English has many two-word phrasal verbs that can be used as commands. This is a list of the 50 most frequent phrasal verb commands that you can use. To make good use of this resource, I recommend that you:
1. Read the command and its definition, making sure that you understand its meanings and uses.
2. Read the example sentences out loud to practice your speaking, as you imagine the context of each situation.
Remember, commands are always given to the second person: to YOU. Someone might use these commands to tell you to do something, or you can use them yourself to tell other people to do something.
A quick note: While commands are usually followed with an exclamation mark (!), it is 100% possible to give a command in a neutral or even a friendly or encouraging tone.
Finally, if you would like to learn more phrasal verbs, you can find them in my book, 100 Practical English Phrasal Verbs.
So, are you ready? Let's look at the list. Here are the 50 most frequent phrasal verb commands in the English language.
Don't come any closer; get out of my personal space (physical, professional, mental, or emotional); stop bothering me or trying to get involved in business that does not concern you
"You're in my personal space. Back off."
"Back off! You don't know the full situation, and this does not concern you."
"You're far too interested in this case, and you need to back off."
Move back; you're too close; move back because someone or something needs or wants more space; also used when you want to tell someone to return to a previous point in a story, explanation, etc.
"Back up! Make room for the parade!"
"Please back up! The paramedics need more room to help the victim!"
"Back up. You said you weren't at the meeting, so how do you know what Veronica actually said?"
Bend your knees and lower your body; lean down and forward; often used in exercise instructions or when you want to show someone something that is in a lower place
"Next, stand up straight and don't bend your knees. Now bend down and try to touch the floor with your hands."
"You won't be able to see it from there. Bend down."
"I can't see anything. Bend down, would you?"
Breathe in, breathe out
Inhale and exhale; usually used to encourage someone to relax and return to a calmer state, or during a guided meditation or exercise session
"Now close your eyes. Good. Breathe in. Breathe out."
"Hey, you need to calm down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Okay?"
"To begin the meditation, you must become conscious of your breath. Breathe in and count to 5. Now breathe out and count to 5."
be calm; relax; used when you want to tell or encourage someone to reduce their level of anger, stress, etc.
"Calm down. It's not a big deal."
"Calm down?! You want me to calm down after what you did?! No! I will not calm down!"
"Hey, your face is turning red and your heart is beating a mile a minute. Just breathe. Now calm down."
Keep doing what you are or what you were doing or saying; continue
"Sorry for the interruption. Carry on."
"You're doing a great job. Carry on."
"It looks like you know what you're doing. Carry on."
Feel positive; stop feeling so sad; used to encourage someone who is not feeling well emotionally (be careful when you use it, as telling someone to "cheer up" during a very difficult situation might not be the best thing you can say)
"Hey. Cheer up. It's not the end of the world."
"Cheer up. Yes, you lost your job, but you didn't really like it anyway."
"Cheer up. Tomorrow is another day."
Relax; be cool; a more informal way to say "calm down"; can also be used to encourage someone to join you and enjoy spending time together in a relaxed environment
"Chill out. It was an accident."
"Why are you yelling? Chill out!"
"You look tired. Why don't you sit down and talk with us for a few minutes? Chill out."
"Come back! You forgot your keys!"
"Don't come back! I never want to see you again!"
"I miss you. Please come back."
Come; follow me; used to encourage someone to move and/or to start taking action; can be used informally to say "Really? Are you serious?"
"The store is just around the corner. Come on."
"Come on. Put you jacket on. We're going to be late."
"You expect me to believe that? Come on! What kind of fool do you think I am?"
An invitation to enter a place
"It's cold outside. Come in."
"George! What are you doing here? Please come in!"
"Come in. Don't let the mosquitos get inside the house."
come here; an invitation used for telling someone to come to the place where you are (usually your home or someone's else's home, but it can be a café, or any place where people congregate to socialize)
"You don't have any dinner plans? Good. Come over. I'm making risotto."
"Sharon and I are just hanging out at her place. Come over. We need a third person to play cards."
"Come over if you're not busy."
Continue dreaming; used when you want to tell someone that something is unlikely or impossible (often said in a pessimistic or cynical way)
"You think Juventus can still the championship? Dream on!"
"You really think Gina will say 'yes' to Tom's invitation? Dream on!"
"I want you to work for me." "Ha! Dream on! Never in a million years."
Drink; used for encouraging someone to drink or to finish what they are drinking
"This cough syrup will help you to feel better. Drink up."
"Drink up, everybody! Cheers to the newlyweds!"
"Come on. Drink up. We need to leave in two minutes."
Finish; used for encouraging someone to finish what they are doing, usually because they need to start another activity or go somewhere
"Are you almost done? Finish up. We need to continue to the next task."
