Inseparable phrasal verbs are phrasal verbs that cannot place the direct object in the middle of the phrasal verb between the verb and the particle. They can be transitive or intransitive.
I brought together a list of the most common inseparable phrasal verbs for you here. I hope they make the task of learning these 130 important verbs easier for you.
|Verb||Meaning and Examples|
|back out of||Fail to keep an agreement or arrangement|
He never showed up for the wedding. I just knew he would back out of it. I suppose I made him go through with the idea because of the baby.
|bear down on||Move towards someone or something|
I saw the lorry bearing down on us but there was nothing I could do. The impact was both horrific and inevitable.
|bear on||Influence something|
The fact that you are an habitual thief will undoubtedly bear on the final sentence that is handed down.
|bear up under||Persevere against pressure|
I don't know how those people bore up under the pressure of constant bombing. I'm sure I would have gone mad.
|break in on||Interrupt something|
Excuse me! I'm sorry to break in on your conversation, but I think you're completely mistaken in your assumptions.
|be up to||Be doing something naughty; be good enough|
I just know you're up to something. What is it? What are you planning? I'm sure it's illegal.
You're fired! You're not up to the job! I need someone who knows what they're doing.
|break into||Enter a place to steal|
The thieves have broken into my house for third time this year. I'm getting fed up, and the insurance company is becoming awkward.
|breeze through||Deal with something in a casual, relaxed manner|
He was so intelligent he knew that he could breeze through the exam.
|buy up||Purchase the entire supply of something|
Someone bought up every pick, shovel and pan in California and made a fortune selling them to the gold prospectors in 1849 for much more than he paid for them. He made more money than most of the prospectors ever did.
|call for||Demand; phone; collect something|
I shall call for your resignation at the next meeting. You're a disgrace to the post.
Can you call for a taxi please? I've missed the last bus.
I'll call for the parcel on Tuesday. Please have it ready.
|call on||Ask for help or for someone to do something|
I call upon the gentleman to explain the situation in such a manner that even the most stupid amongst us might understand.
|care for||Like or appreciate|
I don't care for modern art. To me the old masters are real art, not this splashed about paint nonsense.
|carry on with||To have an affair|
He's been carrying on with his secretary for years. Everybody knows, except for his wife of course.
|catch up with||Make progress to match another's progress|
You go on ahead. I'll rest here for a while and then catch up with you.
|check up on||Enquire into the condition of something|
Don't worry. I'll check up on him this morning before I go to work. I'm sure he's just not answering the phone. You know how he is.
|chew on||To consider something carefully before deciding|
He said he'd have to chew on it for a day or two before he could say yes or no. We'll just have to wait and hope that he says yes.
|come across||Find by accident|
I found the answer when I came across an old book in my grandfather's study.
|come along with||To accompany|
Don't be scared. I'll come along with you and make sure you get home alright. That's what friends are for.
|come by||Obtain something, often by chance|
This old ring? Oh, I came by it when we were stationed in Egypt during the war. Went into a bazaar and there it was, just lying there. I think it might be quite valuable.
|come down with||Succumb to an illness|
She came down with a virus the day before her graduation. She spent the next two weeks in bed, poor girl.
|come out with||Exclaim or reveal something|
I was as surprised as anyone else when she told us. She didn't give any warning, just came out with it. I'd never have guessed, not in a month of Sundays.
|come up with||Think of a solution|
No one could come up with an answer. It was a mystery then and it's a mystery now.
|count on||Depend, rely|
Look, you can count on me to come up with something before Wednesday. I promise I'll have a report ready by then.
|cut in on||Interrupt|
Well, Louise, didn't anybody ever tell you that it's very bad manners to cut in on someone's conversation?
|disagree with||Cause to feel ill or nauseous|
I can't eat peppers. They disagree with me something terrible. I end up with terrible wind for the rest of the day.
|do away with||Put an end to, stop|
One day, when men are more sensible and more civilised, maybe we will do away with war for good. No more fighting, no more killing. Or is it an impossible dream?
|do without||Continue without having or doing something|
We haven't got any sugar, so you'll just have to do without. This tea is delicious without it anyway.
|face up to||Accept the truth of something, usually unpleasant|
I know you miss him but you need to face up to the fact that he's dead and he won't be coming home. You need to get on with your life.
