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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.

Confusing phrasal verbs with multiple meanings

List of 10 phrasal verbs with multiple meanings

To take off

1. to remove
It was a warm sunny day and I decided to take off my coat.
2. to leave the ground
I hope our plane will take off on time.

To get through

1. to finish
I don’t think I’ll get through your report by the end of this week.
2. to pass
I think Michael will get through the test.

To pick up

1. to take it from a low place
I asked him to pick up the rubbish.
2. to collect
I have to pick up my Mum at 8.45 p.m.

To go off

1. to ring
Alarm fails sometimes on mobile devices and doesn’t go off.
2. to go bad
The milk will go off if you don’t put back in the fridge after breakfast.
3. to explode
Luckily the bomb failed to go off.

To run over

1. to hit someone with a car
I ran over a fox last night.
2. to exceed
The project ran over its expected budget.

To brush off

1. to remove something with a brush
Sarah brushed off the dust from her golf shoes.
2. to dismiss, to ignore a person
Peter brushed off all objections to his plan.

To turn around

1. to improve dramatically from bad to good
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
He had to turn around to go back home to get his passport.

To get on

1. to board (a bus, train, ship etc)
You should let passengers off the bus before you get on.
2. to have a friendly relationship
I get on really well with my boss.

To make up

1. to restore good relationships after a quarrel
After an argument I had with my best friend last week we finally made up.
2. to invent something
He made up a story to get out of trouble.

To work out

1. to exercise
To maintain a healthy lifestyle it is recommended to work out regularly.
2. to resolve
“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.

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