Phrasal Verbs Lesson 6
In lesson number 6 we’re going to have a look at the following phrasal verbs: Call back, fall apart, hold on, hang on, throw away, use up.
(Rick and Heather* are tidying their bedroom)
*See lesson 5 for an introduction to Rick and Heather.
Rick: This desk is falling apart; what should we do with it?
Heather: I think we should throw it away.
Rick: I hate doing that, but I guess it’s the best option.
Heather: Rick… how many cans of shaving foam do you need?
Rick: Hang on, I’ve got a call. (Rick picks up the phone) Hey mum, can I call you back in 30 minutes, we’re just tidying at the moment.
Heather: There are 7 cans of shaving foam here and they’re not empty! Why do you never use them up?
Rick: I didn’t know I had that many. I was going to buy some more today too, but I should use these up first.
Heather: Good! OK, I’m going to take a look at my clothes and see what I can give away.
When something is falling apart it means that it is breaking down or collapsing. In the conversation Heather talked about a desk that was falling apart. Here you can imagine a broken draw, a crack on the surface, and loose legs. More examples:
- We have to spend a lot of money on our house because it’s falling apart.
- We need a new car, this one just keeps falling apart.
Fall apart can also be used to describe an idea, a team, or a business that isn’t doing well:
- Their political campaign is falling apart.
- Real Madrid are starting to fall apart, the other team look like they are going to win.
- Because they didn’t open an online store, their business is starting to fall apart.
Another way it can be used is to talk about someone having a breakdown:
- He started to fall apart after his divorce.
- I’m worried about Simon, he’s starting to fall apart.
To throw something away means to put it in the bin. A good example is food: Sometimes there are a lot of things that need throwing away, especially things at the back of the fridge that you forgot about. Here are more examples:
- We threw away a lot of things when we moved house.
- I hate throwing things away, I shouldn’t have bought them in the first place.
- You should try to recycle and compost instead of just throwing things away.
These are used when you want someone to wait for a short period of time. When I ask my wife a question, she often tells me to hang on so she can finish writing or reading something. More examples:
- (In a restaurant) Can you just hang on/hold on a sec, I’ll be right there.
- (On the phone) Hang on/hold on mum, there’s someone at the door.
A more formal way of using hang on during phone conversations (think of call centers) is the phrase, “Can you please hold.” This isn’t normal during regular conversation.
The phrase, “Hold/hang on a second (sec)” is used a lot when someone is surprised about what someone said and wants confirmation:
- I’m moving to Spain next month -> Hold on a sec, what did you just say?
Hold On – Alabama Shakes
To call someone back means to call again or to return a call. If there is a bad connection during my Skype lessons, I ask my students if I can “call them back.” “Can I call you back?” is the question I use.
It is also used to return a call:
- Paul called when you were out, he asked you to call him back.
- I need to call back my mother, I forgot that she called yesterday.
- You should call him back, he’s waiting for an answer.
To use something up means to consume something completely. This is related to throw away:
- You should use up all of the sauce before we throw it away.
Here are more examples (notice ‘all of the’):
- I’ve used up all of my holiday money, can you lend me some?
- What will happen when we use up all of the oil?
- We’ve used up all of the firewood, can you get some more?
This is similar to the phrasal verb, ‘run out of’
- We’ve run out of sugar, can you get some more?
- We’re going to run out of toilet roll soon.
Complete the sentences using the following phrasal verbs: fall apart, throw away, hold on, call back, use up (only some are used twice).
1. You shouldn’t _____ it _____, you can recycle mobile phones these days.
2. Let’s try to __________ all the milk before we go away.
3. Could you ___________ a second, I just need to take this call.
4. It’s a terrible investment, the house is __________.
5. I _____ so much ______ last week. It’s good to have a lot of space again.
6. Damn. I forgot to _____ my mum _____ yesterday. I’ll try calling her now.
1. throw / away
2. use up
3. hold on or hang on
4. falling apart
5. threw / away
6. call / back