Verb_ Pick (1)

Firstly, let’s outline briefly what a phrasal verb actually is!

Have you ever noticed how when you sometimes add a seemingly tiny word like a preposition or an adverb after a verb, the meaning can completely change?

That’s phrasal verbs. They’re a little bit wacky.

Let’s look at some examples.


Verb: Pick

“Pick” is just a normal verb, not a phrasal verb. It can mean a few things. Let’s focus on one meaning for our example: to select or choose.

We need to pick which meal we’d like to eat.

But look what happens to ‘pick’ when we add the word ‘up’.


Phrasal Verb: Pick Up

Now, as if by some kind of magic, “pick” has become a phrasal verb. To ‘pick up’ can actually mean many different things. We’ll look at just four of the possible meanings in this post: to improve, to collect someone or something, and to acquire knowledge.


Let’s look at an example for each of these:

  • Improve: The weather is picking up lately, isn’t it?
  • Collect someone: Can you pick up Jenny after football practice?
  • Collect something: Can you pick up my parcel from the post office?
  • Acquire knowledge: James picked up Spanish really quickly.


Who’d have thought that the addition of the tiny word ‘up’ could make such a difference?


Why are phrasal verbs important?

Phrasal verbs are very common – they appear in all areas of English, from business English and academic English right the way through to informal, spoken English.

Using phrasal verbs correctly makes your English sound natural and fluent and they occur so frequently in English that students need to master them if they are ever going to progress.

What is a Phrasal Verb?