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  • Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.  

  • Are you ready to learn something  weird? Let's talk about it

  • Do you love phrasal verbs? A phrasal verb istwo-part verb, like try out or give up. And a  

  • lot of English learners feel a little bit stressed  about phrasal verbs. Today, I would like to help  

  • relieve some of the stress by having some fun  and slightly weird phrasal verbs that we use  

  • in daily conversation in English, and that you  can use too, and hopefully have a little laugh

  • I chose these phrasal verbs because I felt like  they're a little bit unusual, and the base verb,  

  • like to give up or try out, give or try, islittle bit different than what you would normally  

  • guess it should mean. So make sure that you  pay attention to these weird phrasal verbs,  

  • because at the end of this lesson, there's a test. Let's get started with the first one. To squirrel  

  • away. I'm not going to tell you immediately what  this means. Instead, I'm going to tell you a  

  • sample sentence and I'd like you to guess what  you think it means. Well, I bought some Christmas  

  • presents in October and I squirreled them away  until December. Hmm. Do you know what a squirrel  

  • is? It's this animal, and a squirrel is known for  hiding its food until the winter. So during the  

  • warm months, during the summer, it finds acorns  and walnuts and any kind of nut, and it buries  

  • it in the ground. It hides it for the winter time. So, we can take this same concept and imagine what  

  • this phrasal verb means. You are hiding something  until you need to use it. You could say, "He  

  • squirrels away his money in a hole in the ground."  This is kind of more literally like a squirrel,  

  • right? But it's that same concept, that  you are hiding it until you need it

  • Weird phrasal verb number two is to scarf  down. Hmm, a scarf is usually something that  

  • you wear on your neck to keep you warm in  the winter, but what if I said this to you,  

  • "I was so hungry that I just scarfed down  my food." Hmm? Are you eating a scarf?  

  • Are you cooking a scarf? No. Instead, this  means that you're eating something quickly.  

  • You are scarfing it down. This is similar to  another phrasal verb, to gobble up your food.  

  • So, you could say, "I woke up so late  that I had to scarf down my breakfast  

  • while I brushed my hair," or, "I woke up so late  that I had to gobble up my breakfast while I was  

  • brushing my hair." This idea of eating quickly  because you're so hungry or out of necessity

  • Our next weird phrasal verb is to beef up. HmmBeef is a type of meat from a cow. What if I  

  • said this, "I wanted to beef up my wafflesso I added some dark chocolate and berries."  

  • Beef on waffles sounds awful, but the good news  is that this phrasal verb has nothing to do with  

  • meat. Instead, it means that you're increasing or  you're improving something. I wanted to improve my  

  • waffles, so I added some dark chocolate and  berries and mixed it up, and then I made my  

  • waffles. This is definitely improving my wafflesOr we could say, "The security was beefed up  

  • during the presidential speech." So whenever  there is an important public figure who is  

  • giving a speech and there's common people aroundwell, there's probably more security than normal,  

  • so we could say, "The security was beefed up  during the presidential speech." So it was  

  • increased during the presidential speech. Our next weird phrasal verb is to butt in.  

  • Do you know what a butt is? It's your backsideWe can imagine here, butt in. Hmm. Look at this  

  • sentence. The annoying guy at the party kept  butting in and talking about himself. So annoying.  

  • He kept butting in. Is he pushing people with  his butt? I hope not. This is the literal sense,  

  • but figuratively, we can imagine that  he is interrupting with his words

  • Sometimes this is okay or necessary, but if you do  it too much, it can be really annoying. We can use  

  • this as an informal way to apologize or interrupt  someone in a more polite way. If you say,  

  • "Sorry for butting in, but can you tell me where  the bathroom is?" So if you're at someone's house  

  • and some people are talking and you're not part  of that conversation, well, if you need to ask  

  • them a question, you're going to need to interrupt  them. So how can you interrupt them in a polite,  

  • but kind of casual way? You could say this phraseYou could say, "Sorry to butt in, but where's your  

  • restroom? Where's your bathroom?" Sorry to butt  in. Sorry to interrupt, and that's very polite.  

