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8 Everyday Phrasal Verbs That Can Help You Describe Results

Understand and use these common phrasal verbs when describing results

Intransitive – there is no object after the verb (the subject is the situation)

Pay offHe spent years training for the Olympics and it finally paid off when he won the gold medal.

  • Use “pay off” when an investment of time, money, effort etc. has a positive result. The subject should be the investment (or “it” to represent this investment)

Work outI’m glad that everything worked out.

  • Use “work out” when a complicated or difficult situation had a positive resolution in the end. If you use it in negative form, it means a negative result (“it didn’t work out”).

Pan outShe’s happy with how everything panned out.

  • Use “pan out” in the same way as “work out” to describe a positive ending to a situation. If you use it in negative form, it means a negative result (“it didn’t pan out”).

Fall throughTheir plans to acquire a competitor fell through when they couldn’t agree on a price.

  • Use “fall through” to describe plans that fail to happen. The subject should be something that does not happen in the end.

Play outI want to see how the situation plays out before I invest

  • Use “play out” to describe events in a situation developing.

Come aboutI don’t know how the problem came about.

  • Use “come about” to describe something that happens

Transitive – there is an object after the verb

Bring aboutthe new government brought about major changes in tax policy.

  • Use “bring about” when the subject causes the object to happen

Get throughmany small businesses are struggling to get through the economic shock of COVID

  • Use “get through” when the subject successfully manages a difficult situation.

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Part 1: For each expression below, decide if the result was successful (yes) or not (no):

  • Ex. “everything worked out.” = Yes (it was successful)

  1. All of the time and effort paid off.

  2. We got through it.

  3. It didn’t work out.

  4. Our plans fell through.

  5. I’m surprised that it panned out.

Part 2: Rewrite the sentences below by removing the underlined part and replacing it with a phrasal verb:

  1. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops over a period of time.

  2. I’m glad that my investment in a good college education gave me a good result!

  3. The 9/11 terrorist attack caused changes in airport security checks.

  4. I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’re having. I hope everything ends successfully.

  5. I had a difficult time when I lost my job, but my family helped me manage it.

Part 3: Choose the correct answer:

  1. My friends and I were supposed to go to the beach yesterday but our plans (worked out/came about/fell through), so I just stayed at home all day.

  2. Our hotel had a major water leak, so we had to move out quickly, but they paid for us to stay at a nearby hotel, which was even nicer, so everything (paid out/played out/worked out).

  3. The new controversial company policies (got through/paid off/brought about) a labour strike from the union.

  4. I was very nervous about my speech, but I was able to (bring about/play out/get through) it.

  5. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the COVID vaccines. I’m a little anxious to see how it will (play out/fall through/work out) in the next few months.

  6. I’m going to lunch but let me know if anything (brings about/comes about/pans out) while I’m gone.

  7. I tried to start a business with my friend, but it didn’t (bring about/pan out/play out). We lost some money.

  8. He had to study in medical school for five years but it (paid off/worked out/fell through) and he got his degree.


Part one:

  1. Yes

  2. Yes

  3. No

  4. No

  5. Yes

Part two:

  1. Plays out

  2. Paid off

  3. Brought about

  4. Works out / Pans out

  5. Get through

Part three:

  1. Fell through

  2. Worked out

  3. Brought about

  4. Get through

  5. Play out

  6. Comes about

  7. Pan out

  8. Paid off

1 Comment

Excelent topic!!

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