Phrasal Verbs and Idioms for English Speaking | Lesson 13 – Elementary Level

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1. to break down: to stop functioning

Compare this idiom with to burn out in Lesson 12.

To burn out means that electrical equipment becomes hot from overuse and stops functioning.

To break down means that something stops functioning mechanically, whether from overuse or not.

  • Ex: I just bought my new car yesterday and already it has broken down.
  • Ex: The elevator broke down, so we walked all the way up to the top floor.
2. to turn out: to become or result; to appear, to attend (also: to come out)

The noun form turnout derives from the second definition of the idiom.

  • Ex: Most parents wonder how their children will turn out as adults.
  • Ex: Hundreds of people came out for the demonstration against new taxes.
  • Ex: What was the turnout for the public hearing on the education reforms?
3. once in a blue moon: rarely, infrequently

Snow falls on the city of San Diego, California, once in a blue moon.

  • Ex: Once in a blue moon my wife and I eat at a very expensive restaurant.
 4. to give up: to stop trying, to stop a bad habit; to surrender

  • Ex: I’m sure that you can accomplish this task. Don’t give up yet!
  • Ex: If you give up smoking now, you can certainly live a longer life.
  • Ex: The soldiers gave themselves up in the face of a stronger enemy forces.
5. to cross out: to cancel by marking with a horizontal lines

  • Ex: The teacher crossed out several incorrect words in Tanya’s composition.
  • Ex: I crossed the last line out of my letter because it had the wrong tone to it.
6. to take for granted: not to appreciate fully; to assume to be true without giving much thought

A noun or pronoun often follows the verb take.

  • Ex: John took his wife for granted until once when he was very sick and needed her constant attention for a week.
  • Ex: He spoke English so well that I took it for granted he was an American.
  • Ex: He took for granted that I wasn’t American because I spoke English so poorly!
7. to take into account: to consider a fact while evaluating a situation

Again, a noun or pronoun often follows the verb take.

  • Ex: The judge took the prisoner’s young age into account before sentencing him to three months in jail.
  • Ex: Educators should take into account the cultural backgrounds of students when planning a school curriculum
8. to make clear: to clarify, to explain

  • Ex: Please make clear that he should never act so impolitely again.
  • Ex: The supervisor made it clear to the workers that they had to increase their productivity.
9. clear-cut: clearly stated, definite, apparent

  • Ex: The president’s message was clear-cut: the company had to reduce personnel immediately. Ex: Professor Larsen is well known for his interesting and clear-cut presentations.
10. to have on: to be wearing

  • Ex: How do you like the hat which Grace has on today?
  • Ex: When Sally came into the room, I had nothing on except my shorts.
11. to come to: to regain consciousness; to equal, to amount to

  • Ex: At first they thought that the man was dead, but soon he came to.
  • Ex: The bill for groceries at the supermarket came to fifty dollars.
12. to call for: to require; to request, to urge

  • Ex: This cake recipe calls for some baking soda, but we don’t have any.
  • Ex: The member of Congress called for new laws to regulate the banking industry