20 Phrasal Verbs for Work and Business


Here is a list of 20 phrasal verbs used in work and business settings.

1. Burn out

Become emotionally and physically exhausted or have your health negatively impacted due to overworking – “Someone needs to warn Ali; if he continues spending more than 15 hours a day at the office, he’ll burn out very soon, and that won’t be good for business. [transitive / intransitive: separable]

2. Call off

Cancel an event or activity – “It’s better to just call off the team building event than to exclude some of our colleagues. We can try planning another one when the budget allows.” [transitive: separable]

3. Count on

Trust or depend on someone or something – “Because Élise shared similar views with her, Tammy knew that she could count on her support in her bid against the new working hours. [transitive: inseparable]

4. Cut back on

Reduce the amount or cost of something – “We need to cut back on certain office expenses until our profit margins start showing more of an improvement. [transitive / intransitive: inseparable]

5. Cut in

Interrupt while someone is speaking by saying something yourself – “I’m sorry to cut in, but what I have to say is of extreme importance.” [intransitive]

6. Draw up

To prepare a document or plan – “Mr. García only uses one lawyer for drawing up his company’s legal documents.” [transitive: separable]

7. Drop by / stop by

Visit briefly without an appointment – “The new CEO likes to drop by our office on random days to see how we’re doing.” [intransitive]

“Stop by” has a similar meaning, accept it suggests that you were on your way somewhere else, and decided to stop shortly for an informal visit before continuing to your destination.

8. Drum up

Get (increase) support, publicity or business activity; generate people’s interest in something – “Four competing companies have united on an advertising campaign in order to drum up their sales.” [transitive: separable]

9. Fall through

Fail to happen – “They thought their negotiations with the manufacturer had gone successfully, but the deal fell through as they were making arrangements to pay the deposit fee.” [intransitive]

10. Fill in (for someone)

Do someone’s work while they are away – “Janet needs to attend a conference in Poland in two weeks’ time. She asked me if I would be able to fill in for her.” [intransitive]

11. Get ahead

Become successful in your career; make considerable progress – “Only people with discipline, confidence, determination and great communication skills get ahead in this industry.” [intransitive]

12. Go after

a) Follow someone or something with the intention to get or catch it – “You need to go after him right now and tell him what you think. It might be too late if you let him leave the building without knowing.” [transitive: inseparable]

b) Pursue; try to get something – “Many people are going after the senior manager’s position, but I believe that you will get it.” [transitive: inseparable]

13. Go over

a) Carefully examine or discuss a document, issue or idea – “I asked my lawyer to go over the contract before I signed it.” [transitive: inseparable]

b) Repeat something – “It is wise to go over your presentation several times before delivering it.” [transitive: inseparable]

14. Lay off

End someone’s employment because of a shortage of work or money – “The recession has forced companies to lay off thousands of employees indefinitely.” [transitive: separable]

15. Pencil in

Make a provisional arrangement for an appointment or activity – “I’ll pencil you in for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and will let you know on Monday morning if anything changes.” [transitive: separable]

16. Pull off

Succeed in achieving something difficult or perceived as impossible – “An American website recently published an article about how Donald Trump pulled off a miracle by winning the presidency.” [transitive: separable]

17. Put off

Postpone an event or activity – “They have agreed to put off the sales meeting until next month.” [transitive: separable]

18. Run by / past

Tell someone something to get their opinion or make sure they understand – “That’s an excellent idea. You should run it by Mr. García, I’m sure he’ll be as impressed by it as I am.” [transitive: separable]

19. Shop around

Go to different shops or companies to compare prices before deciding on the best offer or deal – “After a heated negotiation with the architectural firm, they decided it would be best to shop around for other offers before signing anything.” [intransitive]

20. Zero in on

Focus closely on one something, and give it your full attention – “From now until the end of the month, we need to put all other assignments aside and zero in on the Chinese telecommunications campaign.” [transitive: inseparable]

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