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Are You Hungry for Food Phrasals? Part 1


Everyday Grammar: Food Phrasal Verbs, Part 1
Are You Hungry for Food Phrasals? Part 1
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Today’s program is about phrasal verbs related to food and eating. You’ll recall that a phrasal verb is a verb made of two or more words: a verb and a preposition or adverb, or both.

A great way to learn the meanings of phrasal verbs is to hear how they may be used in real life. Listen to these two people talk to each other. You will hear seven phrasal verbs dealing with food and eating. Try to find them and guess their meanings:

Jamie: Hi, Lauren!

Lauren: Hey, Jamie, good to see you. How’s it going?

Jamie: It’s going…okay. I’m on my second week of the 30-Day Good Food Diet. And…it’s been hard! I’ve cut out sugar, grains and processed foods. Now, I snack on things like fruit or…nuts in between meals.

Lauren: I’ve been hearing a lot about that diet! But, it would be impossible for me to give up chocolate for 30 days. Impossible.

Jamie: Well, my weakness is noodles. I’ve been dreaming of the ramen from Noodle House. But, this month, I can’t eat out much.

Lauren: Noodle House! We used to live on ramen noodles back in our college days! Remember?

Jamie and Lauren used to eat a lot of ramen noodles in their college days.
Jamie and Lauren used to eat a lot of ramen noodles in their college days.

Jamie: Yes! Well, anyway, the good news is that my favorite dress fits again. But, honestly, I’m looking forward to day 31!

Lauren: Me too! Let’s pig out to celebrate!

Jamie: Uh… that would defeat the purpose. I think those pig out days are over for me. But I remember when we used to wolf down huge pizzas in our dorm.

Lauren: Oh, come on, Jamie. Live a little!

Did you find all seven food-related phrasal verbs?

Cut out (something)
Cut (something) out

The first one was cut out. To cut out a food means to stop eating it completely. Jamie has cut out unhealthy foods for her 30-day diet.

Cut out is separable. That means the object may go after the verb, or it may appear in the middle of it. Here’s Jamie using the verb cut out with the object appearing after the verb:

“I’ve cut out sugar, grains and processed foods.”

The object is: sugar, grains and processed foods. And here’s the same sentence with the object in the middle:

“I’ve cut sugar, grains and processed foods out.”

Note that we usually only separate the words of a phrasal verb when the object is not too long.

Jamie has cut sugar out of her diet for 30 days.
Jamie has cut sugar out of her diet for 30 days.

Cut down on (something)

A similar phrasal verb that Jamie and Lauren did not use is cut down on. This verb has three words, instead of just two.

To cut down on a food means to decrease the amount of it that you eat. Here’s an example:

“I’ve cut down on dairy to help lower my cholesterol.”

Notice that the object dairy comes after cut down on. That’s because cut down on is inseparable. The object must go after the verb.

Snack on (something)

Okay, our next verb is snack on. To snack on something means to eat a small amount of it between meals.

Since last week, Jamie has been snacking on healthy foods:

“Now, I snack on things like fruit or…nuts in between meals.”

The verb snack on is inseparable. And, unfortunately, Jamie won’t be separated from her fruit and nuts any time soon!

Give up (something)
Give (something) up

Next, we have give up. To give up something means to stop having, doing or using it. Lauren refuses to give up chocolate, so she is not interested in trying the diet.

Give up is separable. Listen to Lauren use the verb with the object chocolate appearing after it:

“But, it would be impossible for me to give up chocolate for 30 days. Impossible.”

And with the object in the middle:

“But, it would be impossible for me to give chocolate up for 30 days. Impossible.”

Well, maybe not impossible.

Lauren says that she could not give up chocolate for 30 days.
Lauren says that she could not give up chocolate for 30 days.


Eat out

Now, let’s talk about an easy one: eat out. To eat out means to eat at a restaurant, not at a home. Eat out is an inseparable verb.

And Jamie isn’t eating out a lot during her diet. She tells Lauren:

“But, this month, I can’t eat out much.”

Hmm…I wonder what she’ll make for dinner?

Live on (something)

The next phrasal verb is live on. To live on a food means to have a specific food as the only or main food that you eat. Jamie and Lauren lived on ramen noodles in college:

“We used to live on ramen noodles back in our college days! Remember?”

The verb live on is inseparable. And Jamie is still dreaming of ramen.

Pig out
Pig out on (something)

Ok, now we have pig out. Think about the way pigs eat. Do they eat a lot? Of course! So, to pig out means to eat a lot of food at one time. It is very informal, which is why you heard it used between two friends. Lauren said:

“Let’s pig out to celebrate!”

Here, Lauren doesn’t mention a specific food.

But, when we use this verb with an object, we must use the preposition on. Listen to an example of Lauren talking about specific foods:

“Let’s pig out on pizza and noodles to celebrate.”

Note that the object – pizza and noodles – comes after the verb, as the verb is inseparable.

Lauren and Jamie used to eat a lot of pizza in their college days.
Lauren and Jamie used to eat a lot of pizza in their college days.

Wolf down (something)
Wolf (something) down

Our last phrasal verb today is wolf down. To wolf down something means to eat something very quickly. It’s another very informal phrasal verb.

Back in college, Jamie and Lauren would wolf down large pizzas:

“But, I remember when we used to wolf down huge pizzas in our dorm.”

Huge pizzas is the object. In the example, it appears after wolf down. But, since this verb is separable, Jamie could have also said this:

“But, I remember when we use to wolf huge pizzas down in our dorm.”

Well, that’s all the time we have today. Join us again soon for more food-related phrasal verbs.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Everyday Grammar. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

preposition - n. a word or group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object

adverb - n. a word that describes a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or a sentence and that is often used to show time, manner, place, or degree

guess - v. to form an opinion or give an answer about something when you do not know much or anything about it

dorm / dormitory - n. a building on a school campus that has rooms where students can live

specific - adj. precise or exact

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