Popular English Phrasal Verb Pairings-Fall Ep 551

A couple falling out with each other. Some of the possible English phrasal verb combinations of the verb fall, and some examples.

📝 Author: Hilary

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The English Lesson That Will Make You Fall In Love With Phrasal Verbs

English phrasal verbs explained. Today, our journey through the many possible phrasal verb combinations continues with the verb fall. We explore the most common use of fall in a phrasal verb, with lots of examples. I’ve included a short quiz at the end of the lesson so you can check if you have grasped the multitude meanings of fall as a phrasal verb. Please start listening before we fall out with each other, and take the quiz at the end of the lesson to check you’ve got it. I hope you spotted that phrasal verb!

Phrasal verbs are a hard part of the English language. There are lots of phrasal verbs and we native English speakers use them all the time. Examples include "fall asleep", "fall in love with" or "fall out with" - the meaning of which can change depending on the context of your intended use.

The only way to learn phrasal verbs is to hear them being used in useful examples, and to understand what the implied meaning is and ultimately remember them. There are so many you really don’t want to learn them all, so as usual we have chosen the most common ones, the examples you are most likely to hear in an everyday English conversation here in the UK. This makes your English language learning time more efficient and relevant. You can say thankyou by clicking the like button!

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.
⭐ Albert Einstein

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Most Unusual Words:

  • Gravitation: The force of attraction between two objects in space, which causes them to come closer to each other.
  • Multitude: A large number of people or things.
  • Preposition: A word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.
  • Psychologically: Relating to the mind and the way people think and feel.
  • Apart: Separate or not together.
  • Metaphoric: Describing something by comparing it to something else, often to describe an idea or feeling.
  • Theatre: A place where plays or shows are performed in front of an audience.

Most Frequently used words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

Phrasal Verbs11
Fall Apart4
Help You2
Missing Out2
Made Up2
You Know2
The End2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Popular English Phrasal Verb Pairings-Fall

Hi there! Today let's do some grammar work. We've not done any for a bit. Let's do some more work on phrasal verbs. Do you know the difference between 'to fall apart', 'to fall behind', 'to fall down', 'to fall for'? They have really different meanings in English and they're made up of two small words. So phrasal verbs are verbs, which have more than one word and they're difficult in English. So let's practice some today.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

A 'Helping Hand' with Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are a bit like idioms. It's difficult to work out the meaning from just the words. So in line with Rule Six of The Seven Rules of Adept English, today I'm going to give you a Helping Hand with some of the phrasal verbs. Pardon? What do I hear you say? You don't know Rule Six of the Seven Rules of Adept English?

Well, you are missing out on really good advice about language learning. You can sign up for our Seven Rules of Adept English, our free course on our website at adeptenglish.com straight away and learn about all the different rules - they'll really help you. But today I'm giving you a Helping Hand with phrasal verbs.

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And just so that you know how common phrasal verbs are, think about that last set of sentences I just said! 'You're missing out'. 'You can sign up'. They're verbs made up from more than one word. Lots of phrasal verbs, all the time in English. So today let's have a look at the meanings of the following. To fall apart, to fall behind, to fall down to fall for, to fall off and to fall out. They all mean something different. So that little preposition word on the end changes the meaning. This is why they're difficult.

Before I start some help with other Adept English podcasts that cover phrasal verbs. I covered lots of phrasal verbs, which use the verb 'to get' in podcast 282, 378 and 446. I covered phrasal verbs using 'to break' in podcast 237, and 'to throw' in podcast 411. And podcast number 258 looks at word order when using phrasal verbs.

Sometimes that little preposition might creep along to the end of the sentence, so it's not even next to the main verb. They're even harder to spot. All those podcasts, by the way, are still available on our website at adeptenglish.com.

'To fall apart'

OK. So the first one - 'to fall apart', A P A R T. We use this phrasal verb to mean when an object falls apart. If someone says to you, "Don't stand on that chair - it'll fall apart!", it means literally that the chair might break into pieces. You might hear "My car is falling apart". Or even "My house is falling apart". It means literally 'pieces are dropping off'! It might be old. It might need to be repaired.

We also use it when we're talking about emotional states as well. You may say of a person 'she's falling apart' or 'she fell apart'. That usually means someone got very, very upset. Or if you say 'she is falling apart', meaning 'it's continuing, it's going on for longer', then she's not in a very good mental state - they're tearful in the moment or that psychologically they 'fell apart', they had a breakdown, they couldn't cope. So that's 'to fall apart'.

'To fall behind'

What about to fall behind? Well, if you can imagine a group of people going for a walk together, if there's someone at the back and that person doesn't keep up, they get further and further behind the group, we would say 'they'd fallen behind'. So 'to fall behind' means literally 'you don't keep up with everybody else'. You might, if you are in the army, use the term 'to fall back'. That means 'to retreat'. That means 'to stop pursuing your enemy', fall back. That means 'to go backwards' in that context.

Back to 'to fall behind' though, we use it in a more metaphoric way. So, if you 'fall behind' with your rental payments, or maybe you 'fall behind' with your college work, it means that you've not kept up-to-date. You're not hitting your targets, not hitting your deadlines. You're not where you should be with your work or with your payments. That's 'to fall behind'.

Examples. 'She fell behind with the payments for her new car', or 'he fell behind with his studies at university'.

