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FOCUS ON: phrasal verbs used as nouns, 1


FOCUS ON phrasal verbs used as nouns, 1

Many two-word phrasal verbs can be used as nouns. All the verbs in this section have a noun form. Notice that the two-word noun is sometimes written with a hyphen:

verb: go ahead 

noun: go-ahead

and sometimes as one word:

verb: lay off 

noun: layoff

Unfortunately, there is no rule that will help you to always know which form to use. Also, not everyone agrees which nouns should be hyphenated and which should be written as one word, so you will occasionally see a noun written both ways.


present tense

-ing form

past tense

past participle

fall off

fall off & falls off

falling off

fell off

fallen off

fall off p.v. When people or things drop to a lower level from a higher place, they fall off the place where they were.

The dish fell off the table and broke.
Be careful you don't fall off your bicycle.


2. fall off p.v. When the quality, degree, or frequency of something decreases, it falls off.

Sales of fountain pens fell off after the ballpoint pen was invented.

The quality of his work has fallen off as he has gotten older.

falloff n. A decrease in the quality, degree, or frequency of something is a falloff.

The chairman was asked to explain the falloff in the company's sales.

Egypt experienced a big falloff in tourism after several terrorist incidents.


present tense

-ing form

past tense

past participle

fill in

fill in & fills in

filling in

filled in

filled in

fill... in p.v. When you fill in a form, you put information in the correct spaces.
Fill out is the same as fill in.

Maria filled in the job application and gave it to the secretary.

The teacher gave us the quiz and told us to fill the blanks in with the correct answers.

filled in part.adj. After you write all the information in the correct spaces of a form, the form is filled in.

Are those forms blank or filled in?

This check isn't any good the amount isn't filled in.

fill... in p.v. When people want or need more information about a plan, situation,
or occurrence and you supply that information, you fill them in.

Something interesting happened while you were gone. I'll fill you in later.

I fell asleep during the meeting. Can you fill me in?

fill in (for) p.v. When you temporarily do someone else's job, you fill in for that

The regular bartender is on vacation, so Todd is filling in.

She's the star of the show. No one can fill in for her.

fill-in n. Someone who temporarily does someone else's job is a fill-in.

Jerry is Ann's fill-in while she's on vacation.

The regular driver is in the hospital, and the fill-in doesn't know the route.

go ahead

go ahead & goes ahead

going ahead

went ahead

gone ahead

1. go ahead (with) p.v. When you take an action you have already considered doing, you go ahead with the action.

I've decided to go ahead with my plan to reorganize the company.

After she learned about Jim's drug problem, Raquel went ahead with the marriage anyway.


2. go ahead p.v. When you tell people to go ahead, you tell them to do something without any further delay or hesitation. If you are in a position of authority and you tell someone to go ahead with an action, you give permission for that action.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead.

Yes, go ahead and leave work early. It's no problem.

go-ahead n. When you give people permission to perform an action, you give them the go-ahead.

We approved his plan and gave him the go-ahead.

The Food and Drug Administration gave the pharmaceutical company the go-ahead to test the drug on humans.


present tense

-ing form

past tense

past participle

grow up

grow up & grows up

growing up

grew up

grown up

grow up p.v. When you grow up, you gradually change from a child to an adult.

I grew up on a small farm in North Dakota.

Growing up without a father wasn't easy.

grown-up part.adj. [informal used primarily by children] When children behave in a mature way, they are grown-up. Something that relates to adults, and not children, is grown-up.

Susie is only eleven, but she acts very grown-up.

Timmy doesn't like grown-up books because they don't have any pictures.

grown-up n. [informal used primarily by children] A grown-up is an adult.

There were children and grown-ups at the party.

Only grown-ups are allowed to sit in the front seat of the car.

grow up p.v. When you tell people to grow up, you are saying that their behavior
is childish and immature.

You're acting like a baby. Why don't you grow up!

When he put his fist through the wall, I said, "Oh, grow up!"

hand out

hand out & hands out

handing out

handed out

handed out

1. hand ... out p.v. When you distribute something to other people, you hand it out. Give out is similar to hand out.

The teacher handed the tests out to the class.

Emergency loan applications were handed out to the flood victims.

handout n. Something given free to people in need to help them is a handout.


