In this study guide, we will teach you 16 common phrasal verbs with ‘take’. Learn their many meanings, explore real native examples of phrasal verbs in context, and try our exercises at the end to test your understanding. You can even save a pdf copy of this guide to use later. Ready? Let’s take a look!
16 phrasal verbs with ‘take’ (with example sentences)
1. TAKE ABACK
To surprise or shock someone (old-fashioned, rare) We were taken aback by the news. His voice was so loud that it took us aback at first.
2. TAKE AFTER
To be similar to someone in appearance or character, especially a family member She’s very funny. She takes after her mother. He takes after his father’s side of the family.
3. TAKE APART
Take something apart or separate something into its different parts He took my phone apart to fix it.
Showing the weakness of an argument or an idea They will take our report apart and then give us feedback.
To criticise something (British English) The reviewers took apart the new film.
4. TAKE AWAY
To remove something Take that table away as we don’t need it in here. They tookaway my passport so I can’t travel.
To subtract a number or amount Six take away four is two.
To buy food from a restaurant and eat it elsewhere We ordered Chinese food to take away
To get a piece of information or message from something What I took away from that film is that neither side wins in a war. Take away from something
To reduce the positive effect of something The drunken fight after the party took away from the celebration. Take someone away
Bring someone from their home to an institution He became very aggressive so we called the police and they took him away.
5. TAKE BACK
Take something back
Return something to the place you bought it The dress was too tight so I took it back to the shop.
Admitting something you said/thought was wrong You’re not selfish. I take that (comment) back.
To regain possession of I took back my jacket from Sarah. Take someone back
Allow someone to come back/return He cheated on her but she finally took him back. Takes you back (British English)
Reminds you of a time in your past Playing that game took me back to my childhood.
In British English the phrases ‘to take down a notch’ or ‘to take down a peg’ are commonly used in conversation to express lowering/reducing someone in power. For example, “He’s so arrogant! I’d like to take him down a notch”.
6. TAKE DOWN
Take something down
Reach up and get something from a high place He took down the book from the top of the bookcase.
To dismantle a structure After the music festival, they took down the stage.
To write down a piece of information She took down John’s number so she could call him back. Take somebody down
To humble or humiliate someone, to lower/reduce in power The journalist took the politician down with her difficult questions.
To hit or shoot someone so they fall down My brother would easily take you down in a fight!
To remove a prisoner from where they stand in court (British) Court is adjourned. Take him down.
7. TAKE FOR
To believe something about somebody, often wrongly You took me for an idiot. She looks very mature so I took her for much older than 14.
Some phrasal verbs have many different meanings – both formal and informal. The intended meaning can only be understood from the context. For example, to ‘take in’ can mean to pay attention to something or to make an item of clothing smaller. To ‘take something back’ can mean to return an item to a shop for a refund or to admit that something you said was wrong. And to ‘take off’ can either mean a plane leaving the ground or it can be used to describe someone becoming successful very suddenly.
8. TAKE IN
Take somebody in
Allow someone to stay in your house/country He had nowhere to go so she took him in.
When the police remove someone from their home in order to question them The police took him in for questioning about the robbery.
Deceived by something/someone She lied! I can’t believe I was taken in by her. Take something in
To pay attention to, understand something It was a very good speech and I took it all in.
See everything at the same time with just one look When she walked into the room she took it all in.
Allow something to enter your body, by breathing or swallowing Some plants take in a lot of water and can’t grow in dry places.
To make clothing smaller/tighter She took in her dress as it was too big.
The amount of money a business gets from people buying goods or services It was a successful year as the company took in £1.5 million.
To include or constitute something The book takes in the period between the First and Second World Wars.
Phrasal verbs are very common in native English conversation. For example, try using ‘take off’ to describe suddenly leaving somewhere, ‘take up’ to mean start doing a hobby or ‘take down’ to mean defeat or humiliate someone. When you next watch a TV show or film in English try and listen out for phrasal verbs with ‘take’ and note how they are used.
9. TAKE OFF
Leave the ground (an airplane, bird or insect) The plane took off at 2pm.
To become successful or popular very suddenly Her career took off.
To suddenly leave somewhere (informal) He took off before I had a chance to say bye.