'To fall down'

What about 'to fall down'? This one's a bit more simple, but there's some nuances in the meaning. If we use the straight verb 'to fall', it means that something fell from a high place to a lower place. So if you think about leaves in autumn, the leaves fall from the trees in autumn. That's why autumn's called 'fall' in America. Think about gravity and Isaac Newton perhaps - things fall. But if you 'fall down', that has the implication that you're walking on the ground, you're already at ground level, but you 'fell down'. You might hurt your knee or your back as you 'fall down'. Recently, my son fell downstairs. He was okay, but a bit bruised and a bit shaken up by the experience. Stairs can be dangerous. So 'to fall down' means you are already at a level walking along and you 'fall over' like that. You 'fall down', you hurt yourself. So 'to fall over' or 'to fall down'.


A man throwing paper balls into a bin. Fall English phrasal verb combinations to fall over, fall asleep, fall head over heels and more.

©️ Adept English 2022

You might also use 'to fall down' when you're talking about an idea or a theory. If you look at a particular theory from a certain angle, it might start 'to fall down'. It doesn't look so good. Or it might be a proposition like an electric car. When you start to look at the mileage that you get from an electric car, the idea starts 'to fall down' a little. It's not as good as it seemed at the start.

'To fall for'

Another one? What about 'to fall for'? This has a very specific meaning. We say 'you fall for someone'. Well, it means that you start to really like them a lot romantically. You might even say you've 'fallen in love' with this person, if you 'fall for them'. It's the sort of thing that you hear in song lyrics - 'I'm falling for you'. That's what it means. 'I'm falling in love with you'. 'My sister has really fallen for a man who lives in Australia', or 'My father has fallen for someone he met in his theatre company'. That sounds messy!

'To fall off'

What about 'to fall off'? Well, again, this has a literal meaning and a more metaphoric meaning. The literal meaning if you 'fall off' something - whereas 'to fall down' means you're already at a low level and you'd go like that, 'to fall off' something means that you're on a high level and you fall right down. So you would 'fall off a roof' or 'fall off a tall building', or you may 'fall off a high stool', perhaps. We would say you'd 'fallen off'. You might say 'My phone fell off the bed and was damaged'. ' My cat fell off the fence and hurt his paw'. So with this one, there's a suggestion of falling from a height, from a flat surface to a lower level and doing damage as you go down. So you would 'fall off' a cliff or you would 'fall off' a ladder, but you would 'fall out of' a tree or you would 'fall out of' a helicopter - ' cause they're not surfaces!

OK. The other use of 'to fall off', you might be talking about statistics. You might be talking about sales, or you might be talking about some other statistic and if you said, 'Oh, they've started to fall off', it means that if you put them in a graph, they'd sort of go like this. They'd be reducing. But when you use it like that, it's more of a subtle gradual fall usually than when you literally fall off a high surface.

Complicated, isn't it? Lots of subtle meanings that we have attached to these phrasal verbs.


'To fall out'

Last one. What about 'to fall out'? Well, this could have a very literal meaning. If you went shopping and you came home and your phone was no longer in your bag, you might say 'My phone has fallen out of my bag'. That's a very literal, understandable meaning.

But the more usual meaning when we say 'to fall out', you 'fall out with someone'. It means 'you've had a disagreement. You've had a difference of opinion. You've had an argument'. Maybe you're not speaking to them anymore. Maybe you're not friends with them anymore. You've had 'a falling out' or you have 'fallen out'.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

You may 'make it up' later. There's another phrasal verb for you. You may 'patch things up'. You may 'reconcile' to give it a more formal term, but right now you've 'fallen out'. 'My mother has fallen out with my auntie'. 'I've fallen out with my best friend. ' I'm going to fall out with you, if you carry on doing that!', for example.

Recap on what we've covered

Shall we do some practice? A little recap, first of all. Those phrases were

  • to fall apart
  • to fall behind
  • to fall down
  • to fall for
  • to fall off
  • to fall out

Let's practice phrasal verbs using 'to fall'

So what about a quiz to see if you can remember? I'll read you some sentences out, but you have to substitute which preposition it is for the meaning. See if you can work these out. I'll say each one twice.

  • The chimney fell.....my roof. It made a very loud noise, as it came down.
  • The chimney fell.....my roof. It made a very loud noise as it came down.
  • All the students had fallen.....with their college work because they'd been ill.
  • All the students had fallen.....with their college work because they'd been ill.
  • My sisters and brothers fell.....whenever we went on holiday.
  • My sisters and brothers fell.....whenever we went on holiday.
  • My duvet cover is falling.....I need to buy a new one.
  • My duvet cover is falling.....I need to buy a new one.
  • My grandmother fell.....in the garden and hurt her knee.
  • My grandmother fell.....in the garden and hurt her knee.
  • My cousin fell.....a boy whom she met when travelling.
  • My cousin fell.....a boy whom she met when traveling.

Answers are in the transcript

Okay. If you want help with the answers there, you can have a look in the transcript of this podcast on our website at adeptenglish.com. Have a practice, listen a few times so that these different meanings stick in your mind. Try and hold onto a couple of examples to help you.

I hope that was helpful. I hope you've got a bit more phrasal verb vocabulary so that when you hear these phrases, you'll be ready, you'll understand them. And maybe you'll start to use them yourself when you're speaking!


Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com


As promised, the answers:

  • The chimney fell OFF my roof. It made a very loud noise, as it came down. 
  • All the students had fallen BEHIND with their college work because they'd been ill. 
  • My sisters and brothers fell OUT whenever we went on holiday. 
  • My duvet cover is falling APART - I need to buy a new one. 
  • My grandmother fell DOWN in the garden and hurt her knee. 
  • My cousin fell FOR a boy whom she met when travelling. 



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