Handouts of food and clothing were given to the homeless people.
Even though my father was poor, he was too proud to ask for a handout.

handout n. Printed material given to students or other people to provide them with important information.

The teacher prepared a handout for his students.
There are several handouts on a table by the library entrance.


present tense

-ing form

past tense

past participle

kick back

kick back & kicks back

kicking back

kicked back

kicked back

kick back (to) p.v. When you kick back money or kick back money to businesspeople or government officials, you illegally and secretly give them a percentage of the money that they spend with your company as a reward for giving you the business.

The prosecutor said that percent of every contract was kicked back to the head of the purchasing department.

She offered to kick back 10 percent if I'd switch to her company.

kickback n. Money you illegally and secretly give to businesspeople or government officials as a reward for giving you business is a kickback.

The FBI agent heard the governor asking for a kickback. The reporter discovered that the loan was really a kickback.

kick back p.v. [informal] When you kick back, you relax.

It's been a tough week. Tonight I'm going to buy a case of beer and kick back.
Let's kick back and watch the football game tonight.

lay off

lay off & lays off

laying off

laid off

laid off

lay off p.v. When a company no longer needs workers because it does not have enough business, it temporarily or permanently lays off the workers.

Ford laid off workers during the last recession. My wife had to go back to work after I was laid off from my job.

layoff n. Jobs cut by a company because it does not have enough business are layoffs.

The company said there wouldn't be any layoffs, despite the decline in profits.

lay off p.v. [informal] When you lay off people, you stop criticizing, teasing, or pressuring them.

You've been bugging me all day. If you don't lay off, you're going to be sorry.
Lay off Nancy she's having a bad day.

lay off p.v. When you lay off something, such as a food or an activity, you stop consuming the food, or doing the activity.

Listen to the way you're coughing. You've got to lay off cigarettes.
After Ned had a heart attack, he laid off cheese and butter sandwiches.


present tense

-ing form

past tense

past participle

screw up

screw up & screws up

screwing up

screwed up

screwed up

screw up p.v. [informal] When you damage something or do something wrong or badly, you screw up or you screw up what you are doing.

tried to fix my computer, but I couldn't do it, and I just screwed it up instead.
Mark sent his wife a letter that he wrote to his girlfriend. He sure screwed up.

screwed up part.adj. When people or things are screwed up, they are damaged or confused.

My back is so screwed up I can't even walk.
George was a nice guy, but a little screwed up in the head.

screwup n. A problem or confused situation caused by someone's mistake is a screwup.

Two babies were switched because of a screwup in the maternity ward. There was a screwup in the finance department, and the bill was paid twice.

screw... up p.v.[informal] When people make a mistake that causes a problem for you, they screw you up.

The travel agent forgot to reconfirm my flight, and it really screwed me up.
You really screwed me up when you lost my car keys.

EXERCISE 10a Complete the sentences with phrasal verbs from this section. Be sure the phrasal verbs are in the correct tense.

The teacher asked me to the exams

Why don't you let a mechanic fix the car? If you try to do it yourself, you'll just ________ it

Nobody likes the new priest in our church, and attendance has

My feet were killing me a couple of weeks ago, so I ________________ jogging for a while, and now they're fine.

It really me when you told my boss what I said about him.

The Ortega's won't take a vacation this year because Mr. Ortega has been _______ ________ and they need to save money.

When Mother was ________ ________, there wasn't any TV. People went to the movies or read instead.

The head of purchasing at my company went to jail because he made all the suppliers ________ ________ $2,000 of every contract.

My husband told me my plan to enter medical school was crazy, but I ________ ________ with it anyway.

The secretary in the human resources department said/Here's an application. Take it and ________ it ________."

If you want to borrow my car tonight, ________ ________. I'm not going anywhere.

The other mountain climbers are nervous about Jim because they think he's going to ________ ________ a cliff.

You've been criticizing me for the last three hours! Will you ______ ________!

The manager asked his assistant to ________ him about the problems in the warehouse.

It's Friday night. Let's buy some beer and

I can't work tomorrow. Can you ________ ________ for me?

You're acting like a big baby. ________ ________!

EXERCISE 10b Complete the sentences with nouns from this section.

At the party, the children ate in the living room, and the ___________ ate in the dining room.

