3 Essential Phrasal Verbs: to pick up, to pick out, and to run into


“to pick up”
The phrasal verb “to pick up” has several meanings and uses in English, depending on the context. Here are some of its common meanings with examples:

1. **To lift or raise something from a surface:**
– She picked up the book from the table.
– Please pick up those toys from the floor.

2. **To acquire or obtain something:**
– I need to pick up some groceries on my way home.
– He picked up a new skill during his vacation.

3. **To collect or gather something:**
– Let’s pick up some firewood for the camping trip.
– The charity event aims to pick up donations for the homeless.

4. **To improve or recover from a situation or condition:**
– She’s starting to pick up her grades in school.
– After a few days of rest, he’s picking up his strength.

5. **To learn or understand something gradually:**
– He picked up the basics of the language while living abroad.
– Can you pick up the main points from the meeting notes?

6. **To take someone or something on board, usually in a vehicle:**
– I’ll pick you up at the airport at 3 PM.
– Can you pick up some friends on your way to the party?

7. **To answer a phone call or respond to a signal:**
– Sorry, I couldn’t pick up the phone earlier.
– When you hear the signal, please pick up the walkie-talkie.

8. **To flirt with or show romantic interest in someone:**
– He’s been trying to pick up that girl at the bar all night.
– She didn’t appreciate him trying to pick her up at the gym.

9. **To clean or tidy up a space:**
– I need to pick up the living room before our guests arrive.
– Can you help me pick up the kitchen after dinner?

10. **To increase in speed or intensity:**
– The wind began to pick up as the storm approached.
– The pace of the race will pick up in the final stretch.

Remember that the meaning of “pick up” can vary depending on the context, so it’s important to consider the surrounding words and the situation to determine its exact meaning.

“to pick out”
The phrasal verb “to pick out” has several meanings and uses in English, depending on the context. Here are some of its common meanings with examples:

1. **To select or choose something or someone from a group:**
– She picked out a beautiful dress for the party.
– Can you help me pick out the best candidate for the job?

2. **To identify or recognize something or someone among a group or in a specific context:**
– He was able to pick out his mother’s voice in the crowded room.
– I can’t pick out the constellations in the city because of all the lights.

3. **To highlight or emphasize something from a larger context:**
– The artist used vibrant colors to pick out the details of the landscape.
– The report will pick out the key findings of the study.

4. **To purchase or buy something, often after careful consideration:**
– We picked out a new sofa for the living room.
– I picked out a pair of shoes that matched my outfit perfectly.

5. **To separate or distinguish one thing from others:**
– She tried to pick out the important information from the lengthy document.
– Can you pick out the main points of the lecture for me?

6. **To single out or point to someone or something:**
– The teacher picked out the best student in the class for a special award.
– The detective picked out the suspect from a lineup.

7. **To play a specific melody or tune on a musical instrument:**
– He can pick out a tune on the piano by ear.
– She picked out a beautiful melody on her guitar.

8. **To isolate or separate from a larger group:**
– The coach picked out the most talented players for the starting lineup.
– We need to pick out the damaged items from the shipment.

9. **To find or discover something hidden or subtle:**
– I could barely pick out the trail in the dense forest.
– He managed to pick out a faint scent in the air.

10. **To criticize or point out flaws or faults in something or someone:**
– The reviewer didn’t hesitate to pick out the weaknesses in the film.
– It’s easy to pick out his mistakes in that report.

As with many phrasal verbs, the exact meaning of “pick out” can vary based on the context in which it is used. Consider the surrounding words and the situation to determine its specific meaning.


“to run into”
The phrasal verb “to run into” has several meanings and uses in English, depending on the context. Here are some of its common meanings with examples:

1. **To encounter or meet someone unexpectedly:**
– I ran into my old friend from college at the grocery store.
– She ran into her neighbor while taking a walk.

2. **To collide with something or someone unintentionally:**
– I wasn’t paying attention, and I ran into a lamppost.
– The car ran into a tree because the driver lost control.

3. **To experience or come across a problem or difficulty:**
– We ran into a technical issue while setting up the new software.
– They ran into financial problems when their business started to decline.

4. **To chance upon or find something unexpectedly:**
– I ran into some old photos while cleaning out the attic.
– She ran into a great deal on clothes at the thrift store.

5. **To bring up or mention a topic or subject in conversation:**
– He ran into the topic of climate change during the meeting.
– She ran into the issue of budget constraints in the discussion.

6. **To use up or deplete a resource or supply:**
– We ran into our savings when unexpected medical bills arose.
– The team ran into their time limit while working on the project.

7. **To happen or occur by chance or unexpectedly:**
– I didn’t plan it, but I ran into my favorite author at the bookstore.
– They ran into each other at the airport, coincidentally taking the same flight.

8. **To encounter difficulties or obstacles in progress or a process:**
– We ran into some roadblocks while trying to complete the project on time.
– She ran into technical challenges when building the website.

9. **To enter a situation or state suddenly or unexpectedly:**
– The meeting was boring until she ran into the room with exciting news.
– He ran into the house, out of breath, to share the surprising news.

10. **To collide or come into contact with an idea or belief:**
– His views on politics often run into opposition from his family.
– My proposal ran into resistance from the team.

The meaning of “run into” can vary significantly based on the context, so it’s important to consider the surrounding words and the situation to determine its specific meaning in a given sentence.

Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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