5 Useful Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge English Exams

Choosing the right words is important

One of the aspects of language that is evaluated in Cambridge English exams is range of vocabulary. This isn’t just about the amount of vocabulary knowledge but also how accurately someone uses it and in how many ways they can express their ideas. It’s also a great way to develop and demonstrate fluency. For these reasons, learning phrasal verbs is important when studying for Cambridge exams.

But which phrasal verbs should be studied? When should they be used? The ideal answer to the first question would be “as many as possible” but that makes the second one harder to tackle.

In this lesson series, we will learn some of the most useful and versatile phrasal verbs and how to use them to help you achieve success in your Cambridge English exam.

Get into

Gardening Phrasal Verbs
I want to get into gardening

This phrasal verb is frequently used by native English speakers and can be used for a variety of topics. It is typically used when we become interested in something or want to start doing an activity.

Get into is a separable phrasal verb, which means you CAN put a word between the verb and the preposition.

Use this phrasal verb when talking about:


  1. Last year, I got into drawing and now I’m going to art school.

  2. I have tried many times but I can’t get into tennis.

Health and fitness

  1. Sarah has been looking more and slimmer ever since she got into fitness.

  2. It’s difficult to get people into a new diet.


  1. My Spanish girlfriend got me into learning her language.

  2. In recent years, the number of students getting into online learning has been increasing.

Next time you want to talk about starting something new or growing an interest in something, like a hobby or subject, use this phrasal verb.

Put up with

Phrasal Verbs for office
How does he put up with his screaming?

Another commonly used phrasal verb that native speakers often use. Put up is often followed by the preposition with when talking about handling difficult people or situations. When you feel you’re faced with something that makes your life uncomfortable or difficult, this is a great phrasal verb to express that.

Put up with is an inseparable phrasal verb which means you CAN’T put a word between the verb and preposition.

Use this phrasal verb when talking about:


  1. I’m tired of putting up with my boss’s constant yelling and insults.

  2. When working in customer support, you often have to put up with angry customers.


  1. Every Christmas, Sarah has to put up with her mother’s criticism during family gatherings.

  2. Loving your family can sometimes mean you have to put up with their opinions that are different from yours.

Society and people

  1. Living in another country can be difficult when you have to put up with behavior you’re not used to.

  2. My roommate never cleans up and I’m sick of putting up with her laziness.

If you ever start complaining about your lazy roommate or one of your colleagues at work, try using this phrasal verb to give your fluency a level up.

Come up with

Ideas of Phrasal Verbs
Pin the ideas you come up with

Ideas come to us a lot and it’s at these times when we want to shine the brightest. Come up with is a high-frequency phrasal verb that is perfect to use when discussing ideas, inventions, and creations.

Come up with, just like with put up with, is an inseparable phrasal verb.

You can use it when talking about:


  1. No one came up with any good solutions during the meeting.

  2. Even though John comes up with a lot of good ideas for products, nobody uses them.


  1. Teachers are always expected to come up with new ideas to keep their lessons fresh.

  2. No matter how hard you think, you can’t just come up with the answers to a test without studying.


  1. Sarah spent the whole afternoon coming up with ideas on what to paint.

  2. The key to winning at chess is to come up with a strategy that can beat your opponent’s.

Even when you are strapped for good ideas, you won’t have to think twice about discussing them with this phrasal verb.

Cut down on

Got to cut down on the chocolate!

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, become more productive, or save more money, there’s always something you do that you have to reduce or a habit you have you must break. This is where cutting down on something comes in handy. This phrasal verb can be seen in plenty of blogs and heard in endless YouTube videos that aim to help you become a better person.

Cut down on is an inseparable phrasal verb.

You can use it when talking about:

Health and fitness

  1. You must cut down on eating sugar if you want to lose weight.

  2. Cutting down on smoking is the first step towards quitting smoking.

Money and finances

  1. In order to save money to buy a house, John and his family cut down on a lot of their expenses.

  2. Most people can easily cut down on unimportant expenses, such as paying for 100 channels on TV, in order to save some money every month.

Society and people

  1. If you cut down on the time you spend on social media, you’ll have more time for important things.

No matter what it is you’re looking to cut down on, this phrasal verb is always there to make your language richer.

Pay off

Phrasal Verbs for art
Hard work pays off with great art

We all work hard and do our best because we want to live a better life. As such, we hope that all the energy we put into what we’re doing will give us something back in return. Almost every famous person and philosopher agrees that our efforts will always pay off, especially when we learn and study hard.

Pay off is an inseparable phrasal verb.

It can be used when talking about:


  1. After years of slaving away my work has finally paid off and I got a promotion.

  2. Fresh graduates should focus on experience instead of money because it will pay off in the future.

Health and fitness

  1. Eating healthy when you’re young will pay off when you’re older.

  2. Doing regular exercise pays off by giving you more daily energy.

Money and finance learn

  1. Start saving money early so that your retirement pays off more.

  2. Working hard and diligently is guaranteed to pay off so get to learning these phrasal verbs!

Time to practice

Match the phrasal verbs you learnt to the following sentences. Remember to also use the correct form!

Despite ___________________ eating junk food and sweets, Annie still doesn’t seem to be losing weight.

Larry felt that he had ____________________ his co-workers’ bad behavior for too long so he decided to look for another job.

Can you give me any tips on how to ___________________ bodybuilding?

Nobody really knows who __________________ the new marketing plan but it has been working great.

If you invest some money into the new company while it’s still cheap, it will ___________________ in the long run.

Now you know five commonly used phrasal verbs that are sure to level up your Cambridge exam scores as well as your English speaking in general. Why don’t you start by writing some examples of your own in the comment section below?

There you have it! I hope this has been useful. If so, share this article with someone who wants to learn English, follow us on Instagram and try making some examples in the comments below!

See you in the next lesson!

See you in the next lesson!

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