How to Use Your English Instead of Phrasal Verbs (+ 25 examples)
Love – hate.
That’s how I’d define your relationship with phrasal verbs.
Those endless lists of verb + preposition that you had to revise and memorise at school so that you’d sound more ‘natural’. More like a native speaker.
The same phrasal verbs that haunt you to this day.
Just as you’re in the middle of making a crucial point in that meeting, the preposition stops you mid-flow.
“Is it cut back, cut off or cut in? ” “What does ‘cut it out’ mean? ”
So much time is spent/wasted trying to retrieve those phrasal verbs from the deepest recesses of your mind when you already have the perfect word you can use instead.
An English word you already know. An English word that everyone understands. That’s what counts. Using the language your audience understands.
Why get stressed out when that phrasal verb is not going to add anything to how you communicate?
And before you write to me saying that you don’t have enough alternative vocabulary, let me put you to the test.
Here are 25 examples of phrasal verbs and their one-word substitute which I’ve divided into 5 business scenarios so that you have context.
How many do you already know and use?
25 phrasal verbs and their one-word synonyms
I have practised so hard for this presentation, I hope I manage to get my message across clearly
I hope I manage to communicate/convey my message clearly”.
It’s worth pointing out that these figures relate to the last quarter.
It’s worth explaining/mentioning that these figures relate to the last quarter.
I am delighted to announce that we’ve managed to cut down on our annual electricity usage by 20%.
I am delighted to announce that we’ve managed to reduce our annual electricity usage by 20%.
My colleague touched on the need to refocus our efforts in this area.
My colleague mentioned/referred to/ raised the need to refocus our efforts in this area.
My colleague has just handed out a set of figures I’d like to discuss with you.
My colleague has just distributed a set of figures I’d like to discuss with you.
Can you set the meeting up for next Friday?
Can you arrange/schedule the meeting for next Friday?
I need to call off tomorrow’s meeting.
I need to cancel tomorrow’s meeting.
Can you look into the different options for me?
Can you research the different options for me?
Ok, we need to draw up a draft agreement and submit it to them.
We need to prepare a draft agreement and submit it to them.
We can’t keep putting off the decision.
We can’t keep delaying the decision.
Ok, that’s great. Could you pass the message on to Luke?
Could you give the message to Luke?
We need to make sure of the safety of the equipment.
We need to ensure the safety of the equipment.
To be honest, I don’t think we should put up with such unreasonable behaviour from some of our clients.
I don’t think we should tolerate such unreasonable behaviour from some of our clients.
The negotiations with our distributors have broken down.
The negotiations with our distributors have disintegrated/collapsed.
Listen to this. Lucia has come up with an ingenious way of gathering the data we need.
Lucia has found/devised an ingenious way of gathering the data we need.
It was a tempting offer, but in the end, I decided to turn it down.
It was a tempting offer, but in the end, I decided to reject/refuse/decline it.
Depending on the time you have, sometimes it’s best to leave out the information about the early years of your career.
Depending on the time you have, sometimes it’s best to omit the information about the early years of your career.
It’s not worth making things up in your CV because sooner or later the truth will come out.
It’s not worth fabricating things in your CV because sooner or later the truth will be revealed/exposed.
I was very fortunate to have an inspirational boss who I looked up to.
I was very fortunate to have an inspirational boss who I respected/ admired.
I would say I am a sociable person who gets along with everyone.
I would say I am a sociable person who is friendly with everyone.
Congratulations on winning that contract. This calls for champagne to celebrate.
This requires champagne to celebrate.”
Your story is fascinating. Please go on.
I prefer to hold out for dinner than have a snack now.
I prefer to wait for dinner than have a snack now.
I am sorry but I am stuck in traffic. I don’t want to hold you up. Please start without me.
I am sorry but I am stuck in traffic. I don’t want to delay you. Please start without me.
I love engaging in small talk with my colleagues because I find out such interesting things about them.
I love engaging in small talk with my colleagues because I discover such interesting things about them.
Believe it or not, it’s much harder for monolingual (native) speakers of English to remember the one-word synonym. Using phrasal verbs is the lazy option. And when we get lazy, we expect everyone else to understand our choice of words.
When we get lazy, we stop communicating effectively.
Don’t allow your ‘lack’ of phrasal verbs to distort the view you have of yourself. Don’t focus on what you don’t have (scarcity) and instead, reflect on what language you already have (abundance) and capitalise on it.