Phrasal Verbs: BACK

Everyone tells me that they have trouble learning phrasal verbs. In my first post about phrasal verbs, I mentioned that you need to learn the expressions as a whole, and try to think of stories or pictures to go with them.

Therefore I will start creating regular posts with a few phrasal verbs with a common word and an image to remember.

Today’s phrasal verbs are:

Back away

To escape by moving backwards if you are afraid or disgusted.

e.g. “He backed away slowly from the snake to avoid being bitten.”


Back off

To withdraw from confrontation or action.

e.g. “The bully at school was harassing me so I told him to ‘back off‘.”

e.g. “Back off or someone’s gonna get hurt.” (heard on the street)

Back down

Similar to ‘back off’. To withdraw from a confrontation or action.cancel an action but also to admit defeat or give up. (Think of how you move when you admit defeat: backwards and down.)


e.g. “I will never back down from a fight.”

Back up

Two meanings:

  1. To provide support or give encouragement. (Think of how a book is supported on a shelf or you support an exhausted friend, by pushing them up from the back.)

    e.g. “When I meet with my boss tomorrow, I know my colleagues will back me up.”

    e.g. “Even though they fought often at home, the boy would always back up his little sister at school.”

  2. To save a file or folder in another place to avoid it being lost.

    e.g. “I lost all my homework because the power went out and I hadn’t backed up my files.”

    e.g. “Make sure you back up your work to the server at the end of every day before you leave the office.”

Multiple Wired to Backup

One extra point: There is also a noun “backup” (one word) which refers to the copy of the file/folder or an alternative.

e.g. “Make sure you have a backup plan if plan A doesn’t work.”.

e.g. “I have a backup copy of the report on my USB stick.”

Try to use some of these phrasal verbs in your sentences this week!

The Cookie Chef.


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