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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 take up’, ‘to make fun of’, ‘to get by’ and ‘to run over’. They are also accompanied by exercises.

 

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A. 1
To take up
to start a hobby, sport etc

 

e.g. My father took up golf when he retired.

 

A. 2
To take up
to become a resident

 

e.g. My auntie took up residence in France ten years ago and now she is very settled there.

 

A. 3
To take up
to occupy space or time

 

e.g. The wardrobe takes up most of the space in the room.

 

A. 4
To take up
to consult, discuss a problem with a person concerned with the matter

 

e.g. If the town hall refuse to take this matter seriously, I will take it up with the national government!.

 

A. 5
To take up
to accept an offer or invitation

 

e.g. We took my brother up on his offer to let us stay at his house in the mountains.

 

 
 

B.
To make fun of
to laugh at someone

 

e.g. When Henry got braces on his teeth, the other children made fun of him for it..

 

 
 

C. 1
Row, to row
an argument, to argue

 

e.g. Although they are always rowing, it is obvious that Seán and Sarah really love each other.

 

C. 2
Row
a horizontal line of chairs

 

e.g. There are five rows of chairs set up in the room for the exam tomorrow.

 

 
 

D.
To get by
to survive on a small amount of something

 

e.g. I know enough French to get by, but I barely know any German at all..

 

 
 

E.
To call it a day
to finish a day’s work, meeting etc.

 

e.g. Let’s call it a day and come back in early tomorrow to finish the project with fresh eyes..

 

 
 

F. 1
To run over
to go over

 

e.g. I ran over the report again last night before the presentation but I failed to spot anything I had missed the first time.

 

F. 2
To run over
to hit or pass over (a person) with a motor vehicle

 

e.g. My dog Scottie was run over when I was eleven and I cried for a week.

 

 
 

G.
Cross
angry

 

e.g. My mother was cross with me when I quit university to become a fitness trainer but she is proud now I am coaching athletes for the Olympics!

 

 
 

H. 1.1
Odd
strange

 

e.g. It is odd that Maria’s brother Simon is so shy when she is such a chatterbox.

 

H. 1.2
Odd
the opposite of even numbers

 

e.g. We have lived in three different houses on this street — always on the odd-numbered side.

 

H. 1.3
Odd
occasional

 

e.g. I am semi-retired now, but I still do the odd job if something comes up that catches my fancy.

 

H. 1.4
Odd
various, different kinds

 

e.g. I tried to organise the library but there are a few odd books that did not fit into any of the subject areas so I put them all together in their own section..

 

H. 1.5
Odd
not a matching pair

 

e.g. «Try not to wear odd socks when you go to the interview for your new job, dear!» Seán’s mother said to him.

 

H. 1.6
Odd
approximately

 

e.g. There were thirty-odd people at the party, but it seemed like a lot fewer because the room was so huge.

 

 

H. 2.1
Odds
chances of winning/success

 

e.g. The odds of Brian passing the exam are very slim.

 

H. 2.1
Odds
contrary to expectation

 

e.g. Against the odds, Paul Todd has won the Oscar for Best Director this year.

 

 
 

I.
To rule out
to deny the possibility of of something bad happening

 

e.g. Police have ruled out the possibililty that the killer is still in hiding in the village and are searching for him or her in the surrounding area.

 

 
 

J. 1
To turn to
to ask, be dependent on someone for help when one is in a desperate situation, to become dependent on something − e.g. drugs, alcohol, etc.

 

e.g. Karen turned to her brother when she was in trouble and needed help badly.
Tom turned to alcohol when his marriage ended badly.
.

 

J. 2
To turn to
to deal with/consider a new matter, subject in a formal discussion or speech

 

e.g. Let’s now turn to the matter of the charity auction: any volunteers?.

 
 

 
 

A.
Fun
a good time, enjoyable

 

e.g. We had a lot of fun on our holidays but now it is time to get back to work.

 

 
 

B. 1
Funny
amusing, humorous

 

e.g. I just read a very funny book: I almost fell out of my chair laughing while I was reading it..

 

B. 2
Funny
strange, unusual

 

e.g. It is funny that John is not here today: he always comes to the café on Wednesdays.

 

 
 

C. 1
To get through
to manage to speak to someone on the telephone

 

e.g. I tried three times, but could not manage to get through to the mayor’s office.

 

C. 2
To get through
to succeed in making someone understand

 

e.g. I have never been able to get it through to Peter that you need to study hard in order to get a good job in this world.

 
 

C. 3
To get through
to manage to survive a difficult period of time, to complete a lot of work

 

e.g. Last year was very difficult for Sarah and John, as they had a new baby and a new business to run at the same time; but in the end, they got through it all.

 

C. 4
To get through
to pass an exam, to win a round in a competition

 

e.g. I am happy that my team has got through to the next stage in the competition, but I doubt they will get very much further..

 

C. 5
To get through
to consume, spend (food, clothes etc.)

 

e.g. «We seem to get through more and more food every month. Where do the kids put it all?»

 

C. 6
To get through
o be approved officially

 

e.g. The bill has got through the House of Commons, but still needs to be approved by the House of Lords.

 

 
 

D. 1
To get hold of
to be able to contact someone

 

e.g. When I finally got hold of my brother, I found out that he was the one who had had my watch all along..

 

D. 2
To get hold of
to manage to obtain something

 

e.g. It is more difficult to get hold of certain medicines in developing countries than it is in the developed world.

 
 

D. 3
To get hold of
to come to a certain conclusion

 

e.g. When I found out that he thought that human blood was blue and not red in colour, I asked him where on earth he had got hold of that idea.

 

 
 

E.
Daunting, to be daunted
a frightening or worrying though, to be frightened by

 

e.g. Jim has always been a daunting presence, but recently he is almost impossible to be around as he has taken to bullying and belittling everyone who crosses his path..

F. 1
To look up
to search for a word, or other information in a book or online

 

e.g. We were all trying to think of a word, and it was on tip of all our tongues, but in the end we still had to look it up.

 

F. 2
To look up
to respect, admire someone

 

e.g. When I was young, I always used to look up to my older brother; however, now I am grown up I realise that he is a liar, a gambler and a scoundrel.

 

 
 

G.
No wonder
it isn’t surprising that

 

e.g. No wonder you are always tired, if you go to sleep at 3.00 am every night!

 

 
 

H.
To dread
to fear

 

e.g. John spends all his time eating junk food and playing video games; I dread to think what he will be like when he gets older if he continues this unhealthy lifestyle.

 

 
 

I. 1
Flop, to flop
a failure, to fail

 

e.g. My cousin Brendan, who is an actor, was in a high-budget film last year that turned out to be a flop at the box office.

 

I. 2
Flop, to flop
to fall heavily onto/into something

 

e.g. When John got home after work, he flopped onto the sofa and watched TV for an hour before calling his girlfriend Denise

 

 
 

J. 1
To drop off
to stop in order to let someone out of a car

 

e.g. My dad always used to drop me off at school on his way to work..

 

J. 2
To drop off
to fall asleep

 

e.g. I dropped off in front of the TV last night and when I woke up it was already 4:00 am..

 

J. 3
To drop off
to decrease in demand, decline

 

e.g. Demand for portable CD players has dropped off since the introduction of MP3 players and smartphones..

 

 

J. Crowley


 

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