Britlish

Pick Phrasal Verbs and Idioms

Phrasal Verbs Course Phrasal Verbs | Vocabulary | Idioms

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are like idioms and have to be learnt individually. They are an essential part of your English vocabulary, and without them you will not be able to say that you have any degree of fluency in English. These Activities have been designed to make learning, remembering, and using phrasal verbs as easy and enjoyable as possible. English speakers use phrasal verbs all the time, so you need to at least be able to understand what they mean. Use them yourself and you will sound much more like a native speaker and your English will sound much more natural.

Vocabulary

Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.

Idioms

I am determined to make idioms as accessible for all students as any other part of the English language. Reading and memorising lists of vocabulary is not the most productive, interesting, or useful exercise in English language learning. I created these Activities to encourage you to not only learn and remember many English idioms, but also to have fun with them, as having fun is a great aid to learning and remembering. It is important that you know as many idioms as possible as native English speakers use them with alarming regularity. I hope that as you work your way through the Idiom Activities you will make some of the idioms your own and use them regularly like a native.

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The phrasal verbs are: pick at, pick off, pick on, pick up, pick up on, pick out, and pick away. The idioms are: a bone to pick, cherry pick, have your pick of something, pick your nose, pick to pieces pick to bits, pick a lock, pick and choose, take your pick, pick of the bunch pick of the crop, pick brains, pick pocket, pick through, pick up speed, pick up the pace, pick up the tab, pick your moment, pick a winner, pick holes in, pick of the litter, pick out of a hat, pick up steam, pick up the gauntlet, pick me up, and pickup artist.  

Phrasal Verbs Course

Pick - Phrasal Verbs and Idiomatic Expressions

Expressions with Pick

There are a lot of expressions in English which use the word pick. That’s why I picked pick for this English Activation Pack.

Learning these expressions and making them part of your language will help to improve your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills in English.

Meaning of Pick

The verb form of pick means to select something carefully from a group.

It means to look for and gather things, as in picking flowers.

Pick can also mean a small object used to play a stringed instrument like a guitar.

A pick is also a tool.

Pick is also found in many common English expressions, and we will be looking at these next.

Phrasal Verbs

Pick used in phrasal verbs

Pick in Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a verb followed by one or more particles such as prepositions.

It is not always easy to guess the meaning of a phrasal verb from the words alone because they are idiomatic expressions.

While many students are troubled by phrasal verbs, they are an important part of the English language.

As such, if you want to improve your English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, you must learn as many phrasal verbs as you can.

In this part of the English Activation Pack, we will look at phrasal verbs which use the verb pick.

Pick at

To pick at your food means to eat it very slowly and without enthusiasm.

I do wish John wouldn’t always pick at his food.

Well, he is a picky eater.

This phrasal verb is inseparable.

Pick at

If you have ever been bitten by a mosquito, you might be tempted to pick at the bite.

To pick at something is to pluck or pull at it with your fingers, which will only make the insect bite worse.

Don’t pick at your scab! You will just make it bleed.

This use of pick at is inseparable.

Pick away at

To pick away at is to slowly weaken and cause harm by focusing on and scrutinising even the smallest fault or imperfection.

The children would deliberately pick away at the teacher’s attempts to maintain order in the classroom.

Pick away at is inseparable.

Pick apart

To criticise in a very detailed and unkind way is to pick apart.

If all you’re going to do is pick apart my ideas, I’m going to stop sharing them with you.

Pick apart is separable.

I’m going to stop sharing my ideas with you if you’re just going to pick them apart.

Pick apart

To carefully separate something complex into its component pieces is to pick it apart.

The watchmaker would slowly and carefully pick apart the mechanism, clean it, and then reassemble it.

The hungry vultures soon pick apart the bodies, leaving only bare bones.

Pick apart is separable.

Susan liked nothing more than to pick her cookies apart until she had removed every last chocolate chip.

Pick off

To pick off means to remove one by one with a sharp quick movement.

You must pick off the apples one by one to avoid damaging them.

Pick off is a separable phrasal verb.

You must pick the apples off one by one.

Pick off

Pick off means to shoot people or things one by one as a sniper would.

From his high vantage point, the sniper picked off the enemy combatants one by one.

Pick off is a separable phrasal verb.

He picked them off.

Pick on

To pick on someone is to bother or harass them, or bully or make fun of them.

I was picked on at school, but no one would ever dare to pick on me now.

Pick on is an inseparable phrasal verb.

Pick over

When you pick over something, you consider it with careful attention, looking for something special or bad.

Lentils can sometimes have pieces of grit or even stones in them, so you should carefully pick over them before you use them.

