Phrasal Verbs and Idioms for English Speaking | Lesson 12 – Elementary Level

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1. up to date: modern; current, timely

Hyphens () separate the parts of this idiom when it precedes a noun form, as in the third example. The verb to update derives from this idiom.

  • Ex: The president insisted that the company bring its aging equipment up to date.
  • Ex: This catalog is not up to date. It was published several years ago.
  • Ex: The news program gave an up-to-date account of the nuclear accident. The newscaster said that he would update the news report every half hour.
2. out of date: not modern; not current, not timely; no longer available in published form
Again, hyphens separate the parts of this idiom when it precedes a noun form as, in the second example. The passive verb to be outdated derives from this idiom.

  • Ex: Many people buy new cars when their old cars become out of date.
  • Ex: I don’t know why Gene likes to wear out-of-date cloth. His clothes are so outdated that even his girlfriend hesitates to be seen with him.
  • Ex: This book can’t be ordered any more because it is out of date.
3. to blow up: to inflate, to fill with air; to explode, to destroy (or be destroyed) by explosion

  • Ex: Daddy, could you please blow up this balloon for me?
  • Ex: When the airplane crashed into the ground, it blew up immediately.
  • Ex: The military had to blow the missile up in midair when it started to go the wrong way.
4. to catch fire: to begin to burn

  • Ex: Don’t stand too close to the gas stove. Your clothes may catch fire.
  • Ex: No one seems to know how the old building caught fire.
5. to burn down: to burn slowly, but completely (usually said of candles); to destroy completely by fire

  • Ex: There was a large amount of wax on the table where the candles had burned down.
  • Ex: The fire spread so quickly that the fire fighters could not prevent the whole block of buildings from burning down.
6. to burn up: to destroy completely by fire; to make angry or very annoyed (also to tick off)

To burn up and to burn down (previous idiom) share the same definition but also have different definitions.

  • Ex: She didn’t want anyone to see the letter, so she burned it up and threw the ashes away.
  • Ex: It really burns me up that he borrowed my car without asking me first.
  • Ex: Mike got ticked off that his friends never offered to help him move to his new apartment. He had to do everything himself.
 7. to burn out: to stop functioning because of overuse; to make tired from too much work

  • Ex: This light bulb has burned out. Could you get another one?
  • Ex: Studying all day for my final exams has really burned me out.
8. to make good: to succeed

  • Ex: He is a hard worker, and I’m sure that he will make good in that new job.
  • Ex: Alma has always made good in everything that she has done.
9. stands to reason: to be clear and logical

This idiom is almost always used with the pronoun subject it and is followed by a that clause.

  • Ex: It stands to reason that a person without experience.
  • Ex: It stands to reason that he isn’t going to pass the course if he never studies.
10. to break out: to become widespread suddenly

  • Ex: An epidemic of measles broke out in Chicago this past week.
  • Ex: If a nuclear war ever breaks out, it is unlikely that many people will survive.
  • Ex: The news says that a large fire has broken out in a huge chemical plant
11. as for: regarding, concerning (also: as to)

  • Ex: As for the money, we will simply have to borrow some more from the bank.
  • Ex: There is no doubt as to her intelligence; she’s the smartest one in the class.
12. to feel sorry for: to pity, to feel compassion for (also: to take pity on)

  • Ex: Don’t you feel sorry for someone who has to work the night shift?
  • Ex: I helped drive Pierre around when he broke his foot because I took pity on him.