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Archive Language Point 129

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Phrasal Verbs - in and on

Khalid, Alice and Kitty in the kitchen with a box of chocolates
Phrasal verbs, or multi-word verbs, are verbs that are combined with one or two particles (a preposition or adverb), for example, 'in' or 'out', to make verbs with new meanings. These new meanings are usually non-literal. For example, to chime means to ring (the bells chimed at 8 o'clock) but to chime in means to interrupt someone while s/he is speaking (And then he chimed in that he didn't want to go).

However, the particles 'in' and 'on' are sometimes literal; there is often a connection with the physical meanings of these words.

Phrasal verbs - in

Dig in: Start eating something
Alice said 'Dig in!' when she wanted Khalid to have a chocolate.
Dinner's ready. Everyone dig in!

Put something in / Put in something: Fix or install a large piece of equipment or system into a room or building so that it's ready to be used
They've put new windows in and painted the outside of their house.
The builders put new central heating in and our flat is so much warmer now.

Fill something in / Fill in something: Complete a document by writing in the necessary information
We had to fill in a lot of forms to get a loan from the bank.
You need to fill this form in before you can get a refund.

Call in: Visit someone or somewhere for a short time
Don't forget to call in the next time you're in the area.
We called in to see my aunt when we went to Manchester last month.

Call someone in / Call in someone: Ask someone to come to help in a difficult situation
They called in a new marketing team when they realised their advertising campaign wasn't working.
The had to call in the detectives to help with the murder inquiry.

Sink in: Start to believe what someone has said (usually something strange, unpleasant or surprising)
When she said she wanted to divorce him, it didn't really sink in at first.
It just hasn't sunk in yet that I won the competition. I don't believe it!

Push in: Rudely join a queue of people, by moving in front of some of the people who are already there:
We were in the cinema queue when this guy came along and pushed in right in front of us.
No pushing in! Just wait in line like everyone else please.

Phrasal verbs - on

Try on: Put clothes on for a short time to see they fit you
I bought this skirt without trying it on. I hope it's OK.
I'd like to try these shoes on please, in a size 7 if you've got them.

Put something on / Put on something: Make or give something, especially for other people's benefit or for a special purpose
They put on a wonderful lunch for us.
We put on a great end of year show for the teachers.

'On' can also be used to talk about dependence:

Count / Depend on someone: Rely on someone
You can always count on her to help you if you have any problems.
I'll be there for you. You know you can depend on me.

'On' can also be used to talk about something continuing:

Pass something on / Pass on something: Give something to someone (usually after you have finished using it)
Will you pass that book on to her when you've finished reading it?
Their mother passes their old toys on to a charity when they've stopped playing with them.


(informal) difficult

a health nut
someone who is very enthusiastic about a particular activity or thing (here, about healthy food, exercising and keeping fit)

used to describe food that you have to chew a lot before you swallow

what a dentist uses to fill a cavity (or hole) in your tooth

(informal) short for chocolates


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