Verbal Idioms

26 Sep

A verbal idiom is a group of words, containing a verb, that has a meaning different from the meaning of any individual word within it.  The following list of two- and three-word verbal idioms should be learned.  Because they are idiomatic, you are less likely to find them in the grammar section in any books.

BREAK OFF: end.  As a result of the recent, unprovoked attach, the two countries broke off their diplomatic relations.

BRING UP: raise, initiate.  The county commissioner brought up the heated issue of restricting on-street parking.

CALL ON: (a) ask.  The teacher called on James to write the equation on the blackboard.  (b) visit.  The new minister called on each of the families of his church in order to become better acquainted with them.

CARE FOR: (a) like.  Because Marita doesn’t care for  dark color, she buys only brightly colored clothes.  (b) look after.  My neighbours asked me to care for  their children after school.

CHECK OUT: (a) borrow books, etc. from a library.  I went to the library and checked out thirty books last night for my research paper. (b) investigate.  This photocopy machine is not working properly.  Could you check out the problem? (c) leave. We were told that we had to check out of the hotel before one o’clock, or else we would have to pay for another day.

CHECK (UP) ON: investigate. The insurance company decided to check up on  his driving record before insuring him.

CLOSE IN ON: draw nearer, approach.  In his hallucinatory state, the addict felt that the walls were closing in on him.

COME ALONG WITH: accompany.  June came along with her supervisor to the budget meeting.

COME DOWN WITH: become ill with. During the summer, many people come down with intestinal disorders.

COUNT ON: depend on, rely on.  Maria was counting on the grant money to pay her way through graduate school.

DO AWAY WITH. eliminate, get rid of. Because of the increasing number of problems created after the football games, the director has decided to do away with all sports activities.

DRAW UP: write, draft (such as plans or contracts).  A new advertising contract was drawn up after the terms had been decided.

DROP OUT OF: quit, withdraw from.  This organization has done a great deal to prevent young people from dropping out of school.

FIGURE OUT: solve, decipher, interpret, understand. After failing to figure out his income tax return, Hal decided to see an accountant.

NOTE: I am sure you will find new words from the above mentioned Verbal Idioms

that will enrich your vocabulary.

h  a  v  e     f  u  n


Source: CLIPPS NOTES (by Michael A.Pyle, M.A. and Mary Ellen Munoq, M.A./Series Editor: Jerry Bobrow, Ph.D.)

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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in English Lessons & Exercises


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