#172: 10 Must-Have Phrasal Verbs for Work in English

Apr 1, 2020 | Advanced Vocabulary, Business Professional English, Phrasal Verbs

At your level in English, one of the best things you can do for your vocabulary to help you sound more natural when you speak English is to grow your use of phrasal verbs.

This list is perfect for business English and daily conversations!

I know. Phrasal verbs can be stressful or scary. They are confusing and strange.

You may even have a love/hate relationship with them.

But here are some cool things that using phrasal verbs will help you do:

  • Speak more naturally and like a native speaker
  • Understand your colleagues and peers more easily in English
  • Watch or listen to TV, radio, and podcasts in English without confusion
  • Be more specific when you want to express yourself in English

Those are all great benefits of learning phrasal verbs!

My best advice is to learn a few at a time, get really good at those few, and then learn new ones.

Today’s focus is on phrasal verbs we often use in business or professional situations. You will hear these used in business meetings, office discussions, or conversations with your boss or English-speaking colleagues.

So let’s get going and grow your professional vocabulary today!

10 Must-Have Phrasal Verbs for Work in English

Get ahead


  1. To make progress
  2. To become more successful

I’d love to enjoy the long weekend but I have to make sure I get this project done on time. Maybe I’ll stay at work late tonight to get ahead.

To get ahead in this industry, you really need to be well-connected. It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.

Burn out


  1. To cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted due to overwork

Did you hear Sara quit her job? I guess she was just really burnt out after working 12-hour days every day. I can’t blame her. That’s just too much!

Zero in on (something)


  1. To discover; pinpoint
  2. To direct all of one’s attention to someone or something

I think I’ve zeroed in on the problem. It took quite a bit of work but I found the issue.

Okay, let’s zero in on this project. We’re running out of time and this is the most important for our long-term success.

Put off (something)


  1. To postpone; to hold off

Do you put off unpleasant tasks until the last minute at the end of the day? Some successful entrepreneurs say it’s been to get those unpleasant tasks finished first thing in the morning so the rest of the day feels more positive.

Spell (something) out


  1. To make something plain or simple
  2. To explain something in a detailed way so it is clear or easy to understand

Lara, thanks for coming in to talk more about this. We’re interested in your proposal but we’d like to have you spell a few things out for us.

Think through


  1. To think carefully about; to think about all the different parts or aspects of something to fully understand it

You’ve certainly given us something to think through. Rebranding our company will require a lot of time, energy, and investment. We will consider this proposal carefully and get back to you in a few days.

Roll out (something)


  1. To introduce

Due to restructuring, the company will begin rolling out some new Human Resources policies this summer. We’ll be sure to keep everyone up-to-date.

Go after (someone/something)


  1. To try to get someone or something; to work to get something

My best advice is to do everything you can to go after the job you want.

Let’s do what we can to go after this potential client. This would be a fantastic contract for our company.

Go over (something)


  1. To review

Let’s go over the agenda for today’s meeting. I want to make sure we don’t forget anything important as we have a lot to discuss today.

Call off (something)


  1. To cancel

The boss called off the meeting today. Sounds like there is some emergency that came up – I hope everything is okay.

Okay – now it’s your turn! And I’m here to help. Let’s make some of these phrasal verbs easier to use every day in English.

Choose 2-3 phrasal verbs from this list that are new to you. Now think about your everyday life – your work, your schedule, your colleagues, your English-speaking friends. Can you think of some situations from your life to use with these phrasal verbs?

Write your examples in the comments section below. I’ll provide you with feedback and help you make sure they are correct.

You’ve got this!

~ Annemarie

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