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Here are some tables of the items of vocabulary (idioms, phrasal verbs and colloquial language). The vocabulary is everday language familiar to all English-speaking people and useful to anybody planning to visit an English-speaking country or do business with English-speaking people. The tables list all the definitions of each item and include the phrasal verbs ‘to turn into’, ‘to try on’, ‘to make up’ and ‘to get over’. They are also accompanied by exercises.

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A. 1
To pick up
to collect someone, to raise from the ground

e.g. My dad always used to pick me up from school in the evening.
e.g. When I bent down to pick up my pencil, I saw the library card that I had lost a few weeks before lying on the ground next to it.

A. 2
To pick up
to understand and learn something by practice

e.g. Although he lived in Frankfurt for several years, he barely managed to pick up any German at all.

A. 3
To pick up
to acquire, obtain, purchase

e.g. You used to be able to pick up some wonderful bargains in this market, but these days it is often cheaper to go to a regular shop.

A. 4
To pick up
to catch an illness

e.g. My sister picked up a rare tropical illness whilst on holiday last year and was in hospital for several weeks.

A. 5
To pick up
to improve, get better

e.g. I never though my brother would recover from his illness, but he is finally responding well to the medication and at last is picking up quite a bit now..

A. 6
To pick up
to discuss something which has already been mentioned, but in more detail

e.g. Picking up on the point that Karen brought up before the coffee break, does anyone have any ideas about how we can increase sales in the south-west region?

A. 7
To pick up
to arrest

e.g. My cousin Paul has been picked up for speeding so many times that he is going to lose his license.

A. 8
To pick up
to notice, detect – often errors or something wrong

e.g. Although Tony claimed to be happy with his wife, I picked up on the fact that there was something wrong, and it turns out he had been having an affair.

A. 9
To pick up
to correct or criticize someone on matters of minor importance

e.g. Be careful when you work with that client − they are very stingy and will pick you up on every tiny detail given half the chance.

A. 10
To pick up
(slang) to meet someone unknown so as to have a short sexual relationship

e.g. Since he lost so much weight, Josh has tried to pick up women in clubs but with only limited success..

A. 11
To pick up
to be responsible for paying a bill

e.g. Although he is not usually very generous, my father always picks up the bill at family gatherings

A. 12
To pick up
to find a station on the radio

e.g. On the border between two countries, you can often pick up radio stations from both


The other way round
the opposite to what has been said or thought

e.g. My mother told me that it was my father who wanted to move her and her that didn’t want to but he said it was the other way round.


very busy

e.g. When I retire, I want to leave the hectic city life and move to the countryside.


To get away with
to do something wrong and not be punished for it

e.g. My brother used to commit a lot of petty crime but he always got away with it because he is so baby-faced and seems so innocent.


To let (someone) off
not to punish someone who has done something wrong

e.g. The one time my brother was arrested for shoplifting, the judge let him off with a warning because he was only just eighteen.


To go through/hit the roof
to get very angry, to lose one’s temper

e.g. My father hit the roof when he saw the phone bill.


To be off

e.g. “OK then, if there is nothing else to do, I will be off. Have a good weekend!”.


not very good, not to be trusted, doubtful

e.g. It is a bad idea to walk alone late at night in a dodgy part of town.


How come?
why? why not?

e.g. How come your brother is so tall and you are so short?


J. 1.1
To get over
to recover from shock/illness

e.g. It took Tina three months to fully get over the illness she had picked up on holiday.

J. 1.2
To get over
to resolve, overcome a problem, difficulty

e.g. We thought we would never get over the problem, but then Chuck hit the nail on the head.

J. 1.3
To get over
to believe

e.g. I can’t get over how much like his brother Hal looks now he has cut his hair and stopped wearing those dreadful clothes

J. 1.4
To get over
to make oneself understood

e.g. Maura is good at getting her message over and therefore usually prepares most of the company’s presentations.

J. 2
To get something over with/out of the way
to finish a task as soon as possible

e.g. Let’s stay for another two hours tonight so we can get this report out of the way before the long weekend.

J. Crowley

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