Phrasal verbs at work

Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk. There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

Today, I’m focussing on phrasal verbs again and this week, I want to focus on vocabulary related to work. I was looking around at some lists of phrasal verbs that are related to work and there are lots. I have selected some that I think are important and put together a roleplay for you. I’m going to play the roleplay twice. After the first time, I’ll discuss the most important language and then I’ll play the roleplay again.

In the speaking club lesson, there will be a roleplay for you to do that will give you the chance to use this language to help you develop fluency. There’s a link to the speaking club on the side of the page for this podcast. 

Let’s get on with the roleplay.

Roleplay 

Frank: It’s really important that we can catch up like this every now and again

Jack: Yes there are a few things I would like to go over,  it’s been a while since we had a catch-up meeting like this.

Frank: I’m sorry we’ve not been able to meet up and talk things over before now but you know what it’s been like we’ve been so busy

Jack: I know we’ve been swamped

Frank: Yes I think everyone has 

Jack: Actually, there is something I’d like to run by you.

Frank: Oh yes?

Jack: At the last team meeting, there were a number of action points and because of … well … everything that’s been happening with Covid, I don’t think anyone has really followed up on any of them.

Frank: Yes – you’re right. That’s at the top of the agenda for the next team meeting.

Jack: Great – are we going to meet up soon.

Frank: I have pencilled in the 22nd, but I’m waiting on confirmation from a few people.

Jack: That will be really good.

Frank: There is something I could do with your help on.

Jack: Of course, if I can help.

Frank: I really need someone to look at the latest budget proposal and report back in the team meeting.

Jack: No problem. I’d be delighted.

Frank: Are you sure? I don’t want you to take on too much.

How many phrasal verbs did you hear? There were nine phrasal verbs that are commonly used at work and a few other pieces of vocabulary that might have been a bit tricky. I’m going to go through the language in the same order that it occurred in the dialogue and then I’ll replay the dialogue so you can hear the language in context.

To catch up

In the first line, Frank said it’s really important that we can catch up like this. To catch up means to talk with someone to find out all the latest news. If you are walking behind someone, you might have to walk fast to catch up with them. If you are behind the times, that is, if you don’t know the latest news or developments then you need to talk to someone to catch up. If you miss a class at school, you might need to do some extra homework to catch up and be at the same level as everyone else in the class. In office situations, it’s also used as a noun. Managers might organise catch-up meetings so that everyone in the team knows what’s happening.

To go over something

In the second line, I said that there were a few things I would like to go over. To go over something means to examine or discuss something in detail. So when you have written a report at work, it’s a good idea to go over it again and check for any typos or mistakes. If you want to go over something with somebody, then you want to talk about something.

To meet up

In the next line, Frank says he’s sorry that we’ve not been able to meet up and talk things over. To meet up just means to meet. It implies a deliberate meeting – you don’t usually meet up with people by accident – normally, it’s an arrangement. However, this is not a strong rule. If you meet up with someone, you do something with them. You wouldn’t use meet up to talk about bumping into someone when you were walking to the shops. 

To talk something over

To talk something over has a similar meaning to go over, but you talk something over with someone to find out their opinion. If someone asks to talk something over with you, it’s not so they can find a solution or solve a problem, but because they value your opinion. 

Swamped

I said that I’d been swamped. This is quite a colourful piece of language that we use to say we’ve been really busy. We use the verb swamp to say that there is too much of something. So, since I put the advert up for the job, I’ve been swamped by job applications. If you use it in a more general sense, it just means that you’ve had too much work on.

To run something by someone

I told Frank that there was something I wanted to run by him. To run something by someone means to present something to someone for their opinion and in often if you’re at work, approval or permission. I have a new idea for an English lesson that I’d like to run by you. I might want your permission to make the lesson or I might want your opinion.

Action points

I used the business English collocation action points. These are the things that people need to do following a meeting. So if you have a meeting and agree to buy some paper, sell the computer and send a letter to the bank, these are three action points that can be assigned or given to the people at the meeting. At the beginning of most meetings, you have to go over the action points from the last meeting.

To follow up on something

I said: I don’t think anyone’s really followed up on the action points. To follow up means to take further action. Usually, it’s agreed what the action is. Perhaps it’s to send an email or call someone to talk about something. For example, I got a sales enquiry from a company from Germany, but I never followed up so nothing came of it.

The agenda

The next bit of vocabulary was the agenda. This is a list of things that you plan to talk about in a meeting. An agenda is an official plan so you can have an agenda if you go on an organised tour. At work, we use the word to talk about the items that you need to talk about in a meeting. The different items that you want to discuss in a meeting can be described as being on the agenda.

To pencil something in

When I asked Frank if there was a date for the next meeting, he said he had pencilled in the 22nd. If you say you have pencilled in a plan, it means that the plan has not been confirmed. There is still a good chance that the plan will change. We say pencilled in because you can use an eraser to rub out plans that have been made in pencil. I think that a long time ago, we may have used inked in to say that a plan was certain, but we only use the phrasal verb to pencil something in.

