Phrasal-Verbs – Letter S (With Prepositions)

–  Prepositional Phrasal-Verbs – Letter S  –


  • (to be) Born With A Silver Spoon In (one’s) Mouth – This is an IdiomaticPrepositional & Adjectival Phrasal Verb which is used to express that a person was born into a family and a life of wealth and privilege and has probably never had to work or experience any hardship in his or her life.  It is usually said as a derogatory remark against that person out of jealousy and resentment…

“Most people would agree that Gwyneth Paltrow was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and that is why people resent almost all of the ridiculous things that she says to the media.”

“I called the meeting today because I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page about what is to be expected with the new project.”

  • (to) Over-sleep – This is not to be confused with the phrasal verb, to “Sleep Over”, this is a phrasal verb which means to accidentally sleep past the time that one was supposed to, or at least intending to wake up…  “Oh No!  I *over-slept* again!  The boss is going to be really mad!”  –  Notice also that the past tense of this verb is irregular.

  • (to) Set Aside Some Money (for something) /  (to) Set Some Money Aside (for something) – This is a (slightly) idiomatic phrase which means:  To save some money for a specific thing or event, but what makes this phrase distinct from simply saying that one will simply “save” money, is that the money is either literally “set aside” (put in a different place) or allocated differently so that it can not be comingled with other funds used for other purposes.  This phrase is used to describe saving for things like vacations and large expenses…  “I have been *setting aside some money* every week to pay for a special vacation this year, since we didn’t have one last year.”

  • (to) Set Up (a business) – This phrasal verb has a number of meanings, but when talking about business, it means “to establish” something (a business, a project, an office, etc..)  This term can be used in all tenses, but is usually used in present and future tense, whereas “establish” is usually used in the past tense… not present or future…  “The business was set up in 2012, in order to provide the ‘authentic English for the REAL world’.”

  • (to be) Shaking In (one’s) Boots – This is an idiomatic adjectival phrase which describes when a person is so filled with fear that they are trembling, shivering, actually shaking…  “When the police asked to search the car, the suspect was *shaking in his boots*.  Since it was summertime and not a cold evening, that was a clear sign to them that he was hiding something.”

  • (to) Shoot Yourself In The Foot – Since shooting oneself in the foot is not a very pleasant thing, and it usually makes a person feel pretty stupid for doing something so clumsy, we use this idiomatic phrasal verb to describe any situation wherein someone does something really stupid or embarrassing which should not have happened because it was so clumsy or careless…  “When I asked her if she had broken her nose when she was younger, I really *shot myself in the foot*.  It turns out that her nose is naturally crooked…  now she won’t even talk to me.”  –   Read the Full Post

  • (to be) Shot Down – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which comes to us from the lovely world of warfare.  This phrase is most often used in reference to ideas which are rejected before they are even given any thought.  In aerial warfare, it was usually a good idea to *shoot down* the enemy planes before they had a chance to drop any of their bombs.  So if a person is in a meeting or discussion and every idea or suggestion is completely rejected without even a thought (usually because they would compromise the person or group who is *shooting them down*) then we say that the person’s ideas were *shot down*…  This phrase is almost always used in the past tense to describe the situation…  “All of my ideas were *shot down*.”  It is almost never used in the present tense, “Stop *shooting down* all my ideas.” – instead we usually use the verb, “reject”.

  • (to) Show Up – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which, like (to) “Turn Up” is used to talk about something appearing somewhere.  However, where-as (to) “Turn Up” is usually used to talk about things, (to) *Show Up* is usually used to refer to people…  “My student didn’t *show up* for class until five minutes before the session was supposed to end…  and then asks me if we can re-schedule!”

  • (to) Sign Up – This is a phrasal verb which means: to register, to join, to officially include oneself in something…  “In order to be included in the contest, you need to *sign up* at the registration center.”

  • (to) Sit On (one’s) Hands – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which is used to describe when someone chooses to do nothing in a situation (for whatever reason.)…  “When I was younger, I was so afraid of confrontation that whenever I was faced with a challenge, instead of facing it when it was manageable, I chose *to sit on my hands* and ultimately the situations turned into much bigger problems.”

