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​13 Phrasal Verb Take Examples

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​Today the English podcast is about the phrasal verbs with the word “take” in them. Phrasal verbs are an area of English language learning that is difficult because it often uses the same words in a sentence but the meaning implied is different based on the context of the sentence.

That’s right! For example, the phrasal verb “Take off” can be this “The crowd was waiting for the rocket to take off” and in the next sentence “Children, take off your shoes”. A business can “Take off” i.e. become successful and a person can “take off” their shoes before walking on the carpet. Same word’s, yet a different meaning based on the context of the sentence.

Oh, why did they make English so complicated! We have no idea! However, listening to this podcast and the examples and meaning provided will help you tackle phrasal verbs with the word “Take” in them.


​Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is the Monday podcast – so it’s a bit longer than our Thursday podcast, but still with the same purpose, the aim of helping you improve your spoken English language.

Now it’s been a while since we tackled some grammar, so shall we have a go? Let’s do a quiz first. You can test yourself. How many of these phrasal verbs do you know the meaning of? I’ll read them out.

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​A list of phrasal verbs that use take

​To take after
to take apart
to take away
to take back
to take down
to take for
to take home
to take in
to take off
to take on
to take over
to take to
to take up

So they’re all the verb ‘to take’ that I’m sure you already know, but all of these have different meanings or in some cases even have several different meanings. So, before you say ‘Aaahhh, grammar!’ Or ‘Aaahhh phrasal verbs – I don’t know what that means!’, let me explain why you need them. If you’ve listened to any spoken English, these verbs will probably have confused you. We use them all the time, especially in spoken English, much more so than in written English. And English speakers all know what these verbs mean automatically. Everybody knows their meanings – and we use them all the time. Any English speaker would go through the list above and be able to say what each meaning was. To some extent, we’re a bit lazy – we use these short words when we’re speaking, but if we’re writing, we would use the longer and more formal word instead. So if you’re learning English conversation, it’s really important that you know these phrasal verbs, these expressions. But they are confusing –  they’re made up of little common  words, but their meanings aren’t obvious.

So phrasal verbs just means verbs which have additional words, which form a phrase, which have a specific meaning. So some more examples of phrasal verbs might be:-

to come off, to come up with, to come over
to make up, to make off, to make over
to get down, to get off, to get over, to get away
to look over, to look down on, to look up etc.​

So there are lots of these in English and they’re confusing, because they don’t let you know what they mean – you have to hear them in context as well.  Another way of finding them. If you look at an English dictionary – and I’m talking here about a fat dictionary, one with lots of words, not a little thin dictionary. If you look up each of the common verbs, there’s usually a great long list of different phrasal verbs and what they mean.

So let’s talk through the meanings of some of the examples I gave you in the quiz. So these ones are using the verb ‘to take’. Then you can test yourself by listening to the podcast again and see if you can remember them! Notice that what makes this a bit more difficult is that the verb and the preposition don’t always appear together in the sentence! So let’s go through them.

To take after – if you take after someone that usually means that you either look like them or you behave like them. Usually it’s someone in your family, who’s older than you. So you might say ‘Oh, my son? He takes after me because he’s very musical’. Or you might say ‘She takes after her mother, she’s got blonde hair’. So ‘to take after’ can mean either in your appearance, what you look like  – or it could mean in your character, in the way that you are. So you might behave like the person. So that’s ‘to take after’.

​Phrasal verbs, their meaning and exercises

To take apart – well, two meanings for this and you’ll be able to tell which from the context. So you might take something apart to see how it works. It could be something mechanical like a clock or a car engine. If you take it apart, you separate it into lots of pieces, into the pieces it’s made from. You might do this if you’re repairing something, you’re mending it. Or you might do this if you want to understand how it works. The second meaning here – if you ‘take someone apart’, that means that you criticise them. You ‘find fault’ with them – perhaps you make them look stupid. That’s ‘to take someone apart’. So really you’re ‘breaking them into pieces by saying bad things about them’. So two different meanings there.

To take away – again different meanings. Probably the most common one here is about food. So ‘to take away food’ means that you buy something to eat from a shop, but you eat it somewhere else. You take it away to eat it. And this has been made into a noun – so we talk about ‘Let’s get a takeaway’ meaning ‘Let’s take away food tonight – let’s not bother with cooking’. So it might be a burger, fish and chips or a Chinese takeaway perhaps. A more recent meaning here – and this isn’t in my dictionary – but if you have a meeting, perhaps a business meeting, at the end of it, people might ask ‘What’s the takeaway?’ meaning ‘What’s the overall message in this meeting? What’s the main thing that you want me to remember from this meeting?’

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To take away – is also used in Maths, in arithmetic. So you would say 11 take away 5 equals 6. 20 take away 12 equals 8. And so on. So another meaning for this word ‘to take away’ is to ‘subtract’. So we use this in Maths.

And of course, there are the ordinary, logical meanings of ‘to take away’ – ‘The girl took away the boy’s toy’, ‘I don’t want to take it away from you – your business is a success’. This last one means that you ‘don’t want to take away the credit’ from someone. You’re acknowledging that they’re successful. Or I might say to my son sometimes ‘I’m going to take your computer away, if you don’t do your homework’. So those are kind of normal meanings that you might expect.

