4 Must-Know Phrasal Verbs: Make out, Make up, Put off, Bring up


“to make out”
The phrasal verb “to make out” has several different meanings and uses, depending on the context. Here are some of the common uses of this phrasal verb with examples:

1. **To Kiss Passionately**:
– *They were making out in the backseat of the car.*
– *The young couple made out by the river, lost in each other’s embrace.*

2. **To Discern or Perceive**:
– *It was hard to make out the details in the fog.*
– *I couldn’t make out what he was saying over the loud music.*

3. **To Succeed or Fare Well**:
– *She made out very well in the stock market.*
– *Despite the challenging circumstances, the team made out better than expected.*

4. **To Fill Out or Complete a Form or Document**:
– *Please make out this check to the order of John Smith.*
– *I need to make out a report on our progress for the month.*

5. **To Pretend or Exaggerate**:
– *He’s always making out like he’s the expert on everything.*
– *She made out that she had more experience than she actually did to get the job.*

6. **To Comprehend or Understand**:
– *I couldn’t make out the meaning of that ancient text.*
– *Can you make out what this sign says?*

7. **To Engage in Sexual Activity or Have Intercourse** (often considered informal or slang):
– *They disappeared into the bedroom to make out.*
– *He bragged about making out with someone at the party last night.*

8. **To Achieve Something or Get Something Done**:
– *I’ll see if I can make out some progress on this project by the end of the day.*
– *We need to make out a plan to finish this assignment on time.*

9. **To Create a List or Itemize**:
– *Please make out a grocery list for the items we need.*
– *She made out a checklist of tasks for the team to complete.*

10. **To Experience or Endure**:
– *The hikers had to make out through a harsh winter storm.*
– *The survivors made out after the earthquake, despite losing their homes.*

The meaning of “make out” can vary depending on the context and the prepositions or objects that follow it, so it’s essential to consider the specific situation to understand its intended sense correctly.

“to make up”

The phrasal verb “to make up” has several different meanings and uses, depending on the context. Here are some common uses of this phrasal verb with examples:

1. **To Invent or Create Fiction**:
– *She likes to make up stories to entertain her younger siblings.*
– *He made up a fake excuse for being late to work.*

2. **To Reconcile or Resolve Differences**:
– *After their argument, they decided to make up and be friends again.*
– *Couples often have to make up after disagreements.*

3. **To Compensate for Something Missed or Lost**:
– *I missed the meeting, so I’ll have to make up for it by working extra hours.*
– *You need to make up the time you spent on that project by working late this week.*

4. **To Apply Cosmetics or Enhancements**:
– *She spends hours in front of the mirror making up her face.*
– *He made up his eyes with dark eyeliner for the party.*

5. **To Form a Whole or Complete Something**:
– *The final exam grade is made up of several components, including essays and a presentation.*
– *This puzzle is made up of 500 pieces.*

6. **To Assemble or Prepare Something**:
– *I’ll make up a salad for lunch.*
– *She made up a bed for her guest in the spare room.*

7. **To Apologize or Atone for Mistakes or Wrongdoings**:
– *He realized he was wrong and decided to make up for his behavior.*
– *She made up with her coworker after a misunderstanding.*

8. **To Put on a Disguise or Costume**:
– *They made up as clowns for the circus-themed party.*
– *Children love to make up as their favorite superheroes for Halloween.*

9. **To Fabricate or Exaggerate**:
– *He tends to make up excuses when he doesn’t want to do something.*
– *She made up a fantastic adventure to entertain the kids.*

10. **To Fill a Gap or Shortage**:
– *We need to make up the missing supplies before the project can continue.*
– *They have to make up the deficit in their budget.*

The meaning of “make up” can vary depending on the context and the prepositions or objects that follow it, so it’s important to consider the specific situation to understand its intended sense correctly.

“to bring up”
The phrasal verb “to bring up” has several different meanings and uses, depending on the context. Here are some common uses of this phrasal verb with examples:

1. **To Raise or Rear Children**:
– *They did an excellent job bringing up their kids.*
– *She was brought up in a loving and supportive family.*

2. **To Mention or Introduce a Topic**:
– *During the meeting, I’d like to bring up the issue of budget cuts.*
– *He brought up the subject of a weekend getaway with his partner.*

3. **To Nourish or Develop Something**:
– *Proper care and nutrition are essential to bring up healthy plants.*
– *He worked hard to bring up his skills in photography.*

4. **To Propose or Suggest**:
– *She brought up a great idea for the upcoming project.*
– *I’d like to bring up a possible solution to this problem.*

5. **To Elevate or Raise Something to a Higher Position**:
– *He brought up the window blinds to let in more light.*
– *The workers brought up the heavy equipment to the top floor.*

6. **To Mention Someone’s Past or Background**:
– *She never brings up her difficult childhood.*
– *He was hesitant to bring up his criminal record during the job interview.*

7. **To Vomit or Regurgitate** (often considered informal):
– *The motion sickness made her bring up her lunch.*
– *He felt so ill that he had to bring up everything he’d eaten.*

8. **To Train or Discipline Someone**:
– *His parents brought him up to be polite and respectful.*
– *The coach brought up the young athlete to perform at his best.*

9. **To Convey Something to a Higher Authority**:
– *I’ll bring up your concerns with the manager.*
– *Please bring up this issue with the board of directors.*

10. **To Return Something to One’s Attention**:
– *I’d like to bring up that book you lent me.*
– *She brought up the topic we discussed last week.*

The meaning of “bring up” can vary depending on the context and the prepositions or objects that follow it, so it’s important to consider the specific situation to understand its intended sense correctly.

“to put off”

The phrasal verb “to put off” has several different meanings and uses, depending on the context. Here are some common uses of this phrasal verb with examples:

1. **To Delay or Postpone**:
– *They had to put off the meeting until next week.*
– *I put off my dentist appointment because I was busy.*

2. **To Procrastinate or Avoid Doing Something**:
– *He tends to put off studying until the last minute.*
– *Don’t put off doing your taxes; the deadline is approaching.*

3. **To Deter or Dishearten**:
– *The bad weather didn’t put off the determined hikers.*
– *Despite the challenges, the team was not put off by the competition.*

4. **To Cause Disgust or Disinterest**:
– *The unpleasant smell put off many customers from entering the restaurant.*
– *His rude behavior put off everyone at the party.*

5. **To Remove or Take Off Clothing or Accessories**:
– *She put off her coat as soon as she entered the warm house.*
– *He put off his shoes before entering the house to avoid tracking dirt.*

6. **To Arrange or Plan a Future Event**:
– *They decided to put off the wedding until the following summer.*
– *Let’s put off our vacation until we have more time to plan.*

7. **To Assign or Delegate Responsibility to Someone Else**:
– *He put off the task to his colleague because he was too busy.*
– *She put off the project to a team of experts.*

8. **To Repel or Displease Someone**:
– *His arrogant attitude put off potential clients.*
– *The offensive comments in his speech put off many listeners.*

9. **To Turn Off or Deactivate a Device or Appliance**:
– *Don’t forget to put off the lights before leaving the room.*
– *She put off her phone to conserve battery.*

10. **To Dispose of or Get Rid of Something**:
– *I need to put off these old clothes; they no longer fit.*
– *They decided to put off the old furniture by donating it to charity.*

The meaning of “put off” can vary depending on the context and the prepositions or objects that follow it, so it’s important to consider the specific situation to understand its intended sense correctly.

Your English Coach,
Gabby from Go Natural English

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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