Phrasal verbs are a useful aspect of English which help us with the register of our writing. If we are writing something very formal, for example a report, we probably wouldn’t use them. But if we want to write an email to a long-standing customer who we have known for some years, the verbs we would usually use when we write at work might seem too formal. We might accidentally offend our client who could be wondering, “Why are they being so distant with me?” Phrasal verbs work perfectly in this kind of situation.
First, a definition. Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell give the following definition in English Phrasal Verbs in Use: Advanced.
“Phrasal verbs are verbs that consist of a verb and a particle (a preposition or adverb) or a verb and two particles (an adverb and a preposition, as in get on with or look forward to).”
Maybe this made everything clear to you, or maybe it didn’t. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you know that you can make your writing less formal by using phrasal verbs.
Here’s a list of some phrasal verbs that are useful in business English.
|To ask around||To ask many people the same question||Could you ask around the office and see if there’s someone available to work this weekend?|
|To back someone up||To support||Thanks for backing me up when I presented the proposal.|
|To not care for||To not like||I don’t care for the proposed office layout. Let’s see if there’s a better way.|
|To chip in||To help||If everyone chips in, it’ll only take about half an hour.|
|To cut back on||To consume less, to reduce||It looks as though we’re heading for an overspend. We need to cut back on some of our expenses.|
|To do something over||To do again||I thought my report was safe, but my computer crashed and the hard drive is fried. I need to do it over.|
|To drop by||To visit without an appointment||I’ll be over your side of town tomorrow afternoon. Is it okay if I drop by?|
|To drop someone/something off||To take something/someone somewhere||My car’s broken down. Can you drop me off at the station after work?|
I’ll give you some more examples in my next post.
About the photo: This photo is a detail on the interior walls of the Czech National Technical Library.