Advanced English Grammar



Phrasal Verb BE


The phrasal verb be is probably the most popular phrasal verb in the English language. There are about 40 combinations all together (give or take a few) and definitions can and do change even with the same preposition.

For example, you can 'be with' someone in a variety of ways. To 'be with' someone can mean to be involved romantically. It can also mean to be physically present with someone but not involved romantically and it also means to help, or serve, someone like a shop assistant would do, etc.

The above illustrates some of the difficulties phrasal verbs can cause learners of the English language.

This page is here to help you study the definitions and then learn to use them in sentences of your own. After all, phrasal verbs are an important part of the English language and especially the phrasal verb be.

After the list there is an exercise where you can check your understanding.

BE AFTER = try to find, or get

What are you after in that closet? There's nothing in there.

BE ALONG = arrive

They said they'd be along after supper sometime.

BE AWAY = be somewhere else, on holiday, etc.

The Johnson's were away all last week to Mexico.

BE CUT OUT FOR = suitable, qualified and possessing right qualities

He's just not cut out for boxing. He's slow and he really can't take a punch.

BE DOWN = A. depressed B. reduced price

After their teams loss, many of the players were really down.
My wife got these because they were down 50 percent.

BE DOWN WITH = ill, sick

I was down with a cold last week and couldn't finish the report.

BE FED UP = sick of, or upset about, sth

I am fed up with having to work Saturday mornings.

BE IN = A. at home or work B. Submitted

I was in the office yesterday until 9:30 pm.
The teacher reminded us that the book reports needed to be in by Friday.

BE IN ON = involved, participate

Steve was in on the joke even though he thought it was cruel.

BE NOT ON = unacceptable behavior or quality

Making fun of the homeless is not on to say the least.

BE OFF = A. spoiled food B. leave or depart

That lamb was off so I threw it out.
They were off right after breakfast, they didn't want to be late for school.

BE ON = A. functioning, working B. Take place C. Take medication or drugs

A. "The computer is on already. Don't touch that button."
B. It is on the Friday after Christmas
C. "Are you on any medication?" the doctor asked the patient.

BE ON ABOUT = say without others really listening

"What was she on about?" "I don't know I couldn't really hear her."


Phrasal Verb BE exercise

1. "Why did you quit your job?" "I am not ___ working such long hours."
2. John swore that he wasn't ____ the robbery, but I don't believe him.
3. I am so _____ with this government. I can't wait for new elections.
4. Jill gets ____ every lunch hour to do yoga exercises.
5. The computer was ____ all night. I needed to do a complete scan.
6. My was ____ flu last week but she's better now.
7. John was ____ after supper but he didn't say what he wanted you for.
8. Sales are ____ over 30% from last Christmas.
9. I called to see if you were ____ but your secretary said that you were out.
10. "This meat is really ___, throw it out as soon as you can."
11. "What are you ___ in the basement? There's nothing down there."
12. We are ____ to Disney World next week. I can't wait.
 Your score is  

For more information about the phrasal verb be click on the preceding link.