Phrasal verbs for describing how hard we are working or studying

One morning in early January, I met a friend in a café and told her that I was easing myself back into work after the holidays. By using this phrase ‘to ease myself (back) into work’, I meant that I was slowly starting to work again after a period without work (I planned to answer a few emails and get in touch with a couple of colleagues – not exactly hard work!). I added that I fully intended to knuckle down the following week, meaning that I planned to start working hard that week. Funnily enough, I could also have used the rhyming phrasal verb buckle down here, which means the same thing. After using these two phrases I started to think about all the other phrasal verbs that we use to describe how much or how little we are working or studying and decided to use this post to share them with you.

We use a number of slightly informal phrasal verbs to mean ‘to work or study hard and in a determined way’. For example, we might say that someone is plugging away or (UK) beavering away: I’ve been plugging away at this report all day, hoping to get it finished./She’s been beavering away at her essay since eight o’clock this morning. The particle ‘away’ here means ‘continuously, or in a busy way’ and is sometimes used after other informal verbs that mean ‘work’, such asslog, slave or (UK) graft to emphasize that someone is working hard for a long period: I’ve been slaving away all day./He’s been slogging away in his office./He’s spent so long grafting away on the same piece of work.

If the amount of work that we have to do is increasing a lot – perhaps because we haven’t been working enough recently – we might say it is piling up: Exams are approaching and the work is starting to pile up. If, after a period of too much work, the amount of work decreases a little so that we can now deal with it more easily, we might say it eases up or eases off: I’ve had too much work these last three months but it’s starting to ease off now.

If we have too little paid work for a period but then we start to get more work, we might say work is starting to pick up: Work was quite quiet for a period but, thankfully, it’s just starting to pick up.

Source: I’m just easing myself back into work (Phrasal verbs for describing how hard we are working or studying)


To see, to look, to watch… any other verbs to express the idea of sight?

In our daily conversations, we mainly get along with such common words as to see, to look, to watch, to view and some others. But, in fact, there are great many of the verbs that fall into this category. In this article, I’d like to point some of them out and to draw a distinction.

First we will consider such pairs:

To glance – to glimpse

to glance – to give a ​quick short look:

  • He glanced ​nervously at his ​watch.
  • She glanced around the ​room to ​see who was there.

to glimpse – to ​see something or someone for a very ​short ​time or only ​partly, when you do not see the person or thing completely:

  • We glimpsed the ​ruined ​abbey from the ​windows of the ​train.

*As a noun this word is often used in the expression to catch a glimpse of (someone or something):

  • I only caught a glimpse of it, but I think it was a badger.

To stare – to gaze

to stare – to ​look at smn/smth for a ​long ​time with the ​eyes ​wide ​open:

  • Don’t stare at ​people like that, it’s ​rude.
  • He just stared ​blankly at me.

to gaze –  to ​look at something or someone for a ​long ​time, ​especially in ​surprise or ​admiration, or because you are ​thinking about something ​else:

  • Kate gazed ​admiringly at Will as he ​spoke.
  • She gazed in ​admiration at his ​broad, ​muscular ​shoulders.

*When referred to “someone”, to gaze does have a romantic sense, but when referred to something, it may simply have a sense of tranquillity, remarkability, astonishment.

To skim – to scan

to skim – to ​read or ​consider something ​quickly in ​order to ​understand the ​main ​points, without ​studying it in ​detail:

  • I’ve only skimmed (through/over) his ​letter; I haven’t ​read it ​carefully ​yet.

to scan – to ​look through a ​text ​quickly in ​order to ​find a ​piece of ​information that you ​want or to get a ​general ​idea of what the ​text ​contains:

  • I scanned through the ​booklet but couldn’t ​find the ​address.

To peek – to peep

to peek – to ​look for a ​short ​time secretly or trying to ​avoid being ​seen, especially from a hidden place:

  • Close ​your ​eyes. Don’t peek. I’ve got a ​surprise for you.
  • I peeked out the ​window to ​see who was there.

to peep –  to ​secretly ​look at something for a ​longer ​time, usually through a ​hole:

  • I ​saw her peeping through the ​curtains/into the ​room.

*this verb is usually used in the progressive form: “he was peeping” or “We are peeping” – which adds to the idea of a longer length of time.

To wink – to blink

to wink –  to ​close one ​eye for a ​short ​time as a way of ​greeting someone or ​showing ​friendliness, ​sexual ​interest, etc., or of ​showing that you are not ​serious about something you have said:

  • Laura winked at me as Stephen ​turned his back.
  • For a second I ​thought he was being ​serious, but then he winked at me.

to blink – to open and close the eye (-s), especially involuntarily; wink rapidly and repeatedly:

  • I blinked at the harsh morning light.
  • You’ve got something in ​your ​eye – ​try blinking a few ​times.

Some others:

to peer – to ​look ​carefully or with ​difficulty:

  • When no one ​answered the ​door, she peered through the ​window to ​see if anyone was there.
  • The ​driver was peering into the ​distance ​trying to ​read the ​road ​sign.

to eye – to ​look at someone or something with ​interest:

  • I could ​see her eyeing my ​lunch.
  • She eyed me ​warily.

to gape – to ​look in ​great ​surprise at someone or something, ​especially with an ​open ​mouth:

  • They ​stood gaping at the ​pig in the ​kitchen.

to squint – to ​partly ​close ​your ​eyes in ​order to ​see more ​clearly:

  • The ​sun was ​shining ​straight in her ​eyes and made her squint.

Hope, it will come in handy!


Top 5 talk-shows to watch in English

From my perspective, watching talk-shows in English is a perfect way to learn this language, because it is not only entertaining but informative as well, thus you realize two goals through a single action.
I have made out a list of the talk-shows that I like and often watch. Hope, it will come in handy.

  1. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (the USA).
    The show opens with Fallon’s topical monologue, then transitions into comedic sketches/games, concluding with a guest interview and musical performance. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has attracted high ratings since its 2014 premiere, consistently beating competition. In addition, many moments from the series have originated viral videos. Following the monologue, the main segments are a mix of interviews and performances—examples of the latter include musical impressions, lip-syncing contests, games of Pictionary and egg Russian roulette.Benedict-Cumberbatch-Tonight-Show-426x351
  2. The Ellen DeGeneres Show (the USA).
    The program combines comedy, games, celebrity, musical guests and human-interest stories. The program often features audience participation games where prizes are awarded.12
  3. The Graham Norton Show (British).
    A British comedy chat show broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom.1280x720-Jkr
  4. The Late Late Show with James Corden (the USA).
    An American late-night talk show hosted by James Corden on CBS. Carpool Karaoke and Talking Mentalist episodes are especially popular.tom-hanks-the-late-late-show-slice-600x200
  5. Late Night with Seth Meyers (the USA).latenightseth

Some others:

  1. Alan Carr: Chatty Man (British);
  2. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (the USA).

Watch & enjoy!