10 Phrasal Verbs about Emotions

Are you ready to have some fun with phrasal verbs? Here are 10 common phrasal verbs related to emotions and attitudes, with definitions and example sentences:

Phrasal Verb #1 – cheer up

When you’re feeling sad, and then you start to feel happy again,you’re starting to cheer up. This phrasal verb is often used to encourage other people to have a more positive attitude. For example, if your daughter is sad because she did badly in a swimming competition, you can say:

“Cheer up – you’ll do better next time!”

You can also do things to help cheer another person up – imagine your brother is depressed because he broke up with his girlfriend. You could say:

“I’m going to take my brother to a basketball game to help cheer him up.”

Phrasal Verb #2 – lash out at (someone)

When someone suddenly and unexpectedly speaks to you in an angry way (or yells at you), they are lashing out at you. For example, if your best friend tends to get angry and impatient when her life is very busy, you could say:

“My best friend always lashes out at people when she’s under a lot of stress.”

Phrasal Verb #3 – crack up

To crack up is to suddenly start laughing (we also say “burst out laughing.”) For example, if something funny happens during English class, you could say:

“The whole class cracked up when the teacher spilled her coffee all over her desk.”

Phrasal Verb #4 – calm down

The phrasal verb calm down is used to describe the process of going from angry/agitated to more relaxed/calm.For example, if your boss is having a really bad day, and he’s screaming at everybody in the office, you could say:

“I’m staying away from the boss until he calms down.”

Phrasal Verb #5 – choke up

When you feel such strong emotion that it’s difficult for you to talk,this is called choking up. Imagine you are listening to a speech, and the speaker is talking about his mother, who he loved very much and who died recently. He stops talking for a moment because of all the emotion. You could then say:

“He choked up when he started to talk about the last Christmas he spent with his mother.”

Phrasal Verb #6 – let (someone) down

To let someone down is to disappoint someone. Imagine you forgot your wedding anniversary, and your wife is sad and disappointed that you didn’t do anything to celebrate. You could say:

“I’m really sorry. I know I let you down.”

Phrasal Verb #7 – grow on (someone)

When you don’t like something at the first impression, but gradually you begin to like it more and more, that thing has grown on you. For example, imagine you don’t like opera music the first time you hear it. However, over time, you begin to think “it’s not so bad…” and then after a while you think “hey, I actually like this music.” You could say:

“At first I didn’t like opera, but then it grew on me.”

Phrasal Verb #8 – bottle up

To bottle up your emotions is to keep them inside and not express them.For example, imagine you have a friend who is going through many difficult situations, but he never talks about the problems, and he pretends that everything is OK. You could say,

“It’s not healthy to bottle up your feelings like that.”

Phrasal Verb #9 – goof off / goof around

These phrasal verbs mean to act silly– not being serious. For example, if there are three students in your class who are always talking and laughing during the lesson, passing each other notes, watching videos on their cell phones, etc. – and not listening to the teacher – the teacher might say,

“Pay attention and stop goofing off!”

Phrasal Verb #10 – lighten up / loosen up

These phrasal verbs mean to take things less seriously, not be so rigid and humorless. When someone is TOO serious, and they seem incapable of smiling, laughing, or being relaxed, you can say:

“She really needs to lighten up!”

Learn Phrasal Verbs the Natural Way

If you want to be fluent in English, then you need to know phrasal verbs! However, most traditional English textbooks don’t focus on them.

The Phrasal Verbs in Conversation Course will teach you 500 common phrasal verbs in the context of everyday dialogues.

By listening to and reading the conversations, you’ll understand how each phrasal verb is used in spoken English – and there are plenty of quizzes and exercises for you to practice using the phrasal verbs in your own English.

Learn more about the Phrasal Verbs Course