Proposal

Another piece of vocabulary to look at was the word proposal. I think that the most famous use of proposal is when someone asks someone else to marry them. If you propose something, then it’s like you are making an official suggestion or offer. A proposal at work is usually a document that includes one or more suggestions about some activity, perhaps it’s the way a budget is spent or perhaps a company asks for proposals for a new service or some work they need to be done and different companies can submit their proposals. 

To report back on something

Frank asked me to look at the proposal and report back. This means to tell everyone else in the meeting the most important information from the proposal. If you are asked to report back on something, that might mean to tell people in a meeting or it might mean to write a short message with the important information and share it with your team. 

To take something on

In the last line, Frank says that he doesn’t want me to take on too much. To take on means to accept a particular responsibility or job. So if you are in a meeting and there are three action points. If you take on one of the action points, you are saying that you will be responsible for carrying out the action. I always take on too much at work because I hate saying no to people.

There you have 9 phrasal verbs and 4 pieces of vocabulary. I want you to listen to the roleplay again to hear the language in context. 

Roleplay

Frank: It’s really important that we can catch up like this every now and again

Jack: Yes there are a few things I would like to go over,  it’s been a while since we had a catch-up meeting like this.

Frank: I’m sorry we’ve not been able to meet up and talk things over before now but you know what it’s been like we’ve been so busy

Jack: I know we’ve been swamped

Frank: Yes I think everyone has 

Jack: Actually, there is something I’d like to run by you.

Frank: Oh yes?

Jack: At the last team meeting, there were a number of action points and because of … well … everything that’s been happening with Covid, I don’t think anyone has really followed up on any of them.

Frank: Yes – you’re right. That’s at the top of the agenda for the next team meeting.

Jack: Great – are we going to meet up soon.

Frank: I have pencilled in the 22nd, but I’m waiting on confirmation from a few people.

Jack: That will be really good.

Frank: There is something I could do with your help on.

Jack: Of course, if I can help.

Frank: I really need someone to look at the latest budget proposal and report back in the team meeting.

Jack: No problem. I’d be delighted.

Frank: Are you sure? I don’t want you to take on too much.

I hope you have enjoyed this lesson and find the language useful. There’s an interactive activity on the page for this podcast on Learn English Vocabulary .co.uk for you to practise using the language. If you want to practise using it in a speaking activity, then check out the speaking club.

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a rating or a review. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have. If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

Test yourself

Show CommentsClose Comments

11 Comments

  • Yvonne Litavski
    Posted 16/12/2020 at 1:20 pm 0Likes

    Very useful phrases, I enjoyed your podcast. Could you please make more podcasts about Business English?

    • Jack
      Posted 22/12/2020 at 5:07 pm 0Likes

      Hi Yvonne – sure. I’ll keep making the podcasts when I can. There’s a lot of business English so I’ll be sure to include business English vocabulary.
      thanks

  • Nicky Epp
    Posted 16/12/2020 at 7:10 pm 0Likes

    Hello Jack, I am back again! Thanks for this marvelous podcast! I really appreciate all your help in English! This lesson was especially helpful because it helped me understand the difference between some very common phrasal verbs. I will try to make some example sentences to put it into practice:

    We need to catch up to discuss the latest news of the company. I have been out of the loop ever since I was on vacation
    We need to meet up and touch base!
    Can you go over my essay and tell me where there is still room for improvement?
    I am afraid we cant hang out tonight! I am swamped with work. Can I take a raincheck?
    It looks like the new employee took on too many r4esponsabilities and is now overwhelmed. He is still learning the ropes at his new job.
    December was penciled in as the date for the meeting but it is still up in the air.
    We have a lot of issues to discuss in this meeting. So lets stop beating around the bush and get down to business.

    Thanks a lot for this lesson!

  • Nina
    Posted 21/12/2020 at 8:32 am 0Likes

    Hey I did really enjoy ur podcasts could u pls make a podcast about supernatural TV show?:)

    • Jack
      Posted 22/12/2020 at 11:46 am 0Likes

      Hi Nina – I’ll have a look at the show and try my best.

  • brian
    Posted 21/12/2020 at 7:04 pm 0Likes

    could you please make podcast with the topic ghost of you by 5 second of summer😁💝

    • Jack
      Posted 22/12/2020 at 11:46 am 0Likes

      Hi Brian – I’ll check it out and do my best.

  • Nina
    Posted 22/12/2020 at 6:08 pm 0Likes

    thanks a lot

  • Rhayanne Maria Freitag
    Posted 07/01/2021 at 9:40 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for the podcast. I am learn a lot.

  • Pedro
    Posted 05/03/2021 at 12:17 am 0Likes

    This lesson was very useful for me. I will try to listen all your podcasts because they are very good. I really need to improve my english. Congratulations!
    Thank you!

  • Michael
    Posted 21/03/2021 at 12:08 pm 0Likes

    Congrats. Very useful, short and simple. I would appreciate if you could do something on phrasal verbs (in a pub, football discussion, every day life issues).

Leave a comment