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

Today you’ll learn 7 native phrases that all have the word ‘turn.’

We’ll teach you the difference between these phrasal verbs.

Find out how to sound more like a native and less like a student.

This is how you can score 7+ on IELTS Speaking.

Phrasal verbs are one of the most difficult things about the English language.

You need to learn how to understand them and how to use them.

For more tips and tricks, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS.

Where do phrasal verbs come up on IELTS?


You could hear them on the Listening exam.

You will see them in Reading passages.

You need to use them on Speaking to meet that idiomatic language requirement.

The Examiner is listening for correct usage of phrasal verbs.

You will also use them for informal letters on general training Writing Task 1.

However, avoid using them on IELTS Writing Task 2 and Academic Task 1, because they are more informal than other verbs.

Pro tip!

Don’t memorize lists of verbs.

Think about the context of these and how you can use them when answering IELTS Speaking questions.

Choose 3-4 of today’s verbs that are new to you.

Add them to your vocabulary notebook.

Plan to use these on IELTS Speaking!

#1: To turn in

You likely have heard this used “to turn in” an assignment.

This means to give an assignment to a teacher so they can grade it.

However, there is a native, slang way to use it.

  • To turn in: to go to bed

I’m going to turn in early. I’ve had a rough day.

Questions come up often on IELTS Speaking about sleep routines.

Use this phrasal verb instead of “go to sleep.”

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#2: To turn on

You’ve likely heard this used to “turn on” lights or applicances.

However, we still hear students mistakenly say “open the lights,” as many languages would directly translate to that.

Idiomatically, we use this to mean increasing energy.

We need some energy in this meeting, so turn on the energy!

I’m feeling tired. I need to turn it on.

#3: To turn up

We use this to mean increasing sound or volume.

However, we use it idiomatically as well to mean increasing excitement or energy.

Let’s turn up the energy!

On IELTS, if talking about daily routines, sleep, work or studies:

You know what? I need to drink coffee in the morning to turn up my energy level.

#4: To turn out

  • To turn out: to produce

This often has to do with content.

We turn out 3 podcast episodes every week!

A second meaning is an outcome, result or consequence.

This cake didn’t turn out very well.

This is a very native way to introduce the outcome of a series of events.

It turned out that the show was great and everyone loved it!

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but it was great!

#5 To turn into

This also means “to become.”

Any change can be described as how something turned into something else.

I am turning into a more relaxed person than I used to be.

I would love to turn into the type of person that exercises every day, but I’m not sure that will happen.

This is great for questions you don’t have a lot to talk about.

  • Museum questions
  • Sports questions

Maybe one day I’ll turn into the type of person that visits museums often.

Bonus expression: It turned into a whole thing!

Natives often say this when describing a situation that became chaotic.

No one got the message that the show was canceled, and it turned into a whole thing!

Use this on IELTS any time you’re describing a situation that was confusing or problematic.

Describe the situation and then say this phrase after.

Then we didn’t know what to do , because it turned into a whole thing!


Phrasal verbs are a great way to use idiomatic language on IELTS Speaking.

Not only that, but you will likely see them on the Listening and Reading exams.

You also need to be able to use them correctly to help achieve an informal tone on letters to friends.

Choose a few of today’s phrasal verbs to add to your vocabulary notebook.

Practice using them when answering IELTS Speaking questions!

To find out what you’d get if you took IELTS today, go to

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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