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Formal and Informal Phrasal Verbs

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Phrasal verbs are called multi-word verbs. Phrasal verbs are especially common in daily conversation. Using phrasal verbs in your informal speech makes it sound more natural. There are phrasal verbs that can be used in formal and informal writing and speech. Learning formal and informal words are important part of writing and exams such as IELTS or TOEFL.

Single verbs are usually more formal than phrasal verbs! Yet, phrasal verbs are highly common in formal writing.

Some phrasal verbs are very formal and they are only used in very formal or serious writing.

You can use phrasal verbs in formal writing, as long as you choose those that are the most suitable for your context and audience.

You can learn most important formal and informal phrasal verbs below to increase your vocabulary.

PHRASAL VERB         VERB
INFORMAL       –     FORMAL

Ask out           –        invite

Break out       –        erupt

Bring up         –      mention (a topic / event)

Call on            –       visit

Check out      –        investigate

Come off        –        become detached

Drop out of    –       withdraw (from)

Duck out of     –      avoid

Enter into      –       become involved (in)

Face up to      –       accept (a difficult situation)

Fall into         –        belong (to a group/category)

Fall out with    –     quarrel

Find out           –      learn/discover

Fix up              –       arrange

Fork out          –        pay (money)

Gear up          –         prepare

Get away with   –      avoid punishment

Get out of           –       avoid

Go after               –       pursue

Go through         –        examine

Hit out at             –       criticize

Iron out              –          solve/overcome (a problem difficulty)

Keep up               –         maintain properly

Lie down             –         recline

Light up               –         illuminate

Look into             –         investigate

Look over            –          examine

Look up to           –          respect

Pass out               –           distribute

Pay back              –           repay

Pick on                 –            tease / annoy

Pick up                 –            collect

Put down             –            criticize

Put off                  –           postpone/delay

Put up with          –           tolerate

Show up              –             appear

Take off               –              leave

Talk into              –              persuade

Try out                –               test

Turn down         –               reject

Wait on               –                serve

Work out            –                resolve differences

Most phrasal verbs are neutral, neither informal or formal, there’s no reason not to use them in formal writing.

 

FORMAL PHRASAL VERBS

adhere to
appertain to
ascribe to
disabuse of
emanate from/to
depart from
engage in
enlarge on/upon
enter on/upon
offend against
permit of
pertain to
provide against
set forth

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