100 Commonly Used Business Phrasal Verbs with Examples
1. Aim for – to make it a goal or target.
You need to aim for four more clients this month.
2. Ask around – to ask multiple people to find the answer to something.
Tim, could you please ask around and find out what causing this problem?
3. Back up #1 – To make a copy of something to protect against loss.
Please make sure to back up all your work each day on the company’s server.
4. Back up #2 – To talk about an earlier point in a conversation.
Let’s back up for a minute. You said earlier that the customer couldn’t log in?
5. Bail out – to save from, or pull out of, failure/loss. (most often using money).
In 2008-2009, the US government had to bail out many banks.
Bail out of – to leave quickly when unfinished. (see also: pull out)
We had to bail out of the Sydney deal. We didn’t have the manpower to complete it.
Bank on – to count on something or base plans on expecting it to happen.
The design team at Toyota were banking on the new Escobar line to be a success.
Be snowed under – to have a lot or too much work to do.
I am snowed under this week. Can we do it next week?
Booked out – when all tickets or spaces are already reserved or taken.
Our business event is nearly booked out because of ticket pre-orders.
Branch out – to start something new that is similar and in addition to what you have been doing.
The electric car company, Tesla, is branching out into the motorcycle industry.
Break down – to make something into smaller parts.
We need to break down our sales process to see where we can improve it.
Break into – to enter a new market (with effort).
It’s tough to break into the beauty industry right now.
Bring forward – to move a deadline or agreed time closer to now.
Do you mind if we bring our meeting forward to 3 o’clock?
Bring off – to successfully achieve something that is difficult to do.
Tony promised two times more sales this March. Think he can bring it off?
Bring up – to begin a discussion on a topic.
I would like to bring up the problems we’re facing in our Asian factories.
Burn out – to become sick or exhausted because of working too much.
Jill looks burned out this year. I think the change of job has been tough for her.
Buy out – to buy a large enough portion of a company to take control of it.
Many companies buy out their competitors to increase their market share.
Call back – to phone someone in reply to their (missed) call.
Sarah, could you tell Tom I’ll call him back later? I’m going to a meeting right now.
Call for – to demand or need something.
The shareholders are calling for the CEO’s resignation.
Call off – to cancel.
Sorry John, I’m going to have to call off our business lunch tomorrow.
Carry on – to continue to do something.
Carry on with your lunch. We can discuss it later.
Carry out – to perform an action.
Steve will carry out our social media campaign starting next month.
Cash in on – to use an event or external opportunity in your benefit (normally for money).
Colgate is cashing in on market interest in natural products with a new organic toothpaste.
Cash up – to keep/hold large amounts of money instead of investing or spending it.
Apple is cashed up and ready to buy small tech companies.
Catch on to – to realize something that is happening.
If large media companies don’t catch on to social media quickly, they’ll go out of business.
Catch up – to become up to date with current work to be done.
I need to catch up with some work I haven’t finished.
Chase up – to try and get someone to pay a bill.
Tesla has a whole team of accountants who chase up unpaid invoices.
Chip in – to put something in towards a greater goal (normally ideas, work, or money).
Jerry, could you chip in and help the guys in the factory today?
Close down – to permanently stop a business, or part of a business.
We are closing down our Mexico factory next quarter.
Close up – to temporarily stop or close a business (at the end of each day for example).
Could you help Sarah close up the shop tonight?
Come up –to happen or be created.
Something unplanned has come up and we won’t make our deadline.
Contract out to – to give work to someone outside of the company to do.
We’re going to contract our website design out to an Indian company
Cross sell – to promote or suggest similar products at the time of customers purchase.
Companies like Vista Print and Amazon use cross selling to maximize spending.
Cut out – to get rid of, or take away, something/someone.
If we cut out the middle man we can lower our costs.
Deal with – to handle, work, or interact with, something/someone.
Our company deals with dentists all over the country.
Draw up – to prepare paperwork/contracts/plans/etc. Normally to do with written work.
Let’s talk again after Timothy in our legal department draws up a contract.
Drop in/by – to visit.
Greg from head office is going to drop in
Drop off – to deliver something.
The FedEx guy dropped off something for you this morning, sir.
Drum up – to increase or gain something. Normally business/sales/awareness/customers.
Little bakeries are having a hard time drumming up business after Tesco opened its own in-store bakeries.
Fall short – to not have enough of something. Often money or time.
If a cash register falls short, the cashier has to pay the difference themselves.
Fall through – to not be successful. To fail or lose something.
Google had a deal to sell to Yahoo! ten years ago but it fell through.
File away – to put in organized storage (normally documents, and files)
Remember to file away those invoices after you’re finished with them.
Fill in for – to temporarily replace something or someone.
Can you come into work today? We need someone to fill in for Sam, who’s sick.
Fill out – to complete or put details into a form or survey.
Could you please take the time to fill out our customer survey?
Find out – look for information or to discover something previously unknown.
Tom, please find out what happened to the supplier’s delivery.
Get ahead – to become successful in your career or business.
You have to be tough to get ahead in the finance industry.
Get on – to make improvement or progress.
How did you get on with the marketing plan this week?
Go through – to read, discuss, or examine something, usually paper.
Tom from legal will get back to us after going through the contracts.
Hire out – to allow others to use a resource you own in return for money.
