Business Writing Tip #161—Phrasal Verbs (Part 2)

When this sulphur-crested cockatoo arrived, the other birds gave in and flew away.

When this sulphur-crested cockatoo arrived, the other birds gave in and flew away.

In my last post I promised you some more useful phrasal verbs.

So let’s jump right in.

Phrasal Verb Definition Example
To call (something) off To cancel Management has called off today’s meeting because three people are off sick.
To end up To eventually reach, do or decide We’ll probably end up having the meeting the day after tomorrow.
To figure (something) out To understand, to find the answer We’ll figure out what to do when we get the final sales figures.
To find out To discover Can you try and find out why our sales fell last month?
To get (something) back To receive something that you had before We need to get our team back to full strength, so we have made the recruitment action a top priority.
To give in To reluctantly stop arguing The other side weren’t entirely happy with the negotiation, but when they realized the strength of our position, they had no choice but to give in.
To give up To stop trying The prototype isn’t working correctly, but I don’t want us to give up on it.
To go after To follow someone The CEO will speak first at the meeting. The Head of Marketing will go after her.
To go after To try to achieve something We need to go after increased sales this quarter if we are going to meet the annual targets.
To go over To review Could you please go over these sales figures and provide a summary for the meeting tomorrow?
To hand (something) in To submit We’ve asked the client to hand in their quarterly projections by tomorrow.

I’ll give you some more examples in my next post.

Happy writing.

Business Writing Tip #160—Phrasal Verbs

IMG_2319Phrasal 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.

Phrasal Verb Definition Example
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.

Happy writing.

About the photo: This photo is a detail on the interior walls of the Czech National Technical Library.