  • (to) Slack Off – This is an Idiomatic and Prepositional Phrasal-Verb which is used to mean:  To purposely be lazy, un-productive, and un-caring.  The word “slack”, refers to the loose part of a rope, twine, cable etc. that is attached at two ends to something but is not tight.  “Slack” is the opposite of “Tension”.  If someone is being productive there is a form of “tension” that is created by the act of working, so to slack off is to “do” (by not doing) the opposite of that.  –  (See Also:  (a) Slacker”)

  • (to) Sleep Around – This is a derogatory phrase to describe someone who either has many sexual partners or who is at least rumored to be that way (as you know that often times when people say derogatory things about another, they are exaggerated.)…  “I don’t want that guy hanging around my daughter!  I’ve heard that he *sleeps around* a lot, and I don’t want him messing up my her life when she has so much going for her.”

  • (to) Sleep In – This is the best part of a day off!  It just means to not get up early and to just keep sleeping until you want to get out of bed, rather than to get up to an alarm…  “I’m sure that we will be pretty tired after the concert tonight.  I’m definitely going to *sleep in* tomorrow.”

  • (to) Sleep On It – This is a phrase we use when we are faced with a big decision that we can’t make right at the moment so we say we need to “Sleep On It”…  “I was offered a huge promotion with an incredible pay raise, but I was told that I would need to move to Antarctica…  I told them I would have to *sleep on it*.”

  • (to) Sleep Over – Not to be confused with “(to) Over-Sleep”, this idiomatic phrasal verb is used to describe when a person spends the night at someone else’s place.  This phrase is most often used by children to describe when they stay at a friend’s house, but can be used by anyone of any age to talk about staying at anyone’s place…  “My favorite thing, when I was a kid, was to *sleep over* at my friend Dan’s house.  he has tons of cool comics, models, and role-playing games and we had tons of fun together.”

  • (to) Soak Up (something) – Literally speaking, this phrasal verb describes what a sponge or paper towel does when cleaning up some spilled liquid.  Figuratively speaking (idiomatically), this phrasal verb is used to talk about a drastic, severe, or extensive input of…  something.  This phrase is usually used with the topic of “information”, and “sunshine”, but the possible uses are virtually endless…  “When some people go on holiday, they like to *soak up* as much information as possible about the local culture and history.  I do enjoy that as well, but I prefer to *soak up* the sunshine, while laying on a beach, reading a good book, and drinking a cold beer.”

  • (To) Spiral Out Of Control – This is an idiomatic verb-phrase which is use to say that something, not-only went “out of control”, but did-so in a very chaotic and extreme way…  “When the his opponents tried to ruin him with false allegations – and then failed, everything *spiralled out of control* and now it is they who are being proven guilty for nearly everything that they accuse him of.”

  • (to) Splash Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which means, not only to spend a lot of money, but to do it is a way that meant to be a special “treat” for one’s self.  One could go to the bar some night and spend nearly all of one’s salary buying expensive drinks to try to impress ladies who are only there to take advantage of un-witting drunk guys.  That would probably make one feel pretty horrible about it the next morning.  This is not “*Splashing Out*“…  To *splash out* would be saving money for a special occasion, like a with a beautiful dinner with all of the extras in order to treat a woman who is worth it, and in the process not worry about money because you have set aside enough to not have to think about it, so that one can focus on having a wonderful evening…  That is *splashing out*.  –  (of course, as everyone’s tastes are different, what one actually does to *splash out* will be different from others.)

  • (to) Spring Up – There are a few ways that one can think about this phrase.  “Spring” (as a verb) means to bounce or jump, and to spring up can mean to jump up; come up; suddenly.  However, another way to think of this is that – in the Spring (season), plants start to come up out of the ground, seemingly from nowhere, without the help of humans.  So when something *springs up* suddenly, it is as if it came from out of nowhere and is suddenly in abundance…  “After Michael Jackson’s death, it seemed that die-hard Michael Jackson fans *sprung up* from out of nowhere!  Suddenly the whole world was claiming to be to be his biggest fan, however, when he was alive people had nothing but bad things to say about him.”

