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25 Business Phrasal Verbs in English for Excellent Communication

Phrasal verbs are very common in the English language, and you may come across them in a variety of different scenarios.

“Come across” and “look into” are both examples of phrasal verbs, which are groups of words including a verb that take on their own specific meaning.

In this guide, I’ll show you 28 useful business phrasal verbs that are used frequently in English, so you improve your comprehension and communication skills.


Mastering Phrasal Verbs for Business

Phrasal verbs, along with idioms and proverbs, can be a little hard to learn and remember in English because they are not always logical.

The best way to use phrasal verbs correctly is to copy the way people around you use them.  The best places to find phrasal verbs are in business emails, and in movies or tv shows with a business or economics theme.

When you are not sure how to use a phrasal verb or what it means, you can search Google for “define [phrasal verb]” (for example, “define looking through”) and get a list of dictionary definitions.

Another great way to pick up new phrasal verbs is to just look down the list of meanings when you look up a verb in the dictionary. Phrasal verbs are usually listed under the alternative meanings for verbs so it is a quick and easy way to increase your knowledge.

Lastly, as with much of the English language, there are no absolute rules about phrasal verbs, their meanings, or when to know if they are transitive, intransitive, separable or inseparable. It’s best to remember them by using them, listening for them and trying them out.

Common Phrasal Verbs in Business

1. Deal with

Type: Inseparable, transitive
Meaning: To handle, work on
Example: Our new department head will deal with the training of new staff members.

2. Take over

Type: Separable, intransitive
Meaning: To get control or responsibility for something
Example: Tom will take over the sales department and become its new manager.

3. Look into

Type: Inseparable, transitive
Meaning: To investigate, learn more about
Example: We are now looking into new software to use in our training.

4. Look up to

Type: Inseparable, transitive
Meaning: To respect
Example: Many of our co-workers look up to Jill, and she is well-liked by her customers as well.

5. Look for

Type: Inseparable, transitive
Meaning: To search
Example: They are looking for a candidate who can speak both Chinese and Portuguese.

6. Look through

Type: Inseparable, transitive
Meaning: To search many things
Example: They had to look through all of last month’s receipts to find the one they wanted.

7. Catch on

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: To finally understand, to understand something that other people already understand
Example: Jim learns quickly, therefore he caught on after trying only two times.

8. Get ahead

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: To move up in position, improve your career
Example: My boss told me that if I wanted to get ahead, I would need to work a little harder.

9. Drop in

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: To make an unexpected visit
Example: I am always nervous when our CEO drops in.

10. Drop off (1)

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: A sharp decrease
Example: At the end of summer there was a drop off in sales of bottled water.

11. Drop off (2)

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To deliver
Example: The new receptionist dropped our plans off on her way home.

12. Fill in (1)

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To write or type an item on a form
Example: You can’t go on to page 2 until you fill in every answer on page 1.

13. Fill in (2)

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: To do a job or hold a position temporarily
Example: When the president is away, the vice president will fill in.

14. Bring up

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To say or introduce a topic or issue
Example: Whenever we have a meeting, our manager brings up the fact that we are improving every month.

15. Break down

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To explain something or divide something into parts
Example: The new security system seemed confusing until Mary broke it down into five easy steps.

16. Hold up

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To cause a delay
Example: The bad weather is holding progress up on the new bridge.

17. Turn down

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To reject, say no to 
Example: Larry turned down a job at another company so that he could continue his work here.

18. Think through

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To consider carefully and thoroughly
Example: The marketing team did not think it through carefully before giving the product such a silly name.

19. Spell out

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To say something in a simple way
Example: Don misunderstood the question so we had to spell it out for him.

20. Point out

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To indicate or show something
Example: Everyone at the meeting was surprised when she pointed out the accounting department’s mistake.

21. Cut down

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To reduce, make something less
Example: We will be cutting down the electricity bill by installing solar panels.

22. Cut out

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To completely remove or erase
Example: Last year we cut out spending on TV commercials in order to increase spending on radio commercials.

23. Call off

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To cancel
Example: The department meeting was called off this week so please use your time wisely.

24. Chip in

Type: Inseparable, intransitive
Meaning: To give some help
Example: If everyone chips in, we will be able to finish the job by lunch time.

25. Put off

Type: Separable, transitive
Meaning: To postpone, delay
Example: The construction on the new building was put off because of all the rain this summer.


Now you know how to use business phrasal verbs, you can start putting them into practice in conversations, emails and more.

Good luck!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


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For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

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FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

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Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.

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