​Specific examples with sentences of the phrasal verb to take

To take back – so here again, various meanings. If a couple have been having lots of arguments, not getting on (there’s another phrasal verb!) then they may separate. But if they then get back together again (another phrasal verb!), that means if they become again a couple, you might say ‘Oh, she’s taken him back’. Or ‘Oh, he’s taken her back’. So ‘to take someone back’ means that you have agreed to be in a relationship with them again. You’ve agreed to be a couple.

To take back – may also mean when you’ve bought something from a shop and either, you’re not happy with it, it’s too big or it’s too small, or it doesn’t work. And we would talk about you ‘taking it back to the shop’, and hopefully getting your money back again. So ‘I’m going to take that dress back to the shop – it’s too small for me!’ That’s ‘taking something back’.

To take back – you may also use this verb, when you’ve said something unpleasant, nasty, bad to somebody. You’ve perhaps criticised someone and now you feel sorry. You might apologise ‘I’m sorry’ and say ‘I take back what I said to you. It wasn’t right’. So if you ‘take back’ your words, you ‘take back’ your criticism, it means that you say sorry, and you’re saying that you regret saying those things, you didn’t mean them.

Another meaning of ‘to take back’ – if you hear someone say ‘Oh, that takes me back!’ It means that something reminds them of their past, reminds them of a time long ago. So it might be some music, which reminds them of their college days ‘Hearing that music takes me back to when I was at university’. Or tasting certain food might take me back to when I was a child. So it means it reminds me of a time in the earlier part of my life.

​The more you listen to phrasal verbs the easier it gets to spot them in conversation

And lastly, the more logical meaning. ‘To take back’ means what you might guess – to recover something or to reclaim something. One of the phrases that people in the UK who campaign for Brexit…they say ‘We’re going to take back control’. So the idea is that by coming out of the EU, we can again have control over our affairs. I’m not sure what’s happening with this at the moment, but taking back control is some people talk about.  

To take down – also has various meanings. It might be simple like ‘I took down my curtains’ or after Christmas I might ‘take the Christmas decorations down’. If you post a photograph online, and then you get a bad reaction, or you wish you hadn’t put it there, then you might take the photograph down. That means removing it from the internet. Or you could ‘take down a website’. That’s another meaning – you might remove the website or its content.

You can also ‘take someone down’ – that either means literally you’re going to hit them, you’re going to be violent to them, knock them onto the floor. Or it might mean more metaphorically you’re going to take away their power. It might be in business or in politics. So again, in the context of Brexit, there are some people who are talking about ‘taking down the UK government’, because they don’t agree with what the government is doing. So ‘to take down’ can mean to take away someone’s power. You might ‘take down’ a politician or you might take down a company. It means take away their power or possibly ruin them.

To take down – also it has another simple meaning. If you make notes in a meeting or watching a presentation, you might say ‘I’m taking down notes’. That simply means that as you listen, you’re writing down what’s being said.

Lastly – let’s do ‘to take for’. You might say ‘Do you take me for an idiot?’ That means ‘Do you think I’m an idiot?’ Or ‘the coins were taken for real’ – when in fact, they weren’t genuine coins. So ‘to take someone for something’ or ‘[to take] something for something’, it means that you perceive them wrongly, you have an impression of them, which isn’t perhaps correct. So I might say ‘I was taken for a man’ which means they thought that I was a man. Or ‘I was taken for a thief’, when actually I’ve just come to clean the windows or something! Someone might say ‘What do you take me for?’ which means ‘Is that really what you really think of me? That’s not me at all!!’

And bear in mind, there are also more guessable, logical meanings of ‘to take for’. You might ‘take your daughter for a haircut’ or ‘take your mother for a dental appointment’ or ‘take your cousin for an ice cream’. This implies you’re taking them out, probably taking them in your car and possibly paying for them to do something.

So, you get the picture with these phrasal verbs. There are a lot of meanings – even of just one phrasal verb. So in informal spoken English, we use them all the time, which means they’re worth learning. Have a look yourself at the rest of the phrasal verbs that I listed with ‘to take’ and see if you can understand them too.


Let me know if you find this podcast helpful – and I’ll come back to the subject, if you would like me to.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.


​​​Although this podcast has a specific English grammar purpose valuable in its own right. Do not forget that you are enjoying a lot of additional everyday English language when you listen to the audio. Around 80% of the everyday English words you would encounter when speaking and listening to English are right here on this podcast. So when you learn in this way using our “Listen & learn” approach you are getting two lessons for the price of one!

We talked all about the number of words you need to listen to for everyday English. Learning 3000 words will get you 90% of the English language used in everyday conversation but did you know listening and learning just 500 words can get you 80% of the words used. The trick is in how you remember them all. We explain how this is achieved and even provide a special course which has the 500 words built into special audio book stories you can use to speed up the learning process here.

You can always find more interesting learn English articles .​


Hilary is an Adept English Editor and a founding member of the company.

This content was originally published here.

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