In this video you’ll learn 12 useful English phrasal verbs. You’ll hear them all in lots of contexts, but they’re particularly useful for business English conversations.
Here are the verbs:
turn someone down
take on
snowed under
hand over
take over
back out
fill someone in
run something by/past someone
zero in on
figure something out
push back on
spell out

Click here to learn some phrasal verbs we use to talk about computers and technology
Click here to learn some common separable phrasal verbs
Click here to learn some three word phrasal verbs

We have 11 useful phrasal verbs for you.
They’re verbs you’ll hear in lots of different situations, but they’re particularly useful for business.
So if you’re learning English for your job or career, this is a video you need to watch.
These phrasal verbs are all frequent in English conversation.
Particularly business conversations, so let’s jump straight in and see them in action.

Business English Phrasal Verbs

This project’s awful, Craig. I hate it. The director and the client want different things and I can’t satisfy them both.
Can’t you get someone else to do it?
I’ve asked lots of people but they’ve all turned me down.
Nobody wants to take it on because it’s so difficult.
Yeah, exactly! But there is one person. You’ve given me an idea. Thanks. Bye.
Hey! How’s it going?
Not bad. Actually I’ve written the script for a television commercial.
Oh, wow!
I’m working with a director from the BBC.
That’s amazing.
I’m supposed to meet the actors next week.
Oh I’d love to work with actors.
Yeah. My problem is I’m snowed under at the moment. I should really hand the project over to someone else.
Could I do it?
Well, I’d have to ask Kathy and if I can. I don’t know if she’ll let me back out of it.
Oh please ask her! Tell her I can take over.
But it’s such a fun project.
Oh let me do it!
OK. I’ll go and ask Kathy if you can take over from me.
Thank you so much.

I don’t think I should trust you.
You’re right. But let’s go through the phrasal verbs.

turn someone down

The first one you heard was turn someone down.
I’ve asked Tom and Dick and Harry to do it, and they all turned me down.
If you make a request and someone says no, they turn you down.
We can also turn down offers, and again it means reject them.

take on

OK, next verb: take on.
Nobody wants to take the project on because it’s so difficult.
Here take on means to accept extra work or extra responsibility.
I’d love to take on a new project. Especially a television commercial.

snowed under

Now if you take on too much work, you might get snowed under. That’s the next verb.
Vicki would love to work on this project. The problem is she’s snowed under at the moment.
If you’re snowed under, you have more things to do than you can manage. We use this verb to talk about too much work.

hand something over to someone

And if we’re snowed under, we might ‘hand a project over’ to someone else – give it away.
Perhaps I can hand the project over to Jay. That would solve my problem.
When you ‘hand over’ a project, you give someone else your power and responsibility.
I don’t know if I want to give you my power and responsibility.
Hand it over to me!

back out

OK. Next verb, back out.
I don’t know if I can back out of the project because I said I’d do it.
When we back out we decide NOT to do something that we earlier agreed to do.
So it’s when we promised to do something, but then we decide not to do it.

take over from somebody

And the last verb you heard: take over from somebody.
OK. I’ll go and ask Kathy if you can take over from me.
Thank you!
When someone takes over, they begin to take control from someone else.
We also talk about business takeovers, when one company buys the shares of another. And that’s about taking control as well.
If Kathy says yes, Jay can take over from me and become the project manager. That would be great!
OK, I think it’s time for the second part of this story now.
I have a BAD feeling about this.
You don’t trust me.
No, I don’t.
You’re very wise. Let’s see what happens.

What did Kathy say?
She said… Yes! Congratulations. You’re now the official project manager.
Oh that’s great. Thank you so much.
You’re welcome. So let me fill you in. The files are all on the network, and here’s the first draft of the script.
I ran it by the client and the director and here’s their feedback.
Did they like it?
Yes. They have a few suggestions, of course, so you’ll need to make some changes.
No problem.
The client wants the script to be longer and they want you to zero in on the product specifications.
And the director wants some cuts. She’d like the script to be shorter.
So longer but shorter?
I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Anything else?
Yes, the director pushed back on the idea of product specs. She wants you to cut them and add some humour.
So add some jokes? That could be fun.
But not too many because the client wants it to be more serious.
I don’t understand.
Just read their feedback. They’ve spelled out what they want. Now I need to get going.
Wait a minute. What’s the schedule?
Oh there’s no rush. You can take your time. But Kathy wants the new script on her desk in half an hour.

fill someone in

I was right. That didn’t go well for me!
True. When did you start to suspect there was a problem?
As soon as you started to fill me in.
And that was the first verb.
Let me fill you in on what’s happened so far.
When we fill someone in on something we bring them up to date. We tell them about recent events and what’s been happening.
For example, if someone’s been away on holiday, we might have to fill them in on what’s been happening when they get back.

run something by/past someone

The next verb was run by. We can run things by people or past people. It means the same thing.
It’s when we tell them about a plan so they can give their opinion.
I ran the script past the client and the director in order to get their feedback.

zero in on

And their feedback was very different. They wanted completely different things.
Yes. The client wanted to zero in on the product specifications but the director didn’t.
Zero in on is the next phrasal verb.
The director wants you to cut the product specifications, but the client wants you to zero in on them.
If we zero in on something we focus on it and fix all our attention on it.
And that wasn’t your only problem.

figure something out

The client wants the script to be longer but the director wants it to be shorter.
I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Figure out. If there’s a problem, we have to think and find an answer. We have to figure it out.
I don’t think anyone can figure out a solution to this problem though.

push back on

Yeah, it’s probably impossible! OK, next verb, push back on.
If someone doesn’t like an idea or a plan, they might push back on it. It means they resist it and don’t accept it.
The director pushed back on the idea of product specifications.
We use this verb in British English too, but it’s more common in American English.
You can use pushback as a noun as well, to talk about resistance to an idea or plan.

spell something out

And the last verb you heard is spell something out.
Just read their feedback. They’ve spelled everything out for you there.
When we spell something out, we explain it in detail.
So it’s very simple, clear, and easy to understand.
Except I don’t think their feedback’s going to be easy to understand. Or easy to put into action.
But we hope all the phrasal verbs will now be easy to understand.
And that you never have to take on projects where your clients want different things.
We have lots more videos on phrasal verbs
I’ll put some links at the end and if you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and make sure you’re subscribed to our channel.



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