If you're learning English, you may get tripped up on certain phrases that aren't meant to be taken literally. These phrases can be really difficult to decipher and make communication difficult, especially when dealing with freelance clients or freelancers.
Understanding how to use these phrases properly in context is a powerful way to boost your ability to speak naturally. Practice using them in different situations so you get comfortable saying them without having to think too hard. Try not to revert to simple phrases and really push yourself to use these phrasal verbs to take your vocabulary to the next level.
1. To figure out—Figuring something out means finding an answer or solving something. You might figure out the answer to a crossword puzzle or figure out what you'd like to order from a pizza restaurant.
I'll figure out the schedule for the next few weeks and get back to you.
2. To shop around—Shopping around means not deciding on the spot but taking the time to consider your options. It does not literally mean shopping as in buying something, but you could "shop around" if someone at a store asked if you were interested in buying something.
We need a designer, but let's shop around before going with this one.
3. To write up—This one is pretty straightforward. To write something up is to take note of it. Actually, this bonus phrasal verb means the same thing: to note down!
Please write up the notes on this meeting so we remember what we discussed.
4. To think over—To think over goes hand in hand with to shop around. When you think something over, you consider it for some time before making a decision.
This is a big decision! Give me some time to think it over.
5. To ask around—This one means to gather opinions from a bunch of people. You might be curious how many of your friends have been to Italy so you'll ask around to figure it out (aha! bringing back the first phrase).
We love this logo. Let's ask around to see if everyone can tell what it is.
6. To drop by—When you drop by, you stop in somewhere to visit for a short time. There's no literal dropping needed! Unless you plan to skydive into an event.
If you can't stay for the entire meeting, feel free to drop by for a few minutes.
7. To call back—To return a phone call. When you call someone back, you call them after they called you in order to reply. Back here is in reference to the past.
Hopefully they call us back about this proposal or we'll have to find someone else.
8. To run by or past—A tricky one! This isn't so intuitive. When you run something by someone, you check it with them to verify information. You might run a time by a colleague to see if they'll be available for a meeting.
Your work is fantastic. Let me run it by my team lead to be sure we're good to move forward.
9. To zero in on—Another trickster. To zero in on is to hone in on, to focus on, to look closely at, to select from a group.
I really want to zero in on our target audience more to make our marketing more effective.
10. To come across—When you come across something, you stumble upon it, you find it, you happen upon it by chance.
I searched around and came across the perfect platform to develop our backend on.
Hopefully these examples have been helpful and you'll now feel more comfortable communicating with more nuanced English.