"You're still eating? Come on. Finish up. The school bus leaves in 10 minutes."
"We don't have a lot of time left for this meeting, Frank. Finish up, please."
Used for encouraging a group of people to congregate in one place (often said as "gather 'round" without the "a" in "around")
"Gather around, children. I'm going to start the story now."
"Gather around, everybody! I've got some big news!"
"Min wants to share something with all of us. Gather around."
Interchangeable with the more neutral "Move back"; move away; do not come or go any closer
"Get back! It's dangerous to be so close to the edge of the cliff."
"He has a gun! Get back!"
"Get back! The fireworks are going to go off!" (This means the fireworks are going to start shooting into the air and exploding.)
Come down; used for commanding or encouraging someone to descend from a high place; also used for commanding or encouraging someone to lower their body (often in order to hide)
"You're going to hurt yourself up there. Get down."
"I think you've climbed far enough up that tree. Get down."
"Get down! It's the police!"
Used for encouraging someone to enter a vehicle or an enclosed space
"Get in the car. We don't have much time."
"My dad is coming up the stairs! Quick! The closet! Get in!"
"You're blocking the other people in the hallway. Get in here."
Used for encouraging someone to exit a form of public transportation, such as a bus, train, or subway car; also used for commanding someone to detach themselves from you, someone, or something
"This is our stop. Get off."
"Get off the bus. You didn't buy a ticket."
"Get off me! You're heavy!"
Used for encouraging someone to enter a form of public transportation, such as a bus, train, or subway car, or any other means of transport, such as an elevator, a boat, a bike, a motorcycle, etc.
"There's enough room on this seat for both of us. Get on."
"Just get on. You're slowing down the line behind you."
"There's enough room in the elevator for you. Come on. Get on."
Rise; stand; stop lying down; often used to command or encourage someone to leave their bed after sleeping
"You've been lying down on that couch and watching TV all day. Get up."
"You're still in bed?! Get up! We have to leave in 20 minutes!"
"I don't care if you're tired. Get up!"
Surrender; quit; do not continue trying
"Give up. You're never going to beat me at this game."
"Your team is losing 5 to 0. You don't have a chance. Just give up."
"Troy is never going to say 'yes' no matter how many times you ask him out on a date. Just give up."
Go in a direction and path that avoids the obstacle instead of just trying to go straight
"You can't get there by going this way. Go around the building."
"Sorry, but this way is blocked. Go around."
"This guy is driving too slow and isn't changing lanes for you. Go around him!"
Leave; go to a place that isn't here
"Go away. I'm busy."
"Can't you see I'm doing something important? Go away!"
"I'm going to say this nicely because you're my roommate. Please go away and don't come back until tomorrow morning."
Return; move back; used for commanding or encouraging someone to move away from a place, or to go again to a place
"This jacket isn't the right size. Go back to the store."
"Go back. I need a little more room here."
"Why did you leave your room? Go back! You're still punished!"
Used for commanding or encouraging someone to start or continue moving in a particular direction, or to start or continue saying something
"Sorry for interrupting you. Please go on with your story."
"Why are you just standing there? Go on. Start walking."
"Go on. The road is perfectly safe. You don't have to be scared."
Said to someone who is perceived to be immature
"Ugh. I can't believe you still laugh at those kind of jokes. Grow up."
"Grow up! You're not 12 years old anymore!"
"Why are you so lazy and irresponsible? Grow up!"
Wait (similar to, see also: "Hold on")
"Hang on. I'll be right there."
"Sorry, my mom is asking me something. Hang on a second, will you?"
"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Hang on. What did you just say?"
End the phone call
"It's just a telemarketer trying to sell you something. Hang up."
"You've been on the phone for over 2 hours! Hang up right now!"
"Just hang up. You don't have to be so nice to everyone who calls you and tries to sell you something."
Wait (similar to, see also: "Hang on"); also used for commanding or encouraging someone to grab something so they can maintain their balance or their grip
"Hold on! Don't let go! I'll help you climb up!"
"Wait. Wait. Wait. Hold on. Could you repeat what you just said?"
"Hold on. I'll be there soon."
Keep it up
Continue in the same way; used for encouraging someone to do something in the same way or fashion they have been doing it because they have been getting positive results until now
"So far, you've answered all of the questions correctly. Keep it up!
"Wow. You look great. You've been going to the gym for two months now, right? Keep it up."
"You've been making excellent progress. Don't stop now. Keep it up."
Keep your distance from me, someone, or something
"Keep away from me. I'm sick."
"Keep away from the oven. It's still really hot."
"That dog isn't good around people. Keep away."
