Phrasal verbs in action: possessions
Here are 5 very commonly used phrasal verbs which you can use when talking about your personal possessions.
- to pick (something) up = to buy something quickly and often without much consideration
EXPLANATION: Tourists often don’t have time to plan what they’re going to buy as a souvenir of their trip. They usually just see something they like and make a spontaneous decision to buy it. Whenever people buy things impulsively or casually like this, we can say that they picked up something or picked something up.
EXAMPLE: “Do you like my new scarf? I picked it up at this fantastic market when I visited Marrakech.”
QUESTION: When did you last pick something up as a souvenir while travelling to a new place?
- to hold on (to something) = to keep (for a long time)
EXPLANATION: There are things we buy or have that we become very attached to. They gain personal value to us and we don’t want to throw them away even if they are old or broken. We hold on to them. Some people keep these kinds of belongings forever. For example, a gift from a grandparent, a child or something you bought that reminds you of an important event or time.
EXAMPLE: “I have always held on to my favourite books from my childhood. I hope to give them to my children one day.”
QUESTION: Have you got a meaningful possession that you intend to hold on to for a long time?
- hand down / pass on = to give something to someone of the next generation
EXPLANATION: Some parents still have belongings from their childhood and so hand them down to their own kids. This is a nice gesture and means that objects of value are kept within the family. For instance, the same furniture could be handed down/passed on from a grandparent to a parent and then the grandchild. Some families often hand down clothes from an older sibling to a younger one. These are called ‘hand-me-downs’.
EXAMPLE: “We have an antique clock that has been passed down through the generations and has been in our family for many years.”
QUESTION: Have you ever received something which has been handed down to you from an older relative?
- wear out/up = to use/wear something so much that it becomes damaged
EXPLANATION: We often have a favourite item of clothing or pair of shoes that we wear so often that it becomes faded or gets holes in it. In other words, it gets worn out/up and you can’t wear it any more. This is especially true with children who often wear their clothes/shoes out quite quickly. Or sometimes it happens because the quality of the clothes/shoes is not very good and therefore not long-lasting.
EXAMPLE: “I can’t believe those shoes are worn out already. We only bought them 2 months ago!”
QUESTION: Have you ever had a pair of shoes or item of clothing which got worn out/up very quickly? Why did this happen?
- pack up = to put all your belongings in boxes or bags
EXPLANATION: When you move to a new house or apartment, you have to pack up all your possessions by putting them in boxes or bags so that they are easier to transport. Valuable or fragile items are often wrapped up in special plastic before they are packed up to prevent them from breaking. When you arrive to your new house or apartment, everything has to be unpacked.
EXAMPLE: “I can’t wait to move to our new house but I’m not looking forward to packing up everything. It will take ages!”
QUESTION: How many times have you had to pack up all your belongings in order to move to a new place?