The boss said, "One more ___________ and you're fired."

The reporter discovered that the mayor was taking ___________ from the construction company.

Every year at this time the king gives ___________ to the poor.

Ned will be my ___________ while I'm on my honeymoon.

The teacher prepared a ___________ to give to the students.

The CEO said he regretted the ___________ but that there was no other way for the company to avoid bankruptcy.

The team lost every game of the season and suffered a 60 percent in attendance.

The president called General Chambers and gave him the ___________ for the attack.

EXERCISE 10c Write three sentences using the objects in parentheses. Be sure to put the objects in the right place.

You haven't filled in. (all the spaces, them) ___________ ___________

Is the teacher handing out? (the tests, them)

The company is going to lay off. (my brother, him)

I'm sorry I screwed up. (your plan, it)

EXERCISE 10d Write answers to the questions using phrasal verbs, participle adjectives, and nouns from this section. Be sure the phrasal verbs are in the correct tense.

I wasn't sure if my plan would work, and I thought about it for a long time before I finally decided to try it. What did I do with my plan?

The secretary gave me an application and told me to put the correct information in the spaces, What did the secretary tell me to do?

In Question 2, how would you describe the application after I put the correct information in the spaces?

The mechanic is trying to fix my car's transmission, but she's making a lot of mistakes. What is the mechanic doing to my car's transmission?

In Question 4, how would you describe the transmission after the mechanic finishes fixing it?

You give $3,000 to the mayor every month so that he will give your company city business. What do you do every month?

In Question 6, what is the that you give to the mayor every month?

Business is bad at Nancy's company, and they told her that they don't need her anymore. What happened to Nancy?

The hotel clerk forgot to call me in the morning to wake me up, and I was late for a very important meeting. What did the hotel clerk do to me?

I was born in Hawaii, and I lived there until I was eighteen. What did I do in Hawaii?

Sally's parents told her she can't watch a TV show because it's for adults. What did Sally's parents tell her about the TV show?

New home construction will decrease if there is a recession. What will new home construction do if there is a recession?

In Question 12, if there is a decrease in new home construction, what would it be called?

Timmy was teasing Susie all day until his mother told him to stop. What did Timmy's mother tell him to do?

All is doing Omar's job while Omar is on vacation. What is Ali doing?

Blankets and boxes of food will be given to the people whose homes were destroyed by the tornado. What will be done with the blankets and boxes of food?

Sarah had to answer the phone while she was watching a movie. After she returned to the TV room, Sarah's friend Sally told Sarah everything she had missed. What did Sally do for Sarah?

EXERCISE 10e, Review Complete the sentences with these nouns from previous sections. To check their meanings, review the section number given after each one.

breakdown, 5 breakout,

holdup, 7 hookup,

put-on, 1 setup,

takeoff, 1

The pilot said that the ___________ would be on time.

There was a ___________ on the highway, and traffic was barely moving at all.

A cable ___________ is usually but this month it's free.

The guards suspected the prisoners were planning a ___________.

Waiter, we've been waiting for our dinner for an hour. What's the ___________?

I told my lawyer that it was a ___________ and that I was innocent.

When the detectives came and arrested Hank, we didn't think it was real just a big

EXERCISE 10f, Review Complete the sentences with these phrasal verbs from previous sections. Be sure the phrasal verbs are in the correct tense. To check their meanings, review the section number given after each one.

catch up, 9

chicken out,

get along, 9

give up,

hook up, 9

pick out, 8

talk down to, 3

work up,

Don't try to run ten miles at first; you have to ________ ________ to it.

After searching for three days without any luck, the rescue team ________ ________ on finding any survivors.

The police showed me some pictures to see if I could ________ ________ the guy who mugged me.

You go to the bank, I'll go to the post office, and we'll ________ ________ with each other at the corner in forty-five minutes.

I wasn't happy about having Nancy for a partner on the project. I don't ________ ________ with her.

Just because you went to college and I didn't, doesn't make it okay for you to _______ ________________me.

The teacher said, "Your daughter has missed a lot of school, and she'll need to work hard to ________ ________ to the rest of the class."

Maria got scared and__________of jumping off the high diving board.

11. FOCUS ON: phrasal verbs used in

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