some phrasal verbs have more than one meaning:

Make up = to invent (to create something or think of something that is completely new)

Make up = to reconcile (to become friends again with someone after an argument or disagreement)


Phrasal Verbs




Branch out

Expand a business (often into a different area of trade/business)



Our range of sports equipment is selling well. We thought we might branch out into sportswear. 



Back up

Make a copy of files etc on a computer



Don’t forget to back everything up before you leave tonight.



Call back

Return a telephone call


I’m afraid she’s in a meeting.  Can I ask her to call you back?



Call off

Cancel or stop something from happening



We need to call off tomorrow’s trip to Head Office. The boss is ill.



Carry on



I don’t think we can carry on with our plans to buy the new factory.



Carry out

Do something (especially something you said you would do)



We can’t stop now.  We need to carry out the plans to build a new office. 


Come up with




Think of (usually an idea, plan or suggestion)


Can anyone come up with an idea for the Christmas party this year?


Deal with

Meet or talk to someone (usually as part of your job)



I had to deal with some very difficult clients today.  I’m exhausted.



Fill out/in

Complete a form


He needs to fill out an application form.



Hold on



Can you hold on, please, I need to get my diary.



Lay off

To make someone redundant


The company is losing money. I hope they don’t have to lay anybody off.




Note down

Make a note of something/write something down



I forgot to take a note of his name and address.


Run out of

To use/finish/sell all of something



We’ve run out of envelopes. Can you order some, please?


Set up

Formally establish a new company, business or system



He set up his own business five years ago. I think he is a website designer.




Set up (2)



Organise an event or activity that is going to happen



Can you set up a meeting with the directors for next Monday?



Take on





We have taken on six new members of staff in the last four months.



Take over



Take control of


Our company has been taken over by a big American corporation.



Take up



Occupy/fill time


I hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time!



Weigh up




Have you weighed up all the possibilities?

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Phrasal verbs with take: learn English grammar and vocabulary


Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the

Indefinite and definite articles: A, an, the


This post looks at when we use a, an and the. We call A and AN ‘indefinite articles’ because they describe something that is not definite; not specific.  They are used to describe a general thing not a particular thing. THE is a ‘definite article’.  Therefore, listener and speaker both know which thing the speaker is talking about.


Indefinite Articles: Using A and An

We use a or an to talk about singular countable nouns (one noun that you can count), for example:

A dog, a hospital, a thought, a letter, a dream, a neighbour, a wedding, a house,

Continue reading Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the

Bonfire Night 5th November: Learn British Culture

Bonfire Night – 5th of November

‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot..’

 These are the opening lines of an English nursery rhyme from around 1870.  This post looks at the history of Bonfire Night…

(words with * are explained at the end.  Full poem below)

Bonfire Night is also known as Fireworks’ Night or Guy Fawkes Night. It is a British tradition* that began in 1605. A group of thirteen Catholic men wanted to destroy the Houses of Parliament and kill the king, James 1.  King James was a protestant and many Catholics believed that the King should also be Catholic.  They wanted to kill him and replace him with a Catholic leader. 

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The difference between MAKE and DO: Learn English Grammar

Make or do?

Make and do can be a problem for many students because there are not specific rules that helps us decide which to use in every situtation.  Most of the time we have to just learn when to use make and when to use do.  However, there are some rules that might help you learn some of the expressions… Test yourself at the end with our Quick Quiz on make/do.

Make and do: MAKE

1: Used to describe something that we can create or produce

The table is made of wood.

The toys were made in China.

Wine is made from grapes.

He wants a wedding ring made of platinum not gold.


2: Used to describe food/drinks

Make breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, tea, coffee, a cake, a sandwich, a salad, a roast dinner etc.

I don’t feel like making dinner tonight.  Shall we eat out?

I’m going to make a cup of tea. Would you like one?

I don’t normally make breakfast for the family now.  The kids are old enough to make their own.

I’ve bought some rum. I thought we could make some cocktails for the party.

Continue reading The difference between MAKE and DO: Learn English Grammar

Advanced English expressions with get: Learn English grammar and vocabulary

Advanced English Expressions with GET


Get is one of the most used verbs in the English language.  Therefore it is not surprise that there are many phrasal verbs and expressions containing it. This post is for upper-intermediate and advanced students and it looks at advanced English expressions with ‘get’.

Get hold/ahold of (idiom) = reach someone by telephone/message/text etc

‘I couldn’t get ahold of Tom so I couldn’t ask him to join us tonight.’


Get a feel for something = begin to understand how to do something or use something

‘When you learn to drive you have to get a feel for using the gears and pedals.  After a while, you do it all automatically.’

Continue reading Advanced English expressions with get: Learn English grammar and vocabulary

Learn English Grammar: Phrasal verbs with ‘get’

Phrasal verbs with GET

 This post looks at some of the most common phrasal verbs with ‘get’.   A phrasal verb is a phrase that contains a verb + preposition or adverb or preposition and adverb.

Phrasal verbs are used a lot in English and therefore they can be very difficult for learners.  Many phrasal verbs usually have a formal equivalent, for example:

After the thief got off the bus he ran towards the town centre.

After the thief alighted from the bus he ran towards the town centre. (formal use)

Phrasal verbs are also difficult for learners because many have more than one meaning.

Finally, you can test yourself at the end of the article with the ‘phrasal verbs with get’ quick quiz.


Get across to make something understood

‘I have been trying to get across to our manager that many of the staff are very unhappy. He just doesn’t want to listen!’

Continue reading Learn English Grammar: Phrasal verbs with ‘get’

Comparatives and Superlatives: Learn English Grammar

Comparatives and Superlatives

In this blog post we look at how to use comparatives and superlatives to describe things and people.

Look at the following sentences:


Who do you think is funnier? Pete or Sally?

I found the first book much more interesting than the second.

John is friendly but I think Jane is friendlier.

Houses in London are more expensive than anywhere else in the UK.


 Julie is the oldest student in her class.

We think he is the funniest comedian we have ever seen.

Who made the most delicious cake?

Houses in London are the most expensive in the UK.

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Using make. Learn English vocabulary

Using Make

There are lots of expressions that we use to show things we can make. Here are some of the most common ones.  Can you make time to make some notes on these:

Make dinner/breakfast/lunch/tea/coffee = prepare a meal or a hot drink

‘Are you hungry? Shall we make dinner now?’


Make arrangements (often with for or to) = to plan something

‘Tom and Tina are making arrangements for their wedding. They’re getting married next June.’

Continue reading Using make. Learn English vocabulary