  • Just don't butt in too much or you'll be like  that first annoying guy who butted in too much

  • The next weird phrasal verb is to chicken outAre you taking a chicken and throwing it out of  

  • the house? No. Instead, look at this sentence.  I wanted to go skydiving, but I chickened out  

  • at the last second. Hmm. This means that I was  at the skydiving place, I was all hooked up,  

  • and then I saw the airplane and  I looked up in the sky and said,  

  • "No way. I can't do it. I chickened out." HmmThat means that I was too scared to do something

  • Usually this phrase is used in a negative  way when we're talking about someone else.  

  • If you said this sentence, maybe your sister  would feel a little bit embarrassed. "My sister  

  • said that she would sing at karaoke, but when it  came to be her turn, she chickened out." Hmm. This  

  • kind of implies that you think her fear is  irrational. It's kind of like a stupid fear.  

  • "Why did you chicken out? I wouldn't chicken out  if I sang karaoke. Why did you?" So if you say  

  • this about someone else, make sure that you say  it lightly with a light heart. But of course, you  

  • could say it about yourself, "Yeah, I chickened  out before I went skydiving," and it's much  

  • softer because you're just talking about yourself. Our next weird phrasal verb is to clam up.  

  • Do you know what a clam is? It's this thing. It's  got two sides of a shell, and what happens if it  

  • clams up? Take a look at this sentence. The robber  clammed up when the detective asked him where he  

  • hid the money. So someone, the robber, has stolen  money and the detective is trying to figure out  

  • where it is. Well, do you think that the robber  is telling him where he hid the money or is he  

  • clamming up? He is keeping the information  inside him. He is hiding that information

  • So we're using the phrasal verb clam up to mean  that your mouth is closed. You are not telling  

  • some information. Or in a more lighthearted waywe could say, "My sister clammed up when I asked  

  • her where my favorite dress was." Hmm. Maybe  I suspect that she took my favorite dress and  

  • either it got ripped, something happened to it, it  got a big stain and she's embarrassed to tell me  

  • about it, or she's scared to tell me about it. So  when I ask her, "Hey, what happened to my favorite  

  • dress? It's not in my closet," maybe my sister  closes her mouth and says nothing. She clams up

  • The next weird phrasal verb is to flip out. You  might say, "My mom is going to flip out when she  

  • realizes what happened to her dishes." Maybe we  threw a ball in the house and all of her dishes  

  • crashed and broke. Oh no. Do you think my mom is  going to say, "Oh, that's okay. We'll just buy  

  • some new dishes." No, she's going to flip outThat means that she is going to get very angry

  • Now, we can use this in a positive sense to say  really excited and it all depends on the context.  

  • Let's take a look at another sentence. I  flipped out when I realized that my team won the  

  • championship. Am I really angry that my team wonNo, of course, I'm really excited. So here, we're  

  • talking about that loss of control of your  emotions. You're not in control of your emotions  

  • anymore. You're either really angry, "Oh, you  broke my dishes. My mom is going to freak out," or  

  • flip out. We use both of these interchangeablyor I'm losing control of my emotions in a  

  • positive way. "I flipped out when my team won." We can, like I said, exchange the phrasal verb,  

  • freak out. This is a little bit stronger. "I  freaked out," and it's maybe a little bit more  

  • crass. This means a little bit more rude than  flip out. I would say that, first, flip out is  

  • more normal in daily conversation and freak out is  a little bit more rude. Not really rude, but just  

  • a little bit more, but they both have a similar  meaning. You're losing control of your emotions

  • Our next weird phrasal verb is to gross outMake sure that you pronounce this word correctly,  

  • gross, gross. You could say, "I was grossed  out when my cat threw up on my shoe."  

  • This is disgusting. It's not a good  situation. I was grossed out. I went,  

  • "Oh, that's not good." I was grossed out. Or if  you have a younger or older brother, you might  

  • say, "My brother is always trying to find new  ways to gross me out. He thinks it's so funny,  

  • but I don't." He's trying to make me feel  disgusted, maybe showing me different worms  

  • that he finds or different strange things that  he's doing. He thinks it's entertaining, but I  

  • don't think it is. He's trying to gross me out. Our next weird phrasal verb is to lighten up,  

  • to lighten up. Notice the pronunciation of this  word, lighten, lighten. A lot of English learners  

  • ask me about T-E-N at the end of words. This  might be a word like threaten, button, lighten.  