Imitate/impersonate somebody She takes off her mother so well.
When a service is withdrawn The program was taken off TV because it wasn’t very popular. Take something off
To remove a piece of clothing It was hot in the room so he took off his jumper.
Not go to work, but with permission She took a week off to go and visit her family.
10. TAKE ON
Take something on
Accept a job or responsibility, especially a difficult one I took on the project.
Develop an appearance or quality The room took on a 1970s look. Take somebody on
Employ someone to do a job I went for the interview last week and now they’ve decided to take me on.
To fight or compete against someone Germany will take on Mexico in the first round of the World Cup.
Allowing people to get on a vehicle We can only take on five more passengers at the next stop.
When it comes to food, ‘take out’ and ‘take away’ both mean the same thing – to buy food from a restaurant and eat it somewhere else. But ‘take away’ is more common in the UK and ‘take out’ more common in the US.
11. TAKE OUT
Take something out
Remove something from its place I got my wisdom tooth taken out. I took out my wallet from my bag.
Obtain something official, such as a loan, licence or insurance policy She took out a loan from the bank.
Buy food from a restaurant and eat it elsewhere Do you want that to eat in or take out? Take someone out
Go somewhere with someone, you usually invite them and pay David took his girlfriend out for dinner.
Kill or destroy someone/something His entire army unit got taken out in Afghanistan. Take it out of you
Something that requires a lot of effort and makes you tired The journey to work this morning was a nightmare! It really took it out of me. Take something out on someone
To treat someone badly because you feel upset or angry Sorry, I was very upset yesterday and I took it out on you.
12. TAKE OVER
Take something over
To get control of a company, business Facebook took over WhatsApp in 2014.
To seize power/control (e.g. of a country), often by force When the protests started the army took over. Take over from something
To become bigger/more important than something else, take control Her desire to win took over. Take over from somebody
To start having control of something, in place of somebody else Susan is taking overfrom Anna as manager.
13. TAKE someone THROUGH something
To explain something to someone Let me take you through the instructions for the exam. If you don’t understand what you’re meant to do, I can take you through it.
14. TAKE TO
To like something/somebody It was only the teacher’s first class but the students really took to him.
Start doing something often She’s taken to drinking green tea every morning.
15. TAKE UP
Spend time doing something regularly (e.g. a hobby) She took up swimming and started going twice a week.
Act on a question, problem or cause When she read about the libraries closing, she took up the issue with her MP (Member of Parliament, local politician).
Start working at a job He will take up his position next week.
Accept an offer or challenge He was offered a promotion at work and, although it was a lot more work, he took up the challenge.
Use space, time or effort I know you’re busy so I won’t take up too much of your time.
Get into a particular position She took up a position in the corner of the room.
To start something after an interruption or someone else has started it When David left the police, Anna took up his unfinished case. Take somebody up on something
Say yes to an invitation or offer – I can show you round London if you like. – I’ll take you up on that (offer)! Take something up with somebody
Discuss a subject with someone, usually a complaint If you’re unhappy with the service, you’ll have to take it upwith my manager.
16. TAKE it UPON oneself
Accept responsibility for something He took it upon himself to show the guests around. I took it upon myself to give him the bad news.
Exercises: phrasal verbs with ‘take’
Choose the correct phrasal verb to complete the sentences below:
Will you take on/take out/take up the trash?
You take after/ take in/ take to your mother! You have the same hair and eyes.
Are you going to take to/take up/take her out this weekend for dinner?
I didn’t like the shoes I bought so I took them back/ took them apart/ took them in to the shop.
I love this dress but it’s a bit big, I think I should get it taken in/taken away/taken back at the waist.
Fill in the gaps with an appropriate ‘take’ phrasal verb:
She’s _______________ dancing, she goes once a week.
I know you’ve had a bad day but don’t __________ on me.
Do you want this food to eat in or _________?
Let me get a pen so I can ____________ your details.
How many refugees did the UK _______ this year?
Match the phrasal verbs 1-5 with their correct meanings a-e:
Take it upon oneself
To believe something about somebody, often wrongly
To become successful or popular very suddenly
To surprise or shock someone
To be similar to someone in appearance or character, especially a family member
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