  • (to) Stand Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which means:  To be very obvious and hard to NOT notice, and is usually meant in a “positive” way…  “My wife is so beautiful and stylish, that even when she is casually dressed, she always *stands out* in the crowd.”  –  (See also:  “Stick Out” and “Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb”)

  • (to) Step Up – This is a phrasal verb which has many different meanings:

1.  –  (regarding production) To speed up; accelerate; or increase…  “We need to *step up* production in order to fill all of the orders for Christmas.”

2.  –  More Coming Soon!

  • (to) Stick Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which means:  To be very obvious and hard to NOT notice, and is usually meant in a “negative” way…  “Americans travelling abroad always seem to *stick out* in the crowd because no matter what the situation they are always wearing flip-flops and speaking very loudly.”   –  (see also: “Stand Out” and “Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb”)

  • (to) Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which, similar to “Stick Out” means:  To be very obvious and hard NOT to notice, but this is a much more extreme version that is usually used as an insult…  “That florescent green shirt, in combination with the brown pants and white shoes, makes him *stick out like a sore thumb*.”

  • (to) Stick To (something) – The word “stick”, as a verb, means the same thing as “(to) Adhere to”, and both can be used figuratively as a way of saying that one decides to do something and then does not change the behavior based on that decision…  “In order to make GiveMeSomeEnglish!!! the best English website in the Universe, I really have to *stick to* a routine of adding quality content, and to make sure that I do not sacrifice my ideals in any way.”

  • (To) Straighten Up = This is an idiomatic And Prepositional Phrasal-Verb which is often used as an interjection to say:  “Behave!” or to express that one should or needs to change one’s behavior because it is not considered acceptable presently.

  • (To Be) Straightened Up = This is an idiomatic And Prepositional Phrasal-Verb which is used to mean:  “Fixed”.

  • (to be) Stressed Out – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which is very similar to the meaning of simply being “stressed”.  However, the word “out” is added to imply that the amount of stress that the one, using this phrase has experienced has completely used up the amount of energy that that person has to ordinarily deal with such situations.  Therefore that person is “Out” of the energy needed to deal with stress.  “I am completely *stress out* with all of the ridiculous and selfish requests that I have received from my clients lately.  I’m used to change on a regular basis, but lately the changes have been absolutely too much and I can’t tolerate it any longer.”

  • (to) Strike A Chord With (someone) – “to strike” means “to hit”, and the “chord” in this phrase refers to the string of a piano (or any stringed instrument).  When a chord is struck on a piano, it causes the string to vibrate.  This, in turn, causes the strings next to it on either side to start to vibrate or “resonate” at the same frequency.  So if something “strikes a chord” with you, it literally (proven by science) causes you to vibrate with the same frequency – causing you to feel and think the same way…  “The speakers ideas really *struck a chord* with me.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.”  –  (See Also:  “(to) Resonate With (someone/something)“)

“Take an opportunity while it is still available.”

…Because often-times, when people hesitate, the opportunity can be missed.  This phrase comes from the art of black-smithing (iron-working).  When the metal is red-hot then it is soft and easy to work with.  Once the metal cools, it hardens and is much more difficult to work with.  The word “strike” is verb which means:  To hit/pound/kick/etc..  So Idiomatically, if one “Strikes While The Iron Is Hot” then it will be much easier to take that opportunity…  but if one waits, the opportunity will be gone – just like the possibility to shape cold metal.  –  (Note Also: that the article “the” is not necessary, but is grammatically more proper.)

  • (to) Stroll Around – This is a non-idiomatic phrasal verb version, which means virtually the same thing as the more simple verb form of  “to stroll”.  It simply means, to walk “around” (some place) without having a clear or defined destination.  Since “to stroll” means to walk without a destination or a time-frame within which to arrive, and by adding the preposition “around” simply adds the “place” to the phrase…  “I didn’t have anywhere to be for quite some time, so I just *strolled around* the park for about an hour before returning home.”

  • (to) Switch Off – This is an idiomatic phrasal verb which is used to mean:  To stop doing & thinking about something so completely as to no longer be affected by the stress and anxiety that that thing usually or may cause.  This phrase is almost always referring to one’s work…  “In America, people don’t seem to appreciate the absolute necessity to take a vacation and actually *switch off* from their stressful lives.  Instead they think that they absolutely HAVE TO keep working – and then they get fat, take lots of anti-depressants and die un-happy and un-fulfilled.”

–  ( Phrasal-VerbsLetter S )  –


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