  • I have a whole English lesson about these really  difficult T words in English. You can check out  

  • that lesson up here. I think it's called,  106 Difficult English Words to Pronounce,  

  • and it includes these words. So we're  going to kind of swallow the last sound,  

  • lighten, lighten, to lighten up. Hmm. Take a look at this sentence. The  

  • conversation was getting too serious, sotried to lighten it up with a joke. Hmm. Here  

  • we have a conversation that's very serious and  I want the conversation to become less serious.  

  • Well, the opposite of serious is light. So we're  going to use this phrasal verb. I tried to lighten  

  • the conversation up, lighten it up with a joke. We can also use this phrasal verb to provide some  

  • kind of encouragement to someone else, especially  for situations where they're feeling a little bit  

  • sad, but it's not too serious. So you could  say, "Hey, lighten up. Things could be worse."  

  • So let's imagine that your cat threw  up on your shoe. Pretty gross, right?  

  • Well, maybe your friend says, "Heylighten up. Things could be worse.  

  • Your shoe could be in the middle of a cow pasture  and a cow could have pooped on your shoe." Oh,  

  • that's worse. Oh, that's awful. So your friend  is trying to give some encouragement for this  

  • light, not too serious situation. I definitely do not recommend using this  

  • in a serious situation. So let's imagine that your  friend's dog dies and your friend is really sad.  

  • They're having a really difficult time with thisunderstandably. Dogs can be like family members,  

  • right? Well, if you're trying to comfort  your friend, you should not say, "Hey,  

  • lighten up. Maybe you can find another  dog," or, "Oh, lighten up. Let's go  

  • kick around a soccer ball." This is too serious  of a situation, so I recommend only using it to  

  • comfort someone in a very non-serious, sad momentlike a cat puked on your shoe. You're trying to  

  • make the situation funny because it's not so  serious. So if you are trying to comfort in  

  • a serious situation, you can avoid lighten up. Our next weird phrasal verb is to screw up. Do  

  • you know what a screw is? It's this, something  that you use when you're building something. But  

  • is this phrasal verb related to buildingto screw up? If I say, "Ah, I screwed up,"  

  • does it mean I'm building something? No. Insteadtake a look at this sentence. I screwed up the  

  • recipe and added too much salt. Oh no. This means  that I ruined the recipe. I did something awful  

  • that destroyed my meal. I screwed up the recipe. Or we could simply say, "I screwed it up. Sorry  

  • guys, we're going to have to order pizza, because  the meal I was making is ruined." Or you might  

  • say, "If you screw up, it's best to admit your  mistakes and try to make it better." If you  

  • screw up. Just a little note, this phrasal verb is  very casual, so I do not recommend using this in a  

  • business situation. If you forgot about a project  that you were supposed to have finished at work,  

  • do not say, "Sorry, boss. I screwed up." It's a  little too casual. Maybe if your work atmosphere  

  • is very, very laid back, very casual and relaxedmaybe you could say that, but overall, I recommend  

  • using this only for daily conversations.  "Oh, I screwed up. How can I make it better?" 

  • Our final strange phrasal verb is to space  out. Hmm, space is air or space is outer space,  

  • something beyond the Earth's atmosphere. The  moon, the sun, Mars are in outer space. All of  

  • the stars are in outer space. Hmm, to space  out. Does this mean you are an astronaut?  

  • No. Instead, take a look at this sentence.  I spaced out in class and when the teacher  

  • called on me, I didn't know the answerYou can imagine you're sitting in class.  

  • You're not paying attention. You're just  staring off into space, that's what we say.  

  • Staring off into space and then the teacher  says, "Vanessa, what's the answer?" Oh, oh,  

  • I don't know. You spaced out and you're not  present. Your attention is not in that moment. Or  

  • we could say, "The politician's speech was so long  and boring that almost all of the audience stopped  

  • paying attention and just spaced out." Maybe they  looked into space, so they closed their eyes. Hmm

  • I hope that this lesson was not too boring and  you didn't space out. I hope it was interesting.  

  • If you spaced out, well, now it's time for a testHmm. So I hope that you'll be able to at least  

  • guess some of the correct answers. I'm going to  be telling you three sentences and there will be  

  • a blank in the sentence. You need to guesswhat is the best phrasal verb to go in the