|fall back on||Have the use of in an emergency|
You should always have a few hundred pounds in the bank. It's nice to have it there to fall back on when times are hard. Think of it as an emergency fund.
|fall out with||To be on bad terms with someone previously liked|
I fell out with Bill over the amount of money he used to spend on that damn car of his. That's why we eventually got divorced.
|figure on||Plan or expect to do|
What do you figure on doing when you leave university? Are you still set on joining the Navy?
|fill in for||Substitute|
Hello children! My name's Mr Jackson. I'm going to fill in for Mrs Wright because she's not feeling very well today. Now, I'd like you to turn to page twenty-seven in your textbooks.
|fill out||Put on weight, become fatter|
She must be over her anorexia now. Look at the way she's filled out. Doesn't look quite like a walking skeleton now.
|get ahead of||Move beyond something|
I admit that I do sometimes take work home with me. I like to get ahead of schedule so I don't feel quite as stressed at the office.
|get around (round) to||Do something after a delay|
I know it's important, but I just haven't had the time to get around to it. I promise I'll have it done by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.
|get away with||Not be caught doing something, usually wrong|
You really think you can just walk into a bank, rob them, and then walk away? You'll never get away with it. The police will arrest you before you get back to your house.
|get behind with||Not pay instalments on a loan by the time due|
I'm really worried that we're going to lose our house. After I lost my job I got behind with the payments on the mortgage. Now the bank it threatening to repossess the house unless I can find the money quickly.
|get down to||Begin working on something|
I really must get down to writing some thank you letters for all those Christmas presents I received. If I don't do it soon it'll be summer.
|get in||Enter a car|
A strange man stopped an offered me a lift home. I've always been told not to accept lifts from strangers so I refused to get in. I'm glad I didn't get in because a woman was kidnapped and murdered in the same place a few nights after.
|get off||Leave a plane, train, boat or bus|
I got off the train at Reading when I should have got off at Slough. I had to catch a bus back.
|get on||Enter a plane, train, boat or bus|
I got on the plane at Athens airport, flew to Paris and got on a train to Berlin.
|get on with||Make progress; have a good relationship with|
We need that finishing by nine o'clock so you'd better get on with it.
I don't think I ever really got on with my brother. We're as different as chalk and cheese and were always arguing about something or other.
|get through||Consume; finish|
My New Year's resolution is to drink less. In the past year I've been getting through two bottles of wine a day.
I often have to take work home because I never have time to get through it all at work.
|get through to||Make someone understand something|
Look! I'm not really getting through to you am I? You must understand that you can't park your car here, even if you do live in the street. If you don't move your car I'm going to issue you with a fixed penalty ticket.
|get up to||Do something wrong or naughty|
You mustn't leave them in the house alone or they'll get up to something. Last time they nearly burnt the place down when they found a box of matches.
|go along with||Accept a suggestion or decision|
Do I have a choice? No, I thought not. Alright then, I'll have to go along with the decision, for the moment at least. I just hope you know what you're doing.
|go back on||Break a promise or agreement|
Typical politicians! They promise they won't raise taxes and as soon as you vote them in to power they go back on their promise and raise them anyway.
|go down with||Become ill|
I'm not going to be at work today, I'm afraid. I think I'm going down with the flu. I feel terrible.
|go for||Be attracted to; attack; select or choose|
She's gorgeous. I could really go for her. I don't like the look of her dog, though. It looks like it'll go for me if I speak to her. I think I'll go for her sister instead.
|go in for||Enter a competition|
He went in for that body building competition. It's not surprising he didn't win. He's built like a stick insect!
|go on about||Talk too much|
He's always going on about how much money he's got and how big his house is. He's a real bore.
|go out with||Have a relationship with someone|
I've been going out with Sandra for six years. It's about time I asked her to marry me.
|go over||Examine or check the details of something|
I need to go over those figures one more time to make sure they're correct.
|go with||Match in a pleasing way|
Do you think these shoes go with my skirt, or should I wear the red ones instead?
|go without||To not have|
I don't care if you are hungry. You're late and your dinner's in the dog. You can go without eating. It might teach you to be more punctual.
|hack into||Gain unauthorised entry to a computer system|
This company computer system is completely secure. I don't think even the best hacker could hack into it. It's got several firewalls and military strength encryption.
