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.

Conversation Ideas: Pet Hates

Sometimes when I’m practising Spanish, I don’t want to talk about the same things all the time, so I try to ask interesting and different questions to get to know people better.

One of the most interesting things I like find out about new people I meet are the little things in their everyday lives that annoy them. We call them ‘pet hates’. Why do we call them that? Because they are little things in our everyday lives that we ‘love to hate’.

These are different to #FirstWorldProblems, on which I will do a post ‘down the track’ (Sometime in the future).

When you see something coloured in blue, this is an expression or idiom that is commonly used.

People’s pet hates can be quite funny,! Try asking your language partners what their pet hates are. I’ll give you some examples of mine:

  • Drivers who don’t indicate when changing lanes
  • People who walk too slowly at the shopping centre (Australian word for plaza/mall)
  • Cuando mi compañero de casa/piso pone su plato sucio sobre el lavaplatos vacío (¡Por si encuentra esto!)

Okay, I’ve succeeded in pissing myself off by thinking about all these things that I hate!

I’m done for the night!

Tell me your pet hates below and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive these updates for your morning breakfast in your email.

The Cookie Chef

English idioms: Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Speaking with people from other time zones daily basis has its challenges. It means we are often awake for half the night practising, but then we need to get up early for school or work.

We call this ‘burning the candle at both ends’.

This is a great idiom to learn when you are working so hard that you are not leaving yourself enough time to rest.

Last night I ‘pulled an all-nighter’ (stayed awake all night) practising and I realised that I was burning the candle at both ends.

Example of use: 


A: “You seem really tired, you look terrible!”
B: “Yes, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends preparing for an exam.”


A: “I work for 10 hours during the day, then I come home and study until after midnight.”
B: “You should get some more sleep, you are burning the candle at both ends.”

On that note, I will take my own advice and go to bed!


The Cookie Chef