Phrasal Verbs with Multiple Meanings

Phrasal verb is a very unique and quite complex construction of the English language. Many ESL students have difficulties understanding the meaning of phrasal verbs. I hope you are more confident now with the grammar of phrasal verbs. In case this is not confusing enough for you, many phrasal verbs have more than just one meaning. Let’s have a look at popular phrasal verbs with multiple meanings.

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10 Phrasal Verbs with Multiple Meanings

TO TAKE OFF

1. to remove

Example: It was a warm sunny day and I decided to take off my coat.

2. to leave the ground

Example: I hope our plane will take off on time.

TO GET THROUGH

1. to finish

Example: I don’t think I’ll get through your report by the end of this week.

2. to pass

Example: I think Michael will get through the test.

TO PICK UP

1. to take it from a low place

Example: I asked him to pick up the rubbish.

2. to collect

Example: I have to pick up my Mum at 8.45 p.m.

3. to improve

Example: The world economy is picking up quite strongly.

TO GO OFF

1. to ring

Example: Alarm fails sometimes on mobile devices and doesn’t go off.

2. to go bad

Example: The milk will go off if you don’t put back in the fridge after breakfast.

3. to explode

Example: Luckily the bomb failed to go off.

TO RUN OVER

1. to hit someone with a car

Example: I ran over a fox last night.

2. to exceed

Example: The project ran over its expected budget.

Phrasal Verbs with Multiple Meanings

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TO BRUSH OFF

1. to remove something with a brush

Example: Sarah brushed off the dust from her golf shoes.

2. to dismiss, to ignore a person

Example: Peter brushed off all objections to his plan.

TO TURN AROUND

1. to improve dramatically from bad to good

Example: Half year end results were not great but we managed to turn around things by the end of the year.

2. to change direction, to make a u-turn

Example: He had to turn around to go back home to get his passport.

TO GET ON

1. to board (a bus, train, ship etc)

Example: You should let passengers off the bus before you get on.

2. to have a friendly relationship

Example: I get on really well with my boss.

TO MAKE UP

1. to restore good relationships after a quarrel

Example: After an argument I had with my best friend last week we finally made up.

2. to invent something

Example: He made up a story to get out of trouble.

TO WORK OUT

1. to exercise

Example: To maintain a healthy lifestyle it is recommended to work out regularly.

2. to resolve

Example: “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.” – Tracy McMillan

More information can about phrasal verbs with multiple meanings can be found on the British Council website.

What do you find the most confusing about phrasal verbs? Let us know in the comments below.

More Information

For more information on English Idioms, English Phrasal Verbs and English Vocabulary Words, check out the following links:

English Collocations with READ

Crime and Punishment Vocabulary for IELTS

How to use Adjectives ending in ED and ING correctly

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