|hammer away at||Work relentlessly|
I've been hammering away at this Language Workout for weeks and should have it finished soon. It's very interesting.
|hang up on||End a phone call suddenly|
I couldn't believe how nasty she was being to me so I hung up on her. If she phones back don't answer it.
|have it away||Have casual sex with someone|
She had it away with him at the office party and now she's pregnant. Silly girl!
|have it out with||Settle an issue or argument|
I had been worried about it for months, but when I finally did have it out with him I discovered that he wasn't angry after all. All that worry for nothing.
|hear from||Have contact with someone|
It's so good to hear from you after all these years. What's it been? Six years or more? We really should try to stay in touch.
|hear of||Have information about something or someone|
If you do hear of a flat to rent, can you let me know?
|hit it off with||Like someone immediately|
She's a really nice person. The sort of girl you can hit it off with right away. I know you'll like her, so why don't you give her a call?
|hit on||Have an idea|
I'd been trying to find a solution for weeks when I suddenly hit on an idea while I was having a bath. It was a eureka moment.
|hit out at||Respond with anger to criticism|
The government hit out at the media for what the minister called "their hypocrisy".
|hold back from||Not allow yourself to do something|
I've held back from losing my patience with you, but if you continue to insist I might not be responsible for my actions.
|hold on to||Hold tightly to something|
He held on to his beliefs even when the flames were licking around his ankles.
|hold out against||Resist|
The French held out against constant German attacks, despite horrific casualties.
|keep at||Continue despite difficulties|
I found the exam very difficult, but I kept at it and eventually finished. That I passed was nothing short of a miracle.
|keep to||Remain within limits|
The mountain is treacherous. One false move and you'll join the hundreds of others who die each year. The only way through it to keep to the narrow track and not be tempted to cut across the ice.
If you want to succeed at anything in this life you must keep on trying.
|keep up with||Move at the same speed; stay up to date|
I know I walk quickly and you have to struggle to keep up with me, but it does help you keep fit.
You need to buy a new computer every six months if you want to keep up with the latest advances in technology.
|lean on||Put pressure on someone to achieve an end|
The police were leaning on him to tell them who his supplier was.
|link up with||To contact someone or make a connection|
Even though we're on different continents we can still link up with our families thanks to the Internet.
|listen out for||Listen for something particular|
The taxi's due at half-past six. Can you listen out for it when it arrives?
|live on||Use funds for necessary expenses|
Most pensioners have to live on less than a hundred pounds a weeks.
|live up to||Meet expectations|
I liked the book, but the film didn't live up to it at all. What a disappointment.
|look after||Take care of|
I had to look after my little sister while Mum was in hospital.
|look down on||Have a low opinion of|
Just because you have more money than me doesn't mean you have the right to look down on me. You should treat people with more respect.
|look forward to||Anticipate something pleasant|
I look forward to our meeting on Saturday. It will be nice to finally meet you face to face.
|look into||Research, investigate|
I understand your concerns and I promise I'll look into the problem and get back to you as soon as possible.
|look up to||Respect|
I really look up to him as a boss. He's an extraordinarily nice person.
|make do with||Accept due to lack of alternatives|
We haven't got any tea, I'm afraid. You'll have to make do with coffee.
|make it up to||Compensate for doing wrong|
I couldn't get flowers for the wedding so I tried to make it up to her by buying flowers every year on our anniversary.
|make up for||Compensate|
I bought her a new car to make up for crashing hers into that tree.
|mess with||Interfere, molest|
I thought I told you not to mess with those people. They're gangsters and they'll shoot you as soon as speak to you.
|occur to||Enter the mind|
It never even occurred to me that she could be right and I could be wrong. Does that make me a chauvinist?
|pass on||Decline an invitation|
Thank you for the offer, but I'll have to pass on it. I have a dinner date that I really can't get out of.
|pick at||Eat without enthusiasm|
I really wasn't hungry so I just picked at the food to be polite.
|pick on||Bully or harass|
Why don't you go and pick on someone your own size for a change?
