Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Phrasal verbs can help you boost your IELTS scores!

Put away your doubts and break out your notes because this is an amazing episode!

We’ll teach you 2 phrasal verbs to boost vocabulary scores on both IELTS Speaking and Writing.

Today’s question

A listener sent in a question that inspired today’s episode.

She asked what the word is for putting away seasonal clothes.

Some people ‘transition’ their wardrobe between seasons.

Most people would just say they put clothes away and then break out items for the new season.

Today we’ll dive into both these phrasal verbs and how you can use them on IELTS.

Why do you need phrasal verbs?

You must use idiomatic language on IELTS Speaking.

Phrasal verbs often help satisfy this requirement.

Many of them are idiomatic and have a very different meaning from the base verb.

This isn’t always the case, as in the following examples:

  • start out
  • finish up

These meant the same as ‘start’ and ‘finish’ and aren’t idiomatic.

However, many phrasal verbs are, including those we’re sharing today.

#1: Put away: store

One meaning is to store something in a container, drawer or closet.

I always put away winter clothing once spring hits.

Can you put away the clean dishes?

It means to put things where they belong.

However, there are many idiomatic meanings as well!

You might be asked in Speaking Part 2 to describe a chore.

In Speaking Part 3, you might be asked about traditional roles.

Traditionally, women are expected to put away clothes and dishes, but luckily my partner believes he should help with this chore.

#2 Put away: eat a lot

This is high scoring because it’s rare for a student to use it in this way.

It’s very idiomatic!

My son is 11-years-old going on 12 and he really puts away the food!

When I made pasta a few nights ago he put away an entire pot of pasta!

You have to describe people a lot on IELTS!

It might come up on general training letters or Speaking Part 2.

I can’t believe how much my friend eats. He can really put it away!

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#3 Put away: scoring a goal

This is usually used for balls in nets, both soccer and basketball.

Everyone was so stoked when I put it away!

This means you put a ball in a net and scored a goal.

#4 Put away: going to jail

In Speaking Part 3 or Writing Task 2 you might be asked about crime and punishment.

For felonies that involve harming other people, I think they should be put away for longer periods of time.

You can also use this as a hypothetical when describing people.

#5 Break out: remove from storage

This is an antonym to the first meaning of the phrasal verb put away.

They are easy to remember in pairs.

I had to break out my daughter’s skates that I put away years ago.

We usually use it to describe something that’s been put away for awhile.

This could be useful for describing a party or special occasion.

I’m going to break out my fanciest dishes for this party!

We almost never use it but I’m breaking it out for this event.

#6 Break out: to begin

We often say a fight or a battle will break out.

A skirmish broke out after the argument.

On Part 2 you might be asked to describe a time you argued with a friend.

This is more for a physical fight but can also describe a verbal argument.

#7 Break out: to become famous

You’re often asked about famous people on IELTS.

Speaking Part 3 might ask about the privacy rights of celebrities.

They really broke out in the early 2000s.

She was the break out star last year.

It’s the idea of someone suddenly becoming famous.

#8 Break out: to escape prison

This is another parallel phrasal verb.

It means the opposite of ‘put away’ meaning be sent to prison.

This could be useful on IELTS if you’re describing a book, television show or movie.

It wasn’t very believable when the criminal broke out of prison.

If asked about something that would be difficult to accomplish, breaking out of prison would be a great example!


Phrasal verbs are extremely useful on IELTS!

They can help you satisfy the requirement of idiomatic language on IELTS Speaking.

Practice using today’s phrasal verbs on practice speaking questions.

They each have multiple idiomatic meanings!

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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