The boss wants to hire out the 3rd floor of our office building to a small business.
Hold off on – to postpone something until a later date.
They will need to hold off on the release of their new phone until they fix the battery.
Hold on – to wait (usually for a small period of time).
Please hold on for a minute until I finish this call.
Hold out – to wait before taking action or remain in the same difficult situation.
Sir, I think we should hold out for a better offer before selling.
Hone in on – to focus on one thing. Or, to focus down in detail.
GoPro has been successful in honing in on the extreme sports market.
Join in on – to take part in an activity.
Let’s get Steve from accounting to join in on this meeting.
Keep up with – to stay up to date. Or to stay at the same level or speed as something else.
Small businesses find it difficult to keep up with technology changes.
Key in – to type something on a computer or keyboard.
We’re looking for a data entry specialist to key in customer’s purchase history.
Knuckle down – to focus on the task or job to be done.
The design team will have to really knuckle down to finish this by Christmas.
Lay off – to fire. To tell to leave the company.
They had to lay off He was stealing paperclips.
Look into – to research to find more information.
Our office keeps losing paperclips. Can you please look into it Stacy?
Look through – to examine or read briefly on the surface
The team had a quick look through your proposal.
Look up to – to respect and admire.
I know you look up to Larry like a father, which makes this hard.
Make up – to compensate for something. (also see: Catch up)
There’s a lot to do today. The office needs to make up for being closed last week.
Measure up – to be at the right level or good enough to do something.
We hired an ex-Apple Marketing Director. I hope he measures up to expectations.
Meet up – to get together.
The department heads are meeting up next week to talk about Larry’s behavior.
note down – to write something quickly to use again later.
Stacy, could you join us and note down the key points to the meeting?
Pencil in – To make flexible plans for something that can still change.
Shall we pencil in next Wednesday at 1 pm for your interview?
Phone up – to call by phone.
Customers have been phoning up with complaints about the new Furby toy.
Pick up – to increase or improve after a period of slow or no results.
Business really has really picked up since the month of June.
Point out – to bring attention to something.
I need to point out that we have not yet decided on new product’s name yet.
Pull out of – to stop doing something. Or, to stop being a part of something.
Many companies are pulling out of their advertising contracts with YouTube.
Put back –to stall or delay something to a later date (also see: Hold off on)
The delivery date will be put back by two days because of the hurricane.
Put off – to know longer feel positive about something.
Many Samsung customers were put off by the Note 7 battery problems.
Report Back – to return to a boss or superior person with new information found.
It’s part of your job to report back any issues you find within the company’s servers.
Rip off – when a product/service is expensive in comparison to its value.
Some say the iPhone 7 is a rip off because little has been changed since the iPhone 6.
Run by / past – to check with someone first.
Shouldn’t we run it by the supervisor, first?
Run late – when you will not be somewhere at the planned time.
He is running a little late this morning because of traffic.
Run out of – to not have any more of an item.
We are about to run out of printing ink, could you order more, please?
Sell off – to sell a part of or a whole business.
Nokia plans to sell off its mobile phone department to Samsung.
Sell out – to have sold all items of something with nothing left.
We always sell out of that perfume brand during this time of year.
Set up – to arrange/create. Or, to start a new business or a new department of a business
Virgin Airways plans to set up offices in Berlin next year.
Shop around – to compare prices and products at different places before buying.
Most large companies constantly shop around for the cheapest materials.
Sign off on – to formally approve of something
You’re going to need the boss to sign off on this order.
Sign up – to agree to receive or to do something.
Many website companies want their site’s visitors to sign up for a newsletter.
Sort out – to fix or solve a problem.
The company had to recall all the phones to sort out the battery problem.
Spell out – to explain in plain and simple terms.
Tech companies need to really spell out their product’s advantages to customers.
Step Down – to give up their position or title.
The CEO of Malaysia Airways stepped down on Tuesday after the news report.
Step up – to try/work harder
Our company needs to step it up if we want to compete with Tesla.
Stock up – to collect or buy a lot of something.
Most restaurants stock up on champagne before New Year’s Eve.
Take off #1 – to become highly successful or popular quickly.
The Harry Potter books took off even faster than the publisher expected.
Take off #2 – to not go to work.
Boss, can I take Tuesday off to visit my friend in the hospital?
Take on – to accept or agree to deal with.
The boss thinks that you’ve taken on too much work and wants me to help you.
Take over – to gain control. Or, to do something someone else was responsible for.
The Financial controller has taken over the accountants duties.
Talk over – to discuss a topic for decision.
Let’s talk it over tomorrow during the Sales meeting.
Team up – to work together with another on something.
Malcolm and John, you two team up to solve this issue.
Trade in – to give something old as part of the price paid for new things.
All customers get $100 off the new S8 when trading in their old S7.
Trade off – to negotiate or make a deal
I had to trade off my paid vacation leave for a smaller workload.
Turn down – to reject or say no.
He turned down my request for a raise
Up sell – to promote a more premium product option or add-ons during the sales process.
McDonald’s up sells at every opportunity. “Want to make it jumbo size for $1?”
Weigh up – to think about both sides of something. Ie cost vs benefit.
A company must weigh up the costs and benefits when changing their pricing.
Work out –to find the solution for something or to calculate something.
The boss wants me to work out the total cost per unit.