You're just playing at being a policeman. You've never arrested anyone.
|play upon||Exploit a weakness|
You need to play upon their emotions if you're going to get them to do what you want to do.
|put up with||Tolerate|
I couldn't put up with my wife's frigidity any longer. That's why I had an affair.
|rain down on||Fall in large numbers|
Shells rained down on the trenches for days before the big push.
|rat on||Inform on someone; break a promise|
She ratted on her boss to his wife about their affair because he ratted on his promise to take her to Bermuda for the summer.
|read up on||Research|
I've been reading up on computers because I'm thinking of building one of my own.
|run across||Meet or find by accident|
I ran across an old friend of mine in the town yesterday. I haven't seen her for years.
|run out of||Have none left|
I've run out of milk. Would you go to the shops and get some more for me, please?
|run for||Campaign for office|
I'm thinking of running for president of the book society.
|scrape through||Pass a test, but only just|
I didn't study for that exam. It's a wonder I managed to scrape through. I'm amazed that I got a grade c.
|see about||Attend to or deal with; consider|
You should see about that rash on your neck. Let the doctor look at it. It looks like its getting worse.
Maybe we'll go to the cinema if you're very good. I don't know yet, but we'll see about it.
|see to||Deal with something|
It was so nice to have someone else see to the arrangements. I could relax and everything went smoothly and without incident.
|see through||Realise someone is being deceitful|
Stop lying to her! Don't you think she's seen through your lies? You told her you were a doctor, but you're a car salesman.
|settle for||Accept what is on offer|
I wanted seats at the front of the theatre, but the show was almost sold out and we had to settle for seats near the back.
My wife wanted to name the boat after her mother, but we settled on naming it the Tiny Titanic.
|sift through||Examine many things carefully|
We had to sift through tons of evidence before we found a clue that might convict the bombers.
|sign on with||Put your signature to an agreement|
My grandfather signed on with the Royal Navy when he was just fourteen years old. He lied about his age.
|stand for||Accept; represent|
I'm not going to stand for your behaviour any longer. You'll have to leave the restaurant.
The letters DNA stand for Deoxyribonucleic acid.
|stand up for||Defend or support|
Not one of the bastards stood up for me when I needed their support.
|stand up to||Resist|
People must stand up to authority when it tries to take away their liberties.
This paint is so tough it will stand up to the roughest of weather.
|steer clear of||Avoid|
I know him. Under that pleasant exterior there's a monster. My advice is to steer clear of him.
|step on it||Ask someone to go faster, especially a driver|
We're going to miss the plane. Step on it, please, driver!
|stick to||Refuse change|
I know the situation has changed, but I'm going to stick to my original plan.
|stick up for||Support or defend|
Of course I'm going to stick up for her - she's my wife! So, if you have any thing to say to her you can say it to me, too.
|suck up to||Try to gain favour with someone|
You always suck up to the boss. Are you looking for promotion?
I take after my mother, while my brother takes after my father.
|talk down to||Talk in a superior manner|
I'm not a child so you don't have to talk down to me. You can speak to me as an equal.
|tell on||Report someone to authority|
If you cheat in your exam I'll tell on you to the teacher. Then you'll fail and probably be expelled for cheating.
I didn't want to come out and ask him, but I did touch on the subject during lunch. He didn't seem to mind.
My neighbour's dog has always seemed friendly, but it turned on my and bit my hand when I tried to get my son's football back.
|turn into||Become something else|
She was very loving until we got married, then she turned into a cold, loveless harridan.
|wade into||Become involved without planning or thought|
He just waded in to the fight and was one of the first officers to get assaulted.
|wait on||Serve someone|
I could not work as a waiter, waiting on people like a slave or a servant.
My butler is very good and waits on my every need.
|walk (all) over||Treat with contempt or exploit someone; defeat|
Of course I took his money! I walked all over him. If he doesn't have what it takes he shouldn't play poker.
|watch out for||Be careful of someone or something|
Watch out for the gypsies outside the cathedral. They'll try to tell you fortune and steal your wallet at the same time.
|watch over||Monitor someone or something|
A shepherd watches over his flock to make sure the animals don't get into any trouble.
|wriggle out of||Avoid doing something in a sneaky way|
She always manages to wriggle out of any kind of responsibility, yet she gets paid more than any of us.
When faced with a chocolate cake I always yield to temptation and eat it. I've got no willpower.
|zip around||Move quickly|
I go shopping once a week to the supermarket. I don't normally take more than half an hour, zipping around the shelves and filling my trolley.
|zoom in on||Focus closely|
The camera zoomed in on the man's face and I suddenly recognised my brother. I hadn't seen him for years.