Is it hard for you to take in the English vocabulary you need? If it is, here's a trick: study phrasal verbs. They're complicated, but it's important to know them to understand English vocabulary.

So, what is a phrasal verb? A phrasal verb is when a short word (like "over") comes after a verb and changes its meaning.

You probably know what "take" means.

A hand taking a cup of coffee off of a desk. Photo by Monika Dhita Adiati on Unsplash

But did you know that take over doesn't mean anything like "taking a cup"? Take over is closer in meaning to "control".

Expand your English vocabulary with other interesting phrasal verbs with the word "take"!

1. Take Off

Just like take over means "control," many other phrasal verbs have a single word that means the same thing.

Take off is like this. Can you guess the single word that means the same thing as take off from these sentences?

  • I'm having fun at this bar, but it's already 11:30 pm, and I work tomorrow, so I need to take off.

  • Be sure to get to the airport early. You don't want to arrive after the plane takes off!

  • It's annoying that I have to work on my birthday, but I think I'll take off from work early, around 4:00 pm.

A plane taking off

That's right! Take off means "leave".

Note that we need to add "from" if we add a specific location (like work).


Which of these sentences could you say? Select all that apply:

2. Take On

Some phrasal verbs are more confusing because they don't have one word that clearly means the exact same thing. Take on is like this.

It's okay, though. We can take on this challenge by thinking about the sentences below. What is the topic that they all have in common?

  • Studying English is a lot to take on.

  • I decided to take on the challenge of starting a new job.

  • I will take on a lot of new responsibilities at work.

A small child in front of a lot of stairs outside. This child will take on climbing the stairs. Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

That's right! Take on means to address a challenge or responsibility.


What could you "take on" to help you learn English? Select all that apply:

3. Take Through

There are dozens of phrasal verbs with "take" in English. You don't need to learn all of them right away, but try to start recognizing what they look like.

Use this list of phrasal verbs and try to understand the following conversation:

  • Jim: I'm starting to take on new duties at work, so I can't watch your kids this weekend.

  • Matt: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. What are your new duties?

  • Jim: Well, our marketing manager just quit. I'm taking over her duties.

  • Matt: I don't understand what a marketing manager does. Can you take me through it?

  • Jim: Sure. Marketing managers think of new ways to sell our products. They use advertisements and things like that.

Matt and Jim talking in an office. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash


Try to think about all the phrasal verbs we have seen before. You might not fully understand what Matt and Jim are saying if you don't know all the phrasal verbs.


Why did Jim start explaining the duties of a marketing manager?

Take Action

To really learn these phrasal verbs, you need to start using them in context.

Take in (or "understand") as much information as you can from this Byte, then start using phrasal verbs in context.

A magnifying glass over a laptop keyboard, taking in information. Photo by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash

Start now!


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