The Useful Phrasal Verbs!

Which phrasal verbs should you learn? There are hundreds, but here are five of the most common and most useful ones.

Deal with
For example:

  • Julie: Look at all this mess in the kitchen!
  • John: Don’t worry – I’ll deal with it as soon as I’ve finished my lunch.

‘Deal with’ means ‘take the necessary action’.

Here are some more examples:

  • I’ll deal with the washing-up later.
  • Could you deal with this report now?
  • After I’d dealt with the bathroom, I started cleaning the living room.


  • ‘Deal with’ can’t be separated. We can’t say ‘deal it with’ or ‘deal the problem with’. 
  • ‘Deal with’ needs an object. We can’t say ‘I’ll deal with’. We need to say ‘I’ll deal with it / the problem’

Come across
 For example:

 Julie: Hi John, how are you?

  • John: Great! I just came across £40 in my winter coat!
  • Julie: Fantastic – coffee’s on you!

‘Come across’ means ‘find something you weren’t looking for’.

Here are some more examples:

  • came across some money in the street.
  • She came across some old photographs when she was cleaning the attic.
  • We came across the perfect present for Li while we were shopping.


  • ‘Come across’ can’t be separated. We can’t say ‘come it across’ or ‘come the money across’ 
  • ‘Come across’ needs an object. We can’t say ‘I came across’, instead we need ‘I came across it / the money’

Get on with
For example:

  • Julie: I really need a new job! This one is so boring, and although I get on with my colleagues, I don’t get on very well with my boss.

‘Get on with’ means ‘have a friendly relationship with someone.

Here are some more examples:

  •  I get on really well with my sisters.
  •  She doesn’t get on with her mother-in-law.
  •  We get on very well, even though we don’t see each other very often.


  •  ‘Get on with’ can’t be separated. We can’t say ‘I get on Julie with’ or ‘I get on her with’.
  • We can put the word ‘well’ in the middle to make ‘get on with’ stronger. We can say ‘I get on with my brother’ or ‘I get on well with my brother’.
  •  ‘Get on with’ needs an object. We can’t say ‘I get on with’. We need to say ‘I get on with him / my brother’.
  •  We can drop the ‘with’ when we have two people as the subject. So, we can say either: ‘I get on well with my sister’ or ‘my sister and I get on well’.

Look after

  •  Julie: Could you look after my suitcase for a second? I just need to buy a bottle of water.
  •  Li: Sure, no problem.

‘Look after’ means ‘be responsible for, take care of’.

Here are some more examples

  •  My mother looks after my cat when I’m on holiday.
  • look after my daughter in the mornings, and she goes to nursery school in the afternoons.
  • Would you look after this client, please John?


  • Look after’ can’t be separated. We can’t say ‘look him after’, instead we need ‘look after him’.
  • Look after’ needs an object. We can’t say ‘I’ll look after’, but instead we need I’ll look after him / it / the umbrella’.

Pick up

  • Julie: Hello? Is that Lucy?
  • Lucy: Hi Julie, where are you?
  • Julie: I’m still on the train. We should arrive in about half an hour.
  •  Lucy: No problem. I’ll come and pick you up at the station.

Pick up means ‘go somewhere to get someone or something, collect’.

Here are some more examples:

  • I’ll pick you up at 8pm at your house, and we can go to the party together.
  • David is picking up his friend at the airport – he should be back soon.
  •  My mother used to pick me up after school.


  • Pick up’ can be separated. We can say ‘I’ll pick John up’ or ‘I’ll pick up John’ or ‘I’ll pick him up’ but, (strangely) we can’t say ‘I’ll pick up him’.
  • ‘Pick up’ needs an object. We can’t say ‘I’ll pick up’, instead we need ‘I’ll pick him up’, or ‘I’ll pick up John’.

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