Phrasal Verb & Idiom Examples 

Look over the idiom examples in these conversations. Seeing how we use idioms and phrasal verbs in conversation can help you learn them. It's much more useful than studying a list of meanings.

I've made the idioms bold so they're easier to see.

You'll notice that many of the idioms used here are phrasal verbs (especially ones that can't be easily guessed from the individual words). These are really common expressions. It's worth noticing how they're used.

Idioms in Phone Conversations

Idioms in use (women on the phone): 'Hey Susan, I need to get a hold of Mr. Anderson. Is he in?' 'Not now. Do you want to leave a message?' 'No, thanks. I'll try to get a hold of him next week.'

The conversation in the picture gives a common way to leave a message. (It's very common to talk about "getting a hold of" or "getting in touch with" someone. Both mean to make contact.)

(If Mr. Anderson's receptionist, Susan, did not know Joan well, she might ask it a little more formally. "Would you like to leave a message?”)

The next phone conversation is an informal way to discuss business with an acquaintance. (That's someone on friendly terms, but not a close friend.)

Idiom Examples in a Business Conversation

Mark: “Hey, Joe. How are things?”

Joe: “Going well, Mark. What’ve you been up to lately?”

Mark: “Oh, not much. Work’s been busy. Oh, by the way, did you get a hold of Jeff about that real estate deal we were talking about?”

Joe: “I haven’t been able to reach him yet. But the decision is really not up to him anyway. Let me know if you still want it. If you don’t, now is the time to back out. If you’re still interested, I’ll tell the real estate agent to go ahead and buy that office building. He’ll follow through with it right away. He should have all the paperwork filled out by Friday.”

Mark: “I was hoping Jeff could help me figure out a way to afford it. Our business is in the red right now, but we have some good contracts coming up. We should be in the black soon-- and that property would be ideal. I’ll try calling Jeff myself. If we can’t come up with a solution, we’ll have to call off the deal and do without the bigger office.”

Joe: “Well, good luck then. It’s hard to give up a dream! Let me know what you decide.”

Mark: “I will. Take care!”

Idioms for Discussing Relationships

Janice: “So how’s it going with your new boyfriend, Ann?”

Ann: “Not so well. I used to look up to Sam, but the better I know him, the less I like him. He doesn’t get along with his parents at all. If they bring up his grades, he blows up at them. So far, he hasn’t blown up at me, but he takes me for granted. I think the only reason he takes me out is to impress his friends.”

Janice: “Don’t put up with that! Why don’t you just break up with him?”

Ann: “I’m sure thinking about it. Do you know any good places to meet guys?”

Idiom Examples in Daily Routines

2 young men chatting on a park bench

Jim: “Hey, Mark! I heard you just got a new job. What’s your routine like now?”

Mark: “Well, when I wake up, I get up right away-- no time to daydream anymore! I shower, shave, and put on my suit, grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich, and am out the door before 7 A.M.

I catch the bus about 7:10, get off downtown at 7:35, and am at my desk going through my emails before 8.

I make a few calls and check the figures in our latest report. Then I often have to make a presentation for some new customers. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon we have a staff meeting. Our boss goes over everything we should be doing to make those sales.

He wants a report every week or so to find out if we followed through on his suggestions and to make sure we’re on track. He hands out new assignments every Thursday, too.

Fridays at 5 on the dot they pass out the paychecks, and you should see the rush out the door!

When I get home I can’t wait to take off my tie! I kiss Susie and collapse on the sofa while she makes dinner.

After dinner, I usually have to finish up a report or go over the plans for a meeting the next day. Then maybe I’ll look at the news or a sitcom for a few minutes with Susie. By 11 P.M. I’ve run out of steam and am heading for bed. The pillow never felt better!”

Jim: “Wow! That’s a busy schedule! So what do you do to relax?”

Mark: “Sometimes I take Susie out to eat, or to a movie. But I’d be happy to spend every Saturday out at the lake, catching fish or napping...”

Check the Meaning of These Idioms & Phrasal Verbs:

Photo of a boss grabbing an employee by the tie and saying, 'I expect you to get to work on time! That means to be at your desk by 8 o'clock on the dot, not 8:01.' (A clock on the wall reads 8:02.}

The List of Idioms can help you understand what people mean when they say they can barely “make ends meet”, tell you to meet them at 3:00 P.M. “on the dot”, or say they want to get together “one of these days.” (Hint: don't wait for it.)

Photo of a young woman holding a tissue over her nose and thinking 'I wish I could just get over this cold!'

These 2-3 word phrasal verbs are used much more commonly in conversation that the formal verbs with the same meaning. This page gives the meanings of phrasal verbs from back out to make up.

The rest of the list of phrasal verbs, from P (pass away to put up with)to W (watch out!). 

You can practice many of these phrasal verbs on the Phrasal Verb Quiz.

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