Pick over is separable.

Pick the lentils over before you cook them. 

Pick up

The most literal meaning of pick up is to lift something from the ground.

I don’t know how you can even pick up the weights let alone lift them.

Pick up is a separable phrasal verb.

Pick the box up.

Pick up

Pick up means to learn something by doing it.

With this English Activation Pack, you will soon pick up all of this new vocabulary.

Pick up is a separable phrasal verb.

You will soon pick it up.

Pick up

Pick up can mean to become increasingly popular.

It’s quiet now, but things will really pick up at lunchtime.

Pick up is an inseparable phrasal verb.

Pick up

Pick up means to gain momentum, particularly when used with the noun speed.

I was all right at the top of the hill, but when I started picking up speed, things got a little scary.

Pick up is inseparable.

Pick up

To pick someone up is to give them a lift in a vehicle often when they have just arrived at a place or are about to leave.

I will pick Lee up at the airport.

Pick up is separable.

I will pick him up.

Pick up

Pick up is to buy or collect something.

I will pick up some wine on the way home.

Pick up is a separable phrasal verb.

Can you pick some wine up on the way home?

Pick up

If you pay for something, often a meal, for someone else, you pick up the bill or tab.

That was nice of her to pick up the bill.

Pick up is inseparable.

Pick up

If you have to stop while in the middle of something, but intend to continue later, you will pick it back up when you begin again.

Let’s break for lunch now, shall we? We’ll pick up where we left off this afternoon.

Pick up is a separable phrasal verb.

We’ll pick things up again this afternoon.

Pick up

Pick up means to receive a signal on a radio or other receiving device, or through body language.

How can he not pick up the signals I’m sending him?

Pick up is separable.

My radio isn’t picking any signals up.

Pick up on

To pick up on is to notice something that’s not very obvious to most people.

They were clues that only a trained detective would pick up on.

Pick up on is inseparable.

Pick out

To pick out is to identify something or someone from a large group.

And just how exactly am I supposed to pick out one man from this crowd?

Pick out is separable.

They quickly picked the man out.

Pick out

To pick out is to choose something from a selection.

It’s your birthday so you can pick out any piece that you like.

Pick out is separable.

Just pick a piece out and I’ll pick up the bill.

Idioms

Idioms with pick

A bone to pick

To have a bone to pick with someone means that you have something you wish to discuss with them that you’re not happy about.

I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Simon!

You seem to have a bone to pick with me.

There will always be someone with a bone to pick with me as a teacher.

Cherry pick

To cherry pick is to choose something very carefully to ensure you’re only getting or giving the best.

You can cherry pick your favourite English Activation Packs over at Britlish.com.

Don’t just cherry pick the parts of the story that you want to tell.

I didn’t cherry pick the idioms in this English Activation Pack, I gave you them all.

Have pick of

To have your pick of something is to be able to choose whatever you want from a selection.

As you’re the first one to see them, you can have the pick of the litter.

The best candidates will obviously have the pick of the jobs.

She always let her brother have the pick of the toys.

Pick a fight

To pick a fight is to deliberately try to provoke someone into a physical or verbal confrontation.

You don’t want to pick a fight with him. He’ll kill you.

It’s not very clever trying to pick a fight with the boss now, is it?

Leave it to him to pick a fight with the police.

Pick nose

To pick your nose is to extract nasal mucus with your finger; a habit which is frowned on in most societies.

He just stood there picking his nose and did nothing to help.

You often see her picking her nose when she doesn’t think anyone is watching.

That’s a lovely nose! Did you pick it yourself?

Pick a lock

If you pick a lock you manage to open it without using the key.

The ability to pick a lock is an essential skill for any locksmith.

Just because I can pick a lock doesn’t make me a criminal.

Locks have been picked since locks were invented.

Pick and choose

To pick and choose is to select the things you would like from many possibilities.

I love second-hand book fairs where I can pick and choose among thousands of books.

Pop over to Britlish.com and pick and choose what English Activation Packs will best help you.

She loves to pick and choose from her favourite flavours of ice-cream.

Take your pick

This imperative phrase invites you to choose from the options available.

We’ve got 27 types of ice cream so take your pick.

Take your pick of the English Activation Packs at Britlish.com.

Our restaurants cater for every taste, so take your pick from over 30 dining options.

Pick of the crop

The best example taken from a group is the pick of the crop.

This idiom is also heard as pick of the bunch.

As far as the dancers go, this pair are certainly the pick of the crop.

I wouldn't say they always have the pick of the crop, particularly in equities.

We have the pick of the bunch when it comes to delicious dining. 

