Introduction:

Phrasal verbs are very commonly used in business meetings in English. For non-native speakers it is very easy to become confused and misunderstand their meaning, especially if the meeting is with native English speakers.

In this online exercise on phrasal verbs in English, we will look at the essential phrasal verbs that you need to know for business meetings. The focus here is on those phrasal verbs which are used for those both running/chairing and participating in business meetings.

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Exercise: Participating in a meeting

Read the following departmental meeting in a customer services department of a company.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Chair:'Thanks for coming to the meeting today. I'm sorry that we had to put off the meeting until today. It would have been better to have had the meeting last week as was originally planned. As I told you before, the last meeting was postponed because something very urgent came up, which meant that I couldn't attend.

Everybody is here today except Peter Jenkins, who is on holiday. So Roger Wilson is standing in for him today in the meeting. Welcome Roger.

You'll be happy to hear that we don't have a lot to get through today. There's only three items on the agenda. So I'll start by just running through the items on the agenda. The first item is about the recent changes to the customer service telephone project. The second item is about the problems at the Dublin Call Centre. And the last item is an update on the new government legislation.

The meeting is scheduled to last two hours. I'm sure that it won't run over today. I believe that we'll be finished after one and half hours. Before we start talking about the first item, I just want to inform you that this Saturday's company cricket match has been called off. It seems that the weather forecast says that it's going to rain all weekend. So you can relax at home this weekend.

So Jane, do you want to update us on the changes in the customer services telephone project.'

Jane:'Thanks Steve. First of all, the project is still on schedule. We haven't run into any major problems. There was a small issue in testing, about 10% of calls were being lost. I'm pleased to tell you that we identified the problem and this has been sorted out. There has been a development with the automatic customer answering system. The Managing Director told us earlier this week that he didn't like having a northern accent on the answering system and has asked us to change it to a southern accent. So'

Chair:'Sorry Jane, going back to the problem with the lost calls. What was the problem?'

Jane:'Well, it was'

Ian:'Sorry Jane, do you mind if I answer this?'

Jane:'No, go ahead.'

Ian:'There was a simple problem with the routing of the calls, which just required a reconfiguration. It won't cause any more problems.'

Chair:'Ok. So Jane, about the accent, go on.'

Jane:'As I was saying, we have to change the accent. We've already hired someone to re-record the messages in a southern accent.

The last change is about me. I'm leaving the project on the 12th of May to start another project with the finance department. So, my colleague Tim Berridge will be taking over the role of Project Manager for the project on that date.'

Chair:'Sorry to hear that you're leaving us. I just need to take down the date when you're leaving the project. I forget things if I haven't written them down. So you're leaving the project on the 12th of May?'

Jane:'Yes.'

Simon:'Although it's not connected, do you mind if I bring up an issue there is with the misuse of the internet by staff, which I'd liked to discuss with you all?'

Chair:'Simon, you'll have an opportunity to talk about this later, but there are other issues that we need to talk about first.'



Quiz: Essential English phrasal verbs used in business meetings

Below is a definition or description of each of the phrasal verbs in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these phrasal verbs in bold. Only use one phrasal verb once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A phrasal verb that gives somebody permission to talk, is    

         

Go ahead:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to go ahead'. It's a phrasal verb with different uses. In this context it is used after somebody has asked to say or do something, e.g. 'Can I watch the TV?'. This phrasal verb gives the person who has asked the question, the permission to say or do something. It's like saying 'yes' or 'of course'. This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "continuar/seguir".

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Go ahead:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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2. A phrasal verb that means something is cancelled, is    

         

Called off:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to call something off'. It's a phrasal verb with different uses. In this context it is used to mean that an event has been cancelled. It can be used for meetings, meals, sporting events etc..., e.g. 'Because of the big fire, the fireman had to call off their meeting'. This is a Type 3 Phrasal Verb (transitive and separable with one particle). In Spanish: "cancelar".

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Called off:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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3. A phrasal verb that means to write some information or details, is   

         

Take down:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to take something down'. It's a phrasal verb with many different uses. In this context it means to write some information or details. It has the same meaning as 'to write down'. It is commonly used in English. This is a Type 3 Phrasal Verb (transitive and separable with one particle), e.g. 'I need to take down some details. First, what is your name?' In Spanish: "apuntar".

