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Whether you're new to them or have been studying them for a while, English phrasal verbs can be difficult to learn. Each one can have many different meanings, and there are thousands of phrasal verbs. While you can't avoid them, you can learn them in context!

Phrasal verbs are phrases combining two or more words together. They act as a new verb with a completely different meaning, separate from the meanings of the original words.

These 5 phrasal verbs with "give" can all have different meanings. By learning them, you'll be able to understand and communicate with other English speakers with ease and take your communication to a new level!

1. Give Out

Marge Simpson saying,

To collapse


My knee gave out yesterday after exercising at the gym. (My knee collapsed after exercising at the gym.)

Icon of a house collapsing

To distribute something — like prizes, money, food, etc.


They gave out food to the homeless at the church. (They distributed/gave food to the homeless at the church.)

Icon of someone handing a bag of money to someone else

To stop working


My car gave out yesterday. (My car stopped working yesterday).

Icon of a broken car with a smoking engine


What does "give out" mean in this sentence? "Linda's computer gave out yesterday. "

2. Give Away

GIF of a man with a pile of stacks of money saying

Give an item to someone else/donate


I am giving away my old books to a charity shop. (I am giving/donating my old books to a charity shop).

Icon of someone handing a book back to someone else

Hand over something or someone to someone else


At some weddings, a woman's father gives her away at the wedding to her husband. (In some weddings, a woman's father hands her over at the wedding to her husband.)

Icon of a man and woman getting married

Say something you aren't supposed to/tell or reveal a secret


Mary is mad because Jenna gave away her secret about winning the lottery to all their friends. (Mary is mad because Jenna told everyone about her secret lottery win.)

Icon of a folder that says top secret


What does "give away" mean in this sentence? "I got in trouble for giving away the fact that my sister was pregnant."

3. Give Back

Lizzo on stage in  a pink dress saying ,

Return something to someone


Allie lent me a pen for the exam, so I gave it back to her after. (Allie lent me a pen for the exam, so I returned it to her after.)

Icon of two boxes with arrows indicating the box is being returned

Do something nice for someone because they helped you in the past


After our house fire, all of our neighbors brought us food, clothes, and money. When everything was fixed we wanted to give back to them, so we organized a thank you party. (We wanted to do something nice for them, so we organized a thank you party.)

Icon of a happy face


In which sentence is "give back" used correctly?

4. Give In and Variatons

Alexis Rose from Shitt's Creek says,

"Give in to someone" — agree to do something for them after saying no earlier

My children were asking for candy, and they were annoying me, so I gave in to them and bought chocolates. (I agreed to buy them chocolates).

icon of candy

"Give in to something" — accept you were defeated and/or stop arguing

We tried to avoid selling our business but eventually, we gave in and took the offer of $1,000,000 ( Eventually, we accepted the offer of $1,000,000).

Icon of two people arguing

5. Give Up and Variations

A pink cartoon figure falling and saying,

To stop trying


I studied algebra for five hours and didn't understand it, so I gave up.

Icon of a woman crying with her hands in her head

Stop doing something (usually something negative)


I want to give up smoking. (I want to stop smoking).

Icon of a hand and a cigarette crossed out

Sacrifice something (usually to benefit another person)


She gave up university to take care of her sick mother. (She stopped going to university to take care of her sick mother.)

Icon of a hand with a stop symbol

"Give someone up" — hand someone over to the police


We gave up the thief to the authorities. (We handed over the thief to the authorities.)

icon of a thief

"Give it up for" — to clap and applaud for someone, usually a presenter on a stage


"Please give it up for our TEDTalk host!" (Please clap for the TEDTalk host.)

icon of clapping hands


In which sentence is "give up" used INCORRECTLY?

Resources to Practice

A woman in a Peloton hoodie saying

Here are some practical steps to take your communication to the next level:

  • Review with this simple quiz

  • Challenge yourself with this baamboozle that reviews the phrasal verbs with give we reviewed plus more

  • Practice talking with or reviewing phrasal verbs with ChatGPT

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Answer these questions to see if you remember the context:

  1. What is one bad habit you want to give up?

  2. Has your computer ever given out?

  3. Have you ever done anything to give back to your community?

  4. Have you ever given away a secret?

  5. What is something/someone you have had to give in to?

  6. What is the last thing you gave back to someone?

Take Action

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Don't give up!

Follow these steps to keep practicing:


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