Pick brains

If you want to get detailed information about something from someone you need to pick their brains.

I really need to pick your brains about the marketing strategy.

She spent all lunch picking my brains about how to launch the product.

The next time I see Jane, I’ll pick her brains about Ian.

Pick pocket

To pick someone’s pocket is to steal something from them without them realising.

Your wallet is just inviting pickpockets to pick your pocket.

You’ve got to pick a pocket or two.

Bus lanes are a crude and obvious way to pick the pocket of unwary motorists.

Pick through

To pick your way through something is to negotiate a series of obstacles or to work your way slowly and carefully through something.

We carefully picked our way through the jungle.

I spent the night picking through the report.

The survivors picked their way carefully through the wreckage.

Pick moment

To carefully choose the right time to do something is to pick your moment.

This expression is often used ironically to suggest the opposite.

I had to pick the right moment to tell him I was leaving.

He had only just come out of hospital, so she picked a great moment to leave him, I must say.

She certainly picked her moment to tell the workforce that the factory was closing – a week before Christmas.

Pick a winner

When you pick a winner, you have made a successful choice.

The management knew they had picked a winner when the end of year reports came in.

I think I’ve picked a winner this time round.

It’s important that we pick a winner from the available candidates.

Pick holes in

To pick holes in something is to find all the flaws and imperfections.

Before we start to pick holes in others, we need to look at ourselves first.

They tried to pick holes in the science.

Surely nobody could pick holes in this lovely gesture?

Pick nits

To pick nits is to highlight small, insignificant problems or issues with something.

This idiom is normally heard in British English as nitpicking.

Forgive me if I seem to be nitpicking, but a meerkat is not really a cat.

I hate it when the teacher nitpicks my writing.

Again, this is slight nitpicking after what we managed to achieve.

Pick out of hat

To pick someone or something out of a hat is to make a completely random choice.

It doesn’t really matter who gets the supervisor’s job – just pick a name out of a hat!

I don’t know why they bothered with the interviews if they were just going to pick a name out of a hat.

She didn’t mind where we went on holiday, so we just picked a place out of a hat.

Pick up steam

Something which gradually grows in power, strength, momentum, etc., picks up steam.

The campaign for a second referendum has been picking up steam.

The global economy should begin to pick up steam in the next twelve months.

I hope you will pick up enough steam to do the Activation Quiz at the end of this English Activation Pack.

Pick up the gauntlet

To pick up the gauntlet is to accept a challenge.

When it came to protecting workers’ rights, Sam was always quick to pick up the gauntlet.

I waited for quite a while for someone to pick up the gauntlet and follow in Harold’s footsteps.

He finally and begrudgingly picked up the Gauntlet and decided to do it himself.

Pick-me-up

Something, like food or drink, which improves the user’s mood or energy levels is a pick-me-up.

We stopped for a pick-me-up at a coffee house.

If you need a pick-me-up for the holidays, I recommend this book.

After a long day in the classroom, she needs a little pick-me-up when she gets home.

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are a class of verbs which combine with a preposition or adverb to act as a single verb which says more than the words themselves. The meaning of a phrasal verb is often very different to the meanings of the words that are in the phrasal verb and this makes them difficult for students of English to master. Native English speakers tend to use lots of phrasal verbs when speaking.

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The Black Hole

Activate your listening skills with a short story, then enhance your understanding with a short video, and finally activate some phrasal verbs with a substitution exercise. In the story of the Black Hole, an office worker is waiting for the photocopier to finish copying. There's a problem with the copier and he kicks the machine in frustration. A moment later a sheet of paper emerges with a large black circle printed on it. The man visually examines the circle on the sheet of paper and is puzzled. He puts the paper down and opens the lid of the copier to see what the problem is. He closes the lid of the copier, checks the time on his watch, and takes a final drink from a white plastic cup. He places the plastic cap on the black circle on the sheet of paper and is shocked to see that the plastic cup disappears. Puzzled, he looks closely at the sheet of paper and the black circle. He touches the black circle tentatively before putting his hand into the circle. His hand disappears...

Categories: Phrasal Verbs | Vocabulary | Humour


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The Fisherman and the Little Fish

The Fisherman and the Little Fish tells the moral that it's better to accept what you have than to gamble on what you might not get. I have rewritten the Aesop's fable using as many phrasal verbs as I could come up with. If you are interested in learning some new phrasal verbs, this video is not to be sniffed at. Don't let your interest fizzle out and see what phrasal verbs I have come up with. If you want to improve your knowledge of phrasal verbs, it's time to check out this lesson.  

Categories: Phrasal Verbs | Idioms | Literature | Listenings


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