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Take down:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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4. A phrasal verb which asks someone to continue talking about something, is    

         

Go on:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to go on'. It's a phrasal verb with different uses. In this context it is used to ask someone who has stopped talking about a subject (normally because they were interrupted) to continue with what they were saying, e.g. 'sorry for the interruption, please go on'. This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "seguir/continuar".

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Go on:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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5. A phrasal verb that means to complete a quantity of work/topics/questions, is    

         

Get through:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to get through'. It's a phrasal verb with different uses. In this context it is used to mean things that you have to 'complete' or 'finish', e.g. 'we still have a lot of interviews to get through before we are finished'. It is commonly used with work, questions, interviews, paperwork etc... This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "terminar/para hacer".

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Get through:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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6. A phrasal verb that means someone new will become responsible for a task or project, is    

         

Taking over:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to take something over'. It's a phrasal verb with many different uses. In this context it means that somebody is replacing or substituting another person to become responsible for a task, function, project, company, team etc... This is a Type 3 Phrasal Verb (transitive and separable with one particle). It is followed by 'from' when you want to say who had the responsibility before, e.g. 'He's taking it over from Claire'. In Spanish: "asumir".

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Taking over:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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7. A phrasal verb that is used to ask about or refer to something said before, is    

         

Going back to:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to go back to something'. In this context it used to ask about or refer to a previous topic, point or subject that was talked about in the recent past, i.e. '5 minutes before or even an hour before'. It is often used when somebody has a question about it. It is normally said as 'going back to', e.g. 'going back to what you said before about the cost. How much will it be? This is a Type 4 Phrasal Verb (transitive and inseparable with two particles). In Spanish: "volver a".

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Going back to:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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8. A phrasal verb that means to postpone something, is    

         

Put off:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to put something off'. It is a phrasal verb with many different uses. In this context it means to postpone doing something (like a holiday, meeting, appointment etc...) until a later date. This is a Type 3 Phrasal Verb (transitive and separable with one particle), e.g. 'they've put the meeting off until next Friday'. In Spanish: "posponer/aplazar".

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Put off:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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9. A phrasal verb that is used when you want a topic/subject to be discussed in a meeting, is    

         

Bring up:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to bring something up'. It has different meanings. In this context it is used when you want to introduce a subject to be discussed or considered by a group of people. This is often asked as a question in meetings, as a request to talk about something, e.g. 'can I just bring the testing of equipment up now?' This is a Type 3 Phrasal Verb (transitive and separable with one particle). In Spanish: "abordar".

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Bring up:

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10. A phrasal verb that means that something important unexpectedly happened, is    

         

Came up:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to come up'. It is a phrasal verb with different uses. In this context it means that something important or serious has unexpectedly happened. It is often used as a reason to explain why you can't attend or do something, e.g. 'I'm sorry, something important has just come up and I can't come today'. This tells the other person that you have to focus your time on this important thing. This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "surgir".

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Came up:

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11. A phrasal verb that means to quickly talk about a plan or agenda, is    

         

Running through:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to run through something'. In this context it means to briefly and quickly talk about the main points of a plan, decision, agenda etc... It has the same meaning as 'to quickly go through', e.g. 'I'm going to run through the decisions that we have agreed in today's meeting'. This is a Type 2 Phrasal Verb (transitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "repasar".

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Running through:

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12. A phrasal verb that means something finishes later than expected, is    

         

Run over:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to run over'. It is a phrasal verb with many different uses. In this context it means that something finishes later than it was planned to do. It is commonly used for meetings, speeches, presentations and interviews. This phrasal verb is followed by the preposition 'by' when you say by how much, e.g. 'the interview ran over by ten minutes'. This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle). In Spanish: "sobrepasar tiempo ".

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Run over:

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13. A phrasal verb that means that someone temporarily takes the place and responsibility of a person who can't attend a meeting, is

         

Standing in:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to stand in'.This is used when someone takes the place and responsibility in a meeting or event of another person that has been invited, but for some reason can't attend. Normally, the person 'standing in' is from the same company or department. This is a Type 1 Phrasal Verb (intransitive and inseparable with one particle) and it is normally followed by "for" + the person who they are replacing, e.g. 'He stood in for Richard at the conference'. In Spanish: "sustituir".

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Standing in:

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Practice

Now that you understand the use and meaning of these phrasal verbs, practise them by creating your own sentences in English.