Phrasal verbs in action: gifts
Here are 5 very commonly used phrasal verbs which you can use when talking about buying or exchanging gifts.
- to give out = to distribute
When it’s a religious festival like December 24th or 25th, families gather together and GIVE OUT presents. It is also a Christmas tradition for someone to dress as Santa Claus and to GIVE OUT presents to young children.
In the IELTS test, you are often asked to describe typical festivals from your country, so you could say this:
“In my country, we have a famous festival called .... and during the festival, people give out sweets to all the children in the street.”
When was the last time you went to a festival, religious event or gathering where someone GAVE things OUT?
- to give (something) away = to let someone have something of yours (for free / as a gift)
Sometimes you give people something you own as a gift. It might be something you no longer need or something that someone really likes and you decide to give it to them.
Can you think of something you have that a friend would like? Would you give it to them? If so, then you’d GIVE it AWAY.
“This year the children at my daughter’s school are giving away their old toys so they can be used as Christmas gifts for children in hospital.”
GIVE AWAY is often used when things are donated to charities. For example:
“I gave away all my old barbie dolls to our local children’s charity.”
- to save up (money) = to collect money over time in order to buy something
Christmas and other similar festivals often involve buying gifts for friends or family members and it can be quite costly so some people have to SAVE UP for several weeks or months prior to the festival.
Parents, for example, might have to save up to buy their child an expensive bike or maybe the children need to save up their pocket money to buy their parents a present!
“I saved up all my spare money for a month and bought my dad a very nice watch for his birthday.”
Can you think of something expensive that you would like to have but can’t afford to buy it now? How long would you need to SAVE UP for it?
- to wrap up (a gift) = to cover it in paper
It is tradition in some countries to give people presents that are covered in special paper to hide what is inside and to make the present look more appealing.
In some shops, the sales person will ask you “do you want it wrapped?”. Some people prefer to WRAP UP presents themselves.
“I bought my sister a birthday present and wrapped it up so she wouldn’t guess what it was.”
Do you prefer to WRAP UP presents yourself, ask the salesperson to do it or just give presents in their original packaging?
- to pick up = to (casually) buy a gift for someone
You can use PICK UP to minimise the importance of buying a small gift for someone. It is also used when you want to say you bought something for someone because they needed it.
For example, you might say to a friend:
“I picked this book up for you as I know you like the author.”
Or perhaps this:
“I picked up some cough syrup for you from the chemist.”
Now it’s over to you. Look at some typical IELTS questions about gifts, celebrations or festivals and think about how you could use these phrasal verbs in your answers.
Practise makes perfect!!