Do not enter (often used in the sentence "Keep out of" plus the place you want someone not to enter)
"This room is private. Please keep out."
"Keep out of my business." (Synonymous with saying "Stay out of my business.")
"No one is allowed into the offices until the fire department arrives. For now, keep out and wait outside."
Rest your body on a horizonal surface (typically, a bed or a couch)
"You look a little dizzy. Here. Lie down on the couch."
"Don't worry. I'll make sure everything is taken care of. You just lie down here and relax."
"Please lie down on the examination table. The doctor will be here shortly."
Make a line of people
"Line up, everybody. We're going to speak to each of you one by one."
"Okay, everyone! Recess is finished! It's time to go back to class! Line up, please!"
"We're going to take turns shooting the ball into the basket. Line up behind the red line."
Listen (usually said to a group of people whose attention you are trying to get)
"Listen up. I've got some very important news."
"We all need to be on the same page, so listen up!"
"Listen up! I need 3 volunteers to represent our company at the convention!"
Usually interchangeable with "Watch out," meaning pay attention to your surroundings; be careful; often used when something is coming towards someone and you want to warn them to pay attention so they can avoid an accident or an unpleasant situation. You can also say this if you are moving quickly and want people in front of you to move out of the way.
"Look out! That car isn't stopping!"
"Look out! She has a gun!"
"Look out! Above you!" (context: something is falling from a high place and a person is in danger of getting struck with it if they don't move out of the way)
Move to the next phase/stage/segment/etc.; continue with your life; do not become obsessed with a bad event from the past
"I think I understand the main point from this part of the presentation. Move on, please."
"Karoline broke up with you over six months ago. Move on!"
"You're still upset about that? It was over ten years ago! Move on!"
Interchangeable with the more informal "get back." You are too close to the front, or too close to me; move away from here to a place that is farther back; often used when you want or need more space, and you want or need people to give you more room to do something
"I can't breathe with everyone surrounding me like this. Move back!"
"Move back, please. The procession needs more room."
"You're not allowed to stand so close to the stage. Move back!
Used for commanding or encouraging someone to open a locked door or other locked space
"Open up! I know you're in there!"
"Rose! Why is your room locked? Open up!"
"Open up! It's the police!"
Be quiet; stop being so noisy
"Quiet down in here, please. I can hear you all the way in the other room."
"I can't hear myself think! Quiet down!"
"Quiet down, everybody! Grandma Lucinda has something she wants to say!"
(slang, rude) Be quiet; do not talk; stop talking; can also be used to show your disbelief when you hear shocking or surprising news
"Shut up! I'm tired of hearing you talk, talk, talk!"
"What? Brenda really lost her job? Shut up! No way!"
"Shut up and stop lying."
"Thank you all for coming today. Please sit down."
"I'm not finished talking to you yet. Sit down."
"Please sit down. You've had a long trip."
"Stand up. The bride is entering the room."
"Who's taller? You or Cynthia? Cynthia, stand up, please."
"Stand up straight! You're going to have back problems later if you don't learn good posture now."
Usually interchangeable with "move back" and "get back." You are too close to the front, or too close to me; move away from here to a place that is farther back; often used when you want or need more space, and you want or need people to give you more room to do something
"Step back. I need a little room to do this."
"Step back, please, so that everyone is able to see what's happening."
"Step back! You're too close!"
Turn and go in the opposite direction; rotate, usually 180 degrees
"Turn around. I want to see how the dress looks at the back."
"We're driving the wrong way. Turn around."
"Turn around and look at me when I'm talking to you."
"Wait up! You're walking too fast!"
"I'll be there in 10 minutes. Just wait up, okay?"
"Wait up. I'm not that far behind you."
Awaken; stop sleeping; open your eyes; start paying attention to or become aware of the reality of a situation
"Mark. Hey, Mark. Wake up! We have to go."
"The hotel expects us to check out in an hour. Wake up."
"Wake up, Gabriella! Your company is lying to you!
Usually interchangeable with "Look out," meaning pay attention to your surroundings; be careful. This is often used when something is coming towards someone and you want to warn them to pay attention so they can avoid an accident or an unpleasant situation. You can also say this if you are moving quickly and want people in front of you to move out of the way
"Watch out! The brakes on my bike aren't working!"
"Watch out! There's a thief!"
"Brent might try to cheat you, so watch out."
That's all! You just studied the 50 most frequent phrasal verb commands in the English language. I hope you found this resource useful. Make sure you check out the video that inspired this article:
If you would like to learn more about phrasal verbs, and/or if you want to support my work, pick up a copy of my popular book, 100 Practical English Phrasal Verbs. Thank you. Until next time, I wish you success in your studies.