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Mastering Phrasal Verbs for IELTS

Mastering Phrasal Verbs: Your Guide to Improving English Language Skills

Phrasal verbs are an important part of the English language that can add depth and meaning to your communication. They are made up of a verb combined with one or more particles (like prepositions or adverbs) to create a unique expression. In this blog, we’ll explore what phrasal verbs are and how to use them effectively in writing and speaking. Additionally, we’ll compare informal and formal phrasal verbs and discuss their significance in language tests like IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE-Academic.

What Are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs are phrases that consist of a verb and one or more short words (particles) that completely change the meaning of the verb. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  1. Break up – to end a romantic relationship
    Example: They decided to break up after three years of dating.
  2. Turn down – to reject or refuse something
    Example: He turned down the job offer as he had a better opportunity.
  3. Look into – to investigate or examine something
    Example: The police promised to look into the matter and find the culprit.
  4. Make up – to invent or create something, or to reconcile after an argument
    Example: She made up a story to explain her absence from the meeting.
  5. Set up – to establish or arrange something
    Example: They set up a new business after careful planning.

Using Phrasal Verbs in Writing and Speaking:

Phrasal verbs play a significant role in both writing and speaking. However, it’s important to consider the context and formality of your communication when using them.

In informal writing and casual conversations, phrasal verbs are commonly used and add a natural, conversational feel. For example:

Informal: I ran into my old friend at the supermarket.

However, in formal writing, such as academic essays or professional reports, using formal phrasal verbs is essential to maintain a polished tone. Formal phrasal verbs are often single-word equivalents of informal ones. For instance:

Formal: I encountered my old friend at the supermarket.

Informal Phrasal Verbs vs. Formal Phrasal Verbs:

Let’s compare some common informal phrasal verbs with their corresponding formal equivalents:

Informal Phrasal VerbFormal Equivalent
Bring upRaise
Call offCancel
Look intoInvestigate
Make upCompose
Put offPostpone
Turn downReject
Come up withDevise
Go overReview
Find outDiscover
Set upEstablish

The Importance of Using Formal Phrasal Verbs in Language Tests:

When it comes to language proficiency tests like IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE-Academic, using formal phrasal verbs can make a significant difference in your score. These tests assess not only your vocabulary and grammar but also your ability to express ideas with clarity and precision.

Using formal phrasal verbs demonstrates a higher level of language proficiency and can enhance your writing and speaking tasks. In the IELTS and TOEFL writing sections, for instance, using sophisticated vocabulary and formal phrasal verbs can lead to better cohesion and coherence in your essays.

Moreover, in the speaking section of these tests, incorporating formal phrasal verbs can add fluency and accuracy to your responses, impressing the examiners with your language skills.

Phrasal verbs are a valuable part of the English language, adding depth and meaning to your communication. Understanding how to use them effectively in writing and speaking can elevate your language skills and make you a more proficient English speaker. Remember to adapt your use of phrasal verbs based on the context and formality of your communication. In formal settings like language tests, using formal phrasal verbs is crucial to showcase your language proficiency. So, practice incorporating formal phrasal verbs into your writing and speech, and watch your language abilities shine in any situation!


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