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Phrasal Verbs in Writing Task IELTS test

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What is a phrasal verb?

Phrasal verbs are the word pairs made of verbs and adequate prepositions or adverbs. When the phrasal verbs are formed, they have a different idiomatic meaning depending on the word pairs.


For example:

"Carry on with the task until the teacher arrives".

 The original meaning of the verb ‘’carry’’ means 'to move something from one place to another'  such as “I carry the table to another place”, and the word ‘on’ means 'being on top of another object'.

However, when the pair forms a new phrasal verb, the meaning completely changes:

"To carry on"to continue the task or activity.

Do I need to know phrasal verbs for IELTS Writing tasks?

In order to achieve higher score in the IELTS Writing tasks it is very important to consider the grammar you are planning to use. It demonstrates that you have a good command of the English language and you can form complex sentence structures with idiomatic meaning. Besides, they can also be used in a spoken task.





Where can difficulties appear?

The most important part is to be able to recognise phrasal verbs and use them in your writing or speaking adequately. Otherwise, you may be misunderstood and it even can lower your score.
That means, you have to be careful with the way you learn them. When using the phrasal verbs, make sure you sound natural and they fit into the main context of your writing or speaking task.
If you put some phrasal verbs in a wrong context, it may sound unnatural. Furthermore, if you are not sure about the meaning, you may make mistakes, which will be noticed by the examiner.

You also always need to consider and change the verb according to whether the context is in the past, present or future. You must be vigilant at all times!

For example:

The microwave used for years just broke down without any reason.

Look at this example with 'break down':

The microwave used for years just broke down without any reason – it addresses the past.

I hope the microwave at our place does not break down soon – it addresses the present.

I think the microwave is going to break down in the next couple of months – it addresses the future.


Moreover, some phrasal verbs have several meanings depending on the context of the sentence. In this case the phrasal verb ‘break down’ could have following meanings:

The microwave used for years just broke down without any reason.


The microwave used for years went out of order without any reason.

Matt broke down when he heard the news.


Matt lost control over his emotions (became very emotional) when he heard the news.


Here are some commonly used phrasal verbs with the examples that will help you to recognise the main meaning and use them correctly.

Phrasal verb



Move on

  • To decide to leave something/ somewhere
  • To progress, start new activity

I decided to move on from my old apartment.

I was in the position for years. It is time to move on.

Hurry up

  • To do something more quickly

Hurry up, we will miss the bus!

Get over

  • To accept the consequences of situation and to start again

She is still getting over her divorce.

Focus on

  • To pay extra attention to something

I will focus on my career from now on.

Deal with

  • To take some action to do something

I need to deal with this problem as soon as possible.

Cut out

  • To stop working

The engine cut out suddenly.

Account for

  • To be responsible for something happened or exists

The new manager is accounted for such  improvement of his team.

Think over

  • To consider the idea carefully

I will think it over and give you an answer next Monday.

Rely on

  • To trust someone to do something

I rely on him to finish this task.

Point out

  • To direct someone’s attention towards something important

I pointed out the importance of this exercise.