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Some verbs might have quite a few different meanings. Only the most important ones are listed here.

Remember to pay attention to the examples and the collocations.


Account for Explain [Account for something] (insep) (money, difference, actions) When you account for something, you explain or give a reason for it.

  • How will you account for the money you spent?
  • She couldn't account for her absence from work.
  • How will you account for such a big difference?

Act out 1 Perform [Act something out](script, story) When you act something out, you perform it or make it into a play.

  • The script itself is well written and well acted out by the cast.
  • The new middle class liked to see its own dilemmas acted out on stage.
  • When you read a story or a poem to your child, act it out with him or her.

2 Express (fantasy, frustration, instincts) Express your feelings or ideas:

  • He has become desperate and is acting out his frustration.
  • Children like to act out their fantasies.

Act up (child, car, computer, injury, arm, leg, wound) When somebody or something acts up, they behave badly, hurt or don't work properly.  Play up

  • This computer's acting up again.
  • The children were acting up because their mother wasn't there.

Add in Include [Add something in] (cost, flour, figures) When you add something in, you include it or mix it with something else.

  • Add in the cost of the accessories you might need.
  • Slowly add in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well blended.

Add on Includ [Add something on] When you add something on, you include it or add it.

  • These are quite expensive though, by the time you've added on border taxes.
  • The airlines themselves are adding on fees and surcharges as they struggle to cope with a decline in passengers.

Add up Make sense (insep) When something adds up, it makes sense.

  • This just doesn't add up.
  • Their economic proposals don't add up.

Add up Calculate [Add something up] (bill, expenses, figures, numbers) When you add something up, you calculate the total.

  • She added up the bill.
  • You made a mistake while you were adding these numbers up.

Allow for [Allow for something] When you allow for something, you take it into consideration or make it possible.

  • There should be a comfortable working atmosphere, one that doesn't discriminate and allows for mistakes.

Answer back When you answer back, you reply rudely.

  • Don't answer back to your mum!
  • Don't answer me back!

Answer for (insep) (actions, behaviour) When you answer for something, you take the responsibility for something wrong you have done.

  • Some Iraqis had hoped to see Saddam's elder son answer for his actions before a war crimes tribunal.
  • Everyone must answer for his own actions.

Apply for [Answer for something] (insep) (job, permit, permission, grant, scholarship, loan) When you apply for something, you fill in a form or write a formal letter asking for it.

  • Applying for financial aid has never been easier!
  • No credit? No problem! Apply for your new Visa Card and MasterCard Today!
  • You can apply for a library card online!

Ask after [Ask after somebody] (insep) When you ask after somebody, you inquire how somebody is getting on.

  • I heard he is in Kalatura prison, and I wrote to the government asking after him.
  • The next day, her brother came to ask after her.

Ask about, ask around (insep) When you ask around, you make inquiries.

  • I'll ask around and see if there's a room vacant somewhere.
  • I am going to ask about to see if anyone has any suggestions of other products.

Ask for [Ask for something] (help, receipt, trouble) When you ask for something, you request it.

  • They have written to the actress asking for her help in raising money for Nicaraguan children.
  • If you're donating items to charitable organizations, don't forget to ask for a receipt for tax purposes.
  • Anyone who sends a credit card number via e-mail is asking for trouble!

Ask in [Ask somebody in] When you ask somebody in, you invite someone into your house, office etc.

  • Don't leave them standing on the doorstep; ask them in!
  • Ask her in; I want to talk to her.

Ask out [Ask somebody out] When you ask somebody out, you ask somebody to go to the theatre, a restaurant, etc, with you. Take out

  • Jerry's too scared to ask her out. tt Have you asked her out yet?
  • This is the third time he's asked me out.
  • Do men like it when women ask them out?

Ask over [Ask somebody over] When you ask somebody over, you invite them to your house.

  • I'll ask her over to dinner next weekend.
  • If you can't face travelling, especially if you have very young children, why not ask them over to yours.

Ask round [Ask somebody round] When you ask somebody round, you invite them to your house.

  • Let's ask them round for a meal next week.
  • I asked her round for dinner last week but she declined.

Auction off [Auction something off] (furniture) When you auction something off, you get rid of it by selling it at an auction.

  • I sold two of the houses we never used and auctioned off the furniture.
  • She auctioned off all the jewelry that he gave her.



For other verbs and to get more examples search the Generator.