7 Common Phrasal Verbs to Express Your Emotions

This list of English phrasal verbs will boost your vocabulary and help you sound more natural when speaking in English.


Are phrasal verbs a part of your English practice routine?

They absolutely need to be.

If you’re not taking the time to learn and practice phrasal verbs regularly, you’ll find it really difficult to understand spoken English.

Phrasal verbs are so important because we use them all the time.

And there are times when a phrasal verb is simply the most natural-sounding way of expressing an idea. Even when phrasal verbs have one-word synonyms, these synonyms are often too formal for normal conversations.

So do you see how not learning phrasal verbs can block your progress?

You might be avoiding phrasal verbs because there are so many of them which makes them difficult to master.

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

You can learn phrasal verbs and you can lose your fear of using them.

All you need to do is include them in your English practice routine, and naturally, after some time, you’ll start using them with confidence.

Keep in mind that studying a huge list of phrasal verbs doesn’t work. You’ll get frustrated, and you’ll give up.

So I suggest choosing a few phrasal verbs (4 to 7) and practicing them regularly until you understand them well.

Also, make sure that you group them in a way that makes sense to you. For example, in this post, we’ll be looking at 7 phrasal verbs that we commonly use to describe how we feel.

When you finish reading this post, take the time to make a few examples with these phrasal verbs that are true for you. Connecting new words to emotions or real situations in your life is a very powerful technique. You’re more likely to remember things that you can relate to, things that create an emotional reaction in you. So when you practice, try your best to use sentences describing situations that have actually happened to you.

Now, let’s get started! In this post, I’m going to show you how to use 7 common phrasal verbs to describe emotions.


1. Crack Up

[cracks up; cracked up; cracked up; cracking up]

(informal) If you crack up, or if something or someone cracks you up, you laugh suddenly and a lot. So we can say,

  • “She cracked up when I told her what happened.”
  • “It just cracks me up what some people say.”


Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb.
Crack up → “Everyone in the class cracked up.”
Crack someone up → “He’s so funny. He cracks me up.”


Common Collocations

We often use this phrasal verb with ‘laughing’. For example,
“We all just cracked up laughing.”

2. Stir Up

[stirs up; stirred up; stirred up; stirring up]

When you make someone feel an emotion (often a bad one), you stir it up. For example,

  • “These kinds of questions stir up anxiety.”
  • “The pictures stirred up a lot of memories.”

Synonyms

Arouse, provoke, incite

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb.
Stir up something“Talking about this stirs up a lot of emotions.”
Stir something up → “Talking about this stirs a lot of emotions up.”

Common Collocations

We often use this phrasal verb with these words: animosity, controversy, feelings, emotions, trouble, resentment.

3. Light Up

[lights up; lit up; lit up; lighting up]

When someone’s eyes or face light up, they suddenly look happy or excited. So we can say,

  • “Her face lit up when she saw us coming.”
  • “His eyes light up whenever he sees me.”


Synonyms

Brighten


Grammar Points

We cannot separate this phrasal verb.
Light up → “Her face lights up when she talks about home.”
Light up with“His face lit up with delight because of you.”

4. Tear Up

[tears up; teared up; teared up; tearing up]

If you tear up, you start to have tears in your eyes because you’re sad or happy. For example,

  • “He started to tear up when he said goodbye to us.”
  • “I teared up when I read her message.”


Grammar Points

We cannot separate this phrasal verb.
Tear up → “He tears up whenever he talks about what happened.”

5. Freak out

[freaks out; freaked out; freaked out; freaking out]

(informal) If you freak out, or if something or someone freaks you out, you feel so angry, scared, or surprised that you can’t control yourself. So we can say,

  • “He freaked out when he saw the spider.”
  • “I freaked out when I realized that I was late for work.”

Synonyms

Anger, agitate, worry, excite, trip out, flip out

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb.
Freak out → “They freaked out when they saw the police.”
Freak someone out → “Meeting his parents freaked his Maria out.”
Freak out on someone → “She freaked out on him.”

5. Take Out On

[takes out on; took out on; taken out on; taking out on]

When you take it out on someone, you treat them badly because you feel tired, upset or angry even though it’s not their fault. For example,

  • “When she’s stressed out, she always takes it out on me.”
  • “I’m sorry I took it out on you.”

Synonym

Vent

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb.
Take something out on someone → “Don’t take your anger out on me.”
We often use this phrasal verb with it → “Don’t take it out on me.”

7. Tell off

[tells off; told off; told off; telling off]

(informal) If you tell someone off, you speak to them angrily for doing something wrong. So we can say,

  • “If she does it again, he’s going to tell her off.”
  • “I was so mad at him that I told him off.”

Synonym

Reprimand

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb.
Tell someone off → “I told Maria off.”
Tell someone off for doing something “I told them off for lying to me.”
‘Tell off’ is often used in the passive form.
be/get told off → “I got told off for driving carelessly.”

So how many of these phrasal verbs did you already know? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you! And if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.
June 12, 2019
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Sama Alkhalili

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Hi, I’m Sama and my goal is to help you improve your English speaking and fluency. I'm a Canadian English teacher with a passion for travel and learning. I've taught in Italy, Spain and now in Canada where I work one-on-one with students all over the world, sharing techniques and strategies to improve their spoken English. In my lessons, I use fun and interactive methods to teach you everyday English, which is different from written or formal English. My lessons are designed to boost your confidence when speaking English, so you can have easy conversations with people you meet at work, while traveling or in your daily life. The confidence that you want when speaking in English is possible and I'll show you how! Book your trial lesson today to find out more about my method and the different ways I can help you.
Flag
English
globe
Canada
time
195
Speaks:
English
Native
,
Spanish
A2
,
Italian
A2
Hi, I’m Sama and my goal is to help you improve your English speaking and fluency. I'm a Canadian English teacher with a passion for travel and learning. I've taught in Italy, Spain and now in Canada where I work one-on-one with students all over the world, sharing techniques and strategies to improve their spoken English. In my lessons, I use fun and interactive methods to teach you everyday English, which is different from written or formal English. My lessons are designed to boost your confidence when speaking English, so you can have easy conversations with people you meet at work, while traveling or in your daily life. The confidence that you want when speaking in English is possible and I'll show you how! Book your trial lesson today to find out more about my method and the different ways I can help you.