Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you know how many ways the phrasal verb ‘check out’ is used?

It has five different meanings!

Today, we answer a listener’s question and show how to use this phrasal verb.

Listen in and learn which meanings are most useful.

Phrasal verbs to check out

Aubrey asks Lindsay if there are any restaurants in Denver that she wants to check out.

Lindsay says that Denver is not really a big food city, so she won’t be going out to dine.

Instead, she plans to go to the movies.

Aubrey shares that she plans to check out a new taco place after her daughter’s soccer game.

Today’s episode is inspired by a listener’s question about phrasal verbs with ‘check.’

Today’s question

Grammar episodes are really my favorite! Always exciting to listen to these great episodes and learn something new from you guys. So, THANK YOU!! I also have a grammar question. I was wondering if you can break down the usage of the phrasal verbs “check out”, “check in” and “check on”. They all sound very similar to me but I’ve noticed native speakers use them in different ways. Thanks again!

From Youtube – @ludyyyyyy

So many phrasal verbs!

All three of these phrasal verbs are used extremely often and are great for connection in English.

Lindsay and Aubrey will be doing a three-part series to answer this question.

Today, the focus will be on ‘check out.’

Check this out

Phrasal verbs can be tricky to use because they can mean so many things.

‘Check out’ has multiple meanings, so Lindsay and Aubrey will be sharing each with examples.

#1: Find out information

‘Check out’ can mean to find out information or make sure that everything is correct or satisfactory.

I need my mechanic to check out this car before I decide whether to buy it.
Wherever we go, my dog always runs around to check the place out.

#2: Look at or notice

‘Check out’ can also mean look at or notice.

This is often used to ask someone to watch something.

It is also used in the dating world, meaning to look at someone.

Check out this video on YouTube!
That guy is totally checking you out.

#3: Proving true or correct

This phrasal verb can also mean something is being proven true or correct.

Her claim didn’t check out once we looked into it.
We’ll see if that checks out.

#4: Settling a hotel bill

You’ll often hear this phrasal verb when someone is settling a hotel bill before leaving.

We need to check out before 4.
I’ll go check us out and meet you at the car.

#5: Pay or borrow

This means to pay for or borrow something.

I need to check out some books at the library.
Cashiers at this store are always so friendly as they check out items.


Our roleplay shows how these meanings are used in conversation.

‘Check out’ is used throughout the conversation to give an idea on how to use them.

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Aubrey are talking about a book.

Aubrey: Hey, check out this book I found at the library.
Lindsay: Looks interesting.
Aubrey: I checked it out yesterday and am almost finished.
Lindsay: Nice. I actually left a library book in my hotel last weekend!
Aubrey: Oh no!
Lindsay: Yeah, I went to check out and left it in the lobby.
Aubrey: Can they send it to you?
Lindsay: Yes, they’re mailing it! I had checked out reviews before our trip and saw good feedback about their customer service and now I know it totally checks out!

‘Check out’ in conversation

Aubrey started the conversation by using ‘check out’ with the most common meaning, telling Lindsay to look at an interesting book.

She then continues to use a different meaning, which is buying the book from the store.

Then Lindsay used ‘check out’ to share that she was at a hotel and forgot her book.

She used it again to mean gathering information and to see if something is true.


Phrasal verbs can be difficult when many of them have so many different meanings.

This breakdown of ‘check out’ can help you understand it and use it to connect in English.

Lindsay and Aubrey recommend starting with the first and second meanings.

These are the most common ways of using ’check out.’

Both can be used to start a conversation and make connections with English speakers at work or in your personal life.

Do you know other phrasal verbs with ‘check?’

Share one in the comments!

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