20 Essential Phrasal Verbs for work

by | Jul 23, 2018 | Business & Professional English, Grammar content, Verbs & Adverbs, Vocabulary

Phrasal verbs can be a real pain, we know. But they can also be beautiful and extremely useful, whether it be to pass the Use of English paper of your Cambridge exam, or simply to communicate fluently and in a natural manner with native speakers of English. Now, there’s no “perfect way” to memorize phrasal verbs for work, as different strategies work better for different students. However, both English academies and private English teachers agree that the use of images in class is definitely a big plus and dividing them into semantic fields with a proper context has also proven to be very effective. For this reason, and because we know how useful business English is to most English language learners nowadays, in this post you have 20 awesome phrasal verbs for work divided into 4 different categories.  

 Phrasal verbs for work: A company is only as good as its employees

To pick up the phone

  1.  Take someone on

If you run a company or a department within a big company, you’ll probably have to take someone on to help you cope with the workload, that is to say, hire someone by means of signing a contract.

Example: The company grew very quickly and had to take on a few employees.

  1. Run something by/past someone

If your boss or your line manager has asked you to draw up a report for a different department, you might have to run it by him or her before you hand it in, in order to make sure whether the report contains the right information or not.  

Example: I’ll have to run it past Claire before allowing you to leave early.

  1. Go over something

You and your team have been working on a report for the last few days and need to send it to your client. But you want to double-check that there are no mistakes in your report. So you get together and go over it with your team, making sure that everything makes sense.

Example: In the next meeting, we’ll go over the report point by point.

  1. Pick up (the phone)

Emailing is great for work, but there’s nothing as quick and effective as phone calls. So if you need to discuss something with a colleague, simply give them a call and hope for them to pick up the phone. If they don’t pick up, try sending them an email!

Example: I’ve called him several times this morning but he didn’t pick up.

  1. Get back to someone

Imagine you call your colleague but they’re in a meeting. So he picks up and says: “I’m in a meeting right now. I’ll get back to you as soon as I finish,” which means he’ll call you back when he’s out of the meeting.

Example: I need to double-check those figures. Let me get back to you later on.

  1. Lay someone off

Business hasn’t been that great the last couple of months and overheads and salaries are killing your company. What can you do to save it? You can let some employees go, you can lay them off, which means firing them temporarily or permanently because you don’t have enough work to keep them on.

Example: The factory laid off 500 employees when the crisis started.

 Phrasal verbs for work: Talking about work meetings

  1. Put something off

Imagine you wake up with a fever and you can’t go to work. Oh, no! You can’t make the 10 a.m. meeting. Would it be possible to put it off? Would it be possible to postpone it? Example: Do you mind if we put the meeting off until Friday?

  1. Call something off

Maybe you realise that the meeting you were going to have later on today is going to be a waste of time, because you’ve already sorted what you were going to discuss. So why don’t you call it off? Why don’t you cancel it?   Example: Is it okay if we call the meeting off? I don’t think we need to have one.

  1. Move something up

Imagine you’re tired and have already gone through your day’s workload and fancy going home a little earlier. But you have a meeting with a colleague at the end of the day. In this case, you should call your colleague and ask him or her if it’s possible to move up the meeting a few hours, so you can go home earlier. Example: Hey! Shall we move up today’s meeting? I’d like to go home earlier if possible.

  1. Bring something up

You have something in mind that you need to discuss with your colleagues during the meeting. You make a mental note: Don’t forget to bring up this issue! Don’t forget to raise this matter for discussion. Example: Before we conclude the meeting, I’d like to bring up an issue which we haven’t discussed yet.

Phrasal verbs for work: Great ideas make all the difference 

Phrasal verbs for work: to call something off

  1. Work something out

You’ve been running into the same problem since Monday and can’t figure out how to solve it. You need to find an answer; you need to work it out.

Example: We need to work out an action plan for this issue by the end of the week.

  1. Come up with something

So you’ve been having some problems lately trying to have a good idea for your next marketing campaign. But suddenly, out of the blue, you come up with a great idea!

Example: In the end, we managed to come up with a strategy for our marketing campaign.

  1. Jot something down

If you ever come up with a great idea, don’t forget to jot it down immediately, that is, write it down on before your forget it!

Example: We engaged in a bit of brainstorming and jotted down the best ideas we came up with.

  1. Get ahead

In a competitive business world, we’re all fighting to get ahead, meaning that we all want to make progress and see our careers and companies grow and thrive.

Example: Everyone I know seems to be getting ahead faster and making more money than me!

Phrasal verbs for work: A good day’s work!

Phrasal verbs for work: to come along

  1. Draw something up

If you draw something up, you are preparing a plan, agreement or document in detail. For example, you can draw up a contract for a new employee.

Example: They instructed an attorney to draw up a sales agreement.

  1. Run out of something

We all know how printers work, right? Whenever you really need to print out an important document, it runs out of ink! That is to say, there’s no more ink left!

Example: We’ve run out of paper at the office, so I’ll have to print this out at home.

  1. Come along

You have assigned a project to one of your employees for which he alone is responsible. So at some point, you want to know how the project is progressing, which means finding out how the project is coming along.

Example: How’s the redecoration coming along? Have they finished it yet?

  1. Be snowed under

We all know that time time of the year when we are busier than usual. In fact, there are times when we are much busier than usual, when we can say that we are completely snowed under.

Example: We’ve been completely snowed under at work lately.

  1. Put in

Many of us, when we are snowed under at work, we have no choice but to put in a few extra hours, which means that we work longer hours than usual.

Example: I don’t like working at weekends, but I’ll have to put in a few hours if I want to finish this project on time.

  1. Burn yourself out

Be careful with putting in extra hours. If you work too much, you might end up burning yourself out, which means that you might become absolutely exhausted due to overwork.

Example: Most teachers feel completely burned out by the summer holidays.

How did you like all these phrasal verbs for work? Did it you know some of them? Do you know other business English phrasal verbs? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article you might also like 25 business expressions for 2018 or English vocabulary for HR. See also our new introduction to phrasal verbs post here 

Elizabeth Drayton - Blog contributor of Break Into English

This article was written by Luis Porras Wadley and Edited by Elizabeth Drayton blog contributors of Break into English. Click here for a free trial lesson via skype.