5 Common Phrasal Verbs, Meanings and Examples

Turn in
The phrasal verb “turn in” has several meanings, depending on the context. Here are the most common meanings and examples:

1. **To submit or hand in something**:
– Example 1: “I need to turn in my homework by tomorrow morning.”
– Example 2: “The deadline for turning in job applications is next week.”

2. **To go to bed or go to sleep**:
– Example 1: “I’m feeling tired, so I’m going to turn in early tonight.”
– Example 2: “She turned in late last night after a long day at work.”

3. **To inform on or report someone to authorities**:
– Example: “He didn’t want to turn in his friends to the police, but he knew it was the right thing to do.”

4. **To change direction or orientation**:
– Example: “The road turns in the forest and becomes narrower.”

5. **To surrender or give oneself up to authorities, especially in a legal context**:
– Example: “The fugitive decided to turn himself in to the police.”

6. **To become a particular type or take on a specific form**:
– Example: “The discussion turned into a heated argument.”

7. **To produce or generate a profit or result**:
– Example: “Their hard work eventually turned in a substantial profit.”

The meaning of “turn in” in a sentence will depend on the surrounding context, so it’s essential to consider the situation when interpreting it.
Turn on
The phrasal verb “turn on” has several meanings depending on the context. Here are the most common meanings and examples:

1. **To activate or start a machine, device, or appliance**:
– Example 1: “Please turn on the lights; it’s getting dark in here.”
– Example 2: “I turned on the TV to watch the news.”

2. **To cause someone to become interested or excited about something**:
– Example 1: “Her passionate speech turned the audience on to the importance of environmental conservation.”
– Example 2: “The new book turned him on to science fiction literature.”

3. **To sexually arouse or excite someone**:
– Example: “His suggestive comments and actions were intended to turn her on.”

4. **To attack or confront someone suddenly and unexpectedly** (informal, often used in a negative context):
– Example: “He’s the kind of person who can turn on you when you least expect it.”

5. **To become hostile or unfriendly toward someone, often without warning**:
– Example: “I thought we were friends, but she suddenly turned on me and started criticizing everything I did.”

6. **To rely on or trust someone or something**:
– Example: “In this job, you need to turn on your teammates; it’s a team effort.”

7. **To become functional or operational**:
– Example: “The heating system will turn on automatically when the temperature drops.”

The meaning of “turn on” in a sentence will depend on the context in which it is used, so it’s essential to consider the situation when interpreting it.
Turn over
The phrasal verb “turn over” has several meanings, depending on the context. Here are the most common meanings and examples:

1. **To flip or rotate something so that the other side or surface is facing up**:
– Example 1: “Please turn over the page to continue reading.”
– Example 2: “He turned over the pancakes to cook the other side.”

2. **To transfer control or possession of something to someone else**:
– Example: “The business owner decided to turn over the company to his son when he retired.”

3. **To change or exchange one thing for another**:
– Example: “They turned over their old car for a new, more fuel-efficient model.”

4. **To produce or generate a certain amount of revenue or income**:
– Example: “The company turned over millions of dollars in profits last year.”

5. **To hand over or surrender someone or something to authorities, often implying arrest**:
– Example: “The police turned over the suspect to the detectives for questioning.”

6. **To think about or consider something carefully**:
– Example: “She spent the weekend turning over the idea of starting her own business.”

7. **To undergo a change or transition**:
– Example: “The company has turned over a new leaf and is now committed to sustainable practices.”

8. **To physically or figuratively bring something to a different position or orientation**:
– Example: “He turned over the soil in the garden to prepare it for planting.”

9. **To surrender or give up control of oneself** (often in the context of sleep or rest):
– Example: “After a long day at work, he finally turned over and fell asleep.”

The meaning of “turn over” in a sentence depends on the context in which it is used, so it’s important to consider the situation when interpreting it.
Hook up
The phrasal verb “hook up” has several meanings, and its specific interpretation can vary depending on the context. Here are some common meanings and examples:

1. **To connect or link things together**:
– Example 1: “I need to hook up my computer to the printer so I can print this document.”
– Example 2: “They hooked up the speakers to the stereo system for better sound quality.”

2. **To meet with someone, often for a casual or romantic encounter**:
– Example 1: “They hooked up at the party last night and spent hours talking.”
– Example 2: “Are you two just friends, or did you actually hook up?”

3. **To engage in sexual activity or have a sexual encounter with someone**:
– Example 1: “They hooked up after the club closed and had a one-night stand.”
– Example 2: “Some people prefer to hook up rather than pursue long-term relationships.”

4. **To form a connection or alliance with someone or something**:
– Example 1: “The two companies decided to hook up to collaborate on a new project.”
– Example 2: “He managed to hook up with a renowned expert in his field for guidance.”

5. **To provide or supply someone with something, often informally**:
– Example: “Can you hook me up with a ride to the airport tomorrow?”

6. **To be attracted to or interested in something or someone**:
– Example: “I really hooked up with that new book; I couldn’t put it down.”

7. **To become associated with or involved in something**:
– Example: “She didn’t want to hook up with that group because of their bad reputation.”

The meaning of “hook up” in a sentence depends on the context, so it’s important to consider the situation when interpreting it, as it can range from connecting objects to engaging in social or romantic activities.
Work out​
The phrasal verb “work out” has several meanings, and its specific interpretation can vary depending on the context. Here are some common meanings and examples:

1. **To exercise or engage in physical activity**:
– Example 1: “I try to work out at the gym for an hour every day.”
– Example 2: “She prefers to work out in the morning to boost her energy for the day.”

2. **To find a solution or resolve a problem**:
– Example 1: “We need to work out the details of the project before we can proceed.”
– Example 2: “I’m sure we can work out a compromise that benefits both parties.”

3. **To be successful or have a positive outcome**:
– Example 1: “Their plan to expand the business worked out well, and they saw significant growth.”
– Example 2: “I hope everything works out for you in your new job.”

4. **To calculate or determine a result, usually involving mathematics or numbers**:
– Example: “I need to work out the total cost of the project before presenting it to the client.”

5. **To engage in a training session or practice, often related to sports or fitness**:
– Example: “The team will work out their plays and strategies before the big game.”

6. **To spend time together and develop a romantic or social relationship**:
– Example: “They met at the conference and decided to work out their differences over dinner.”

7. **To endure or withstand difficulties, challenges, or hardships**:
– Example: “Their relationship has worked out despite the long-distance and time zone differences.”

8. **To wear or use something until it no longer functions properly**:
– Example: “I’ve been working out these old sneakers for years, but it’s time for a new pair.”

9. **To come to a conclusion or final decision**:
– Example: “After much discussion, they finally worked out that they should invest in the new technology.”

The meaning of “work out” in a sentence depends on the context in which it is used, so it’s important to consider the situation when interpreting it.

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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