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Phrasal verbs in action: hobbies

Talking about your hobbies and interests is something you often have to do in the IELTS speaking test, especially in Part 1. So, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with a few phrasal verbs related to this topic. Here are some very common examples:

TAKE UP (a hobby) = to start something new

You