No Brexit For Phrasal Verbs

Although I cannot provide any satisfactory explanation of the thinking (or lack of thinking) that inspired 17.4 million citizens of the United Kingdom to vote to leave the EU, I hope that the following exercise will help students of the English language (which, happily, seems destined to remain part of Europe) to better understand the frenzied debate that the referendum has provoked.


A. Match the verbs in heavy type to the synonyms provided below.

1) David Cameron has said he will stand down as prime minister.

2) Whoever takes over as leader will not have an easy job.

3) It is clear that many people did not think through the implications of voting for Brexit.

4) The government has ruled out the possibility of a second referendum.

5) Boris Johnson has decided not to run for the Conservative leadership.

6) For many people it is only now beginning to sink in that leaving the EU will cause all kinds of problems.

7) Ireland’s foreign minister has asked Britons to hold off applying for Irish passports.

8) The result is a big disappointment but it’s a reality and we have to face up toit.

9) Mrs Merkel urged Britain to set out plans for leaving as soon as possible.

10) It is almost inevitable that unemployment will nowgo up.

11) They said that leaving the EU would free up £350 million a week to spend on the Health Service.

12) It will be difficult for them to stand by their promise to cut immigration.


a) accept and respond to

b) become clear

c) consider in detail

d) describe, make clear

e) excluded

f) increase

g) is the replacement

h) not abandon

i) make available

j) resign, quit

k) stand for election to

l) wait before


B. Use the phrasal verbs from the sentences above to complete the following:

1) There’s a real risk now that inflation will _______________.

2) A good friend is someone who will _______________ you when you are in trouble.

3) By treating certain patients at home, they have been able to _______________ beds in hospitals.

4) He’s very angry about losing his job but there’s nothing to be done; he just has to _______________ it.

5) I suggest you _______________ buying it until your financial situation improves.

6) In a letter to the press, a number of experts _______________ their reasons for opposing the proposal.

7) It’s important to _______________ all the possible consequences before making a decision.

8) Roy Hodgson has resigned as England manager and it is not yet clear who will _______________.

9) The chairman was asked to _______________ as a result of his involvement in the financial scandal.

10) When Trump first announced he would _______________ the Presidency, nobody took him seriously.

11) You can never _______________ the possibility of rain in England.

12) The enormity of what she has done is starting to _______________ .




1)j 2)g 3)c 4)e 5)k 6)b 7)l 8)a 9)d 10)f 11)i 12)h



1) go up 2) stand by 3) free up 4) face up to 5) hold off 6) set out 7) think through 8) take over 9) stand down 10) run for 11) rule out 12) sink in