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Popular Dating Phrasal Verbs

For those of you dating (or hoping to date) an English-speaker, you might have noticed that there are several ways to talk about dating. Many of these combinations of words are called phrasal verbs: multi-word verbs that act as one verb.

Phrasal verbs are formed by a verb, followed by 1-2 particles (in general, but not always, prepositions: out, with, to, up, on, etc.). Here are some common examples that you’re probably familiar with: turn off the light; work out (exercise); fall down (fall to the ground). Remember that phrasal verbs are conjugated like regular verbs.

Let’s take a look at some useful dating phrasal verbs!

1. Go out
Meaning: Date
Example: Victor and Stefanie met in high school and have been going out since then. I think they’re going to get married soon.

2. Come on to (someone)
Meaning: To try to attract someone romantically
Example: When I went to Italy last year, men kept coming on to me, even though I told them I have a boyfriend.

3. Make up (with someone)
Meaning: To forgive each other
Example: They were arguing all night, but they made up this morning when they both admitted they were wrong.

4. Fall for (someone)
Meaning: To begin to be in love with someone
Example: I think Charlie’s falling for Jessica, because he keeps sending her flowers and buying her presents.

5. Break up (with someone)
Meaning: End a relationship
Example: Javier and Marie aren’t dating anymore because he broke up with her last week.

The previous phrasal verbs are inseparable, meaning that the verb and particle(s) ALWAYS remain together. For example:
CORRECT: She fell for him instead of his friend.
INCORRECT: She fell him for instead of his friend.

These next two phrasal verbs are separable, meaning that the verb and particle(s) MUST be separated if a pronoun is used, but can remain together OR be separated if a noun is used. For example:
Pronoun: He is checking her out.
Noun: He is checking out Maria. He is checking Maria out.

1. Ask out (someone)
Meaning: Invite on a date
Example: I really like him, I hope he’ll ask me out soon!

2. Check out (someone)
Meaning: Look at with a romantic motive
Example: My friend’s sister is so pretty, I can’t stop checking her out.

TIP: If you’re unsure of whether a phrasal verb is separable or inseparable, DON’T separate it and use a NOUN instead of a pronoun. Then it’ll always be correct!
Example: I asked out Bob on a date yesterday.

Can you think of any other phrasal verbs you use to describe dating? Share with us!


Gabi O’Connor
Gabi is a Pedagogy & Curriculum Fall Associate. She has spent the past several years teaching ESL in Ireland, Spain, France and the U.S., most recently as a Featured/Recommended Tutor for NYC-based startup Tutorspree. Gabi received her BA in English Literature and French Translation at the University of York, her M.Phil. in Popular Literature at Trinity College Dublin, as well as certification from the University of Cambridge TEFL program. Having lived in eleven countries, and learned several languages as a result, she has a passion for expanding her and others’ cultural and language horizons.