Common phrasal verbs in writing
The two lists below show commonly used phrasal verbs in academic writing and their one-word synonyms. Although it is academically acceptable to use phrasal verbs, you might want to switch them to their one-word synonyms to make your writing diverse and more professional.
The examples given in the lists are only applicable to a certain meaning of a given phrasal verb. Don’t forget that a phrasal verb can have more than one definition, and the suggested synonym can’t contain every meaning of the phrasal verb.
Separable phrasal verbs
You can put the object between the verb and the preposition in these phrasal verbs. Don’t forget that you should always separate these phrasal verbs when using pronouns (e.g. “He wrote down the paragraph” but “He wrote it down”).
He added up the number of sold properties.
The firm bought out the rival firm.
Purchase (Someone's assets)
The woman’s clothes were bought up in the yard sale.
Purchase (all of something)
Maybe I should call off the party.
He needed to carry on with the project.
Did you carry out the task as I asked?
As the paragraph didn’t fit in with the rest of the paper, she had to cut it out.
Researchers found out a new species.
Get (it) over with (split)
The innocent suspect was happy that the police got the investigation over with.
Get my message across so that he won’t make the same mistake.
Tribes didn’t give up until the 19th century.
The flight was held up due to the weather conditions.
Don’t leave out any necessary information in your paper.
He made up an excuse to skip their plan.
It was impossible to make out the settlement in the dark.
This job is an opportunity one should not pass up.
The virus can pass on with a cough.
The products were passed out to the sellers.
You can pick your presentation up from where you left off.
I pointed it out for the boss to understand.
The wedding planner is setting up the venue as we speak.
Several interviewees were turned down.
We used up all the possibilities and found nothing.
Inseparable phrasal verbs
Back out of
The company backed out of the signed agreement.
Aristotle’s works have been bearing on the new philosophers for years.
Catch up with
Their newest factory works hard to catch up with the older ones.
She called on the biographies of great businesspeople.
Papers are called for the annual conference.
I knew I could count on you!
Cut down on
The government cut down on budgets.
Come up with
The researchers came up with a solution.
After the election, the losing party fell apart.
The criminal thought he could get away with the murder.
Get along with
The two countries failed to get along with one another for years.
Be friendly with
For 20 years, he didn’t give in to the oppression from the big companies.
The war could go on for years if it weren’t for him.
Hold on to
Many seniors held on to their paychecks for a holiday.
Hold out on
The police held out on the press about the case.
We should look into other options before making a decision.
Look out for
Cops had to look out for the shooter in the crowd.
Make sure of
The government had to make sure of their safety on the road.
Pick up on
The detective picked up on the hidden evidence.
Put up with
Doctors have to put up with troubled patients.
I will personally see to your request.
Homo sapiens took after other species.
He touched on some sensitive topics in his presentation.
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