Same verb, different meaning: take off


A multi-word verb is a verb that has more than one word. We usually think of them as a main verb followed by one or two particles. The particle could be an adverb or a preposition.

I never messed around at school, I was a good student.
(to mess around = to behave badly)

Multi-word verbs with prepositions are known as prepositional verbs. Multi-word verbs with adverbs are known as phrasal verbs. The term phrasal verbs is often used to refer to all multi-word verbs.

Same verb, different meaning

Some multi-word verbs have different meanings. These examples are all connected with verb to take off.

He’s very good at taking people off
(to take someone off = to impersonate, mimic, copy the way someone speaks)

Our flight finally took off after a two-hour delay.
(to take off = to leave the ground)

When he came in he took his jacket off.
(to take something off = to remove an item of clothing)

I never thought social media would take off. I guess I couldn’t have been more wrong.
(to take off = to become successful and popular)

He wasn’t playing well so the manager took him off after 30 minutes.
(to take someone off = to substitute a player)

Crumbs! Is that the time? I’ve got to take off.
(to take off = to leave suddenly)

I’m not feeling very well, I think I’ll have to take the day off.
(to take a period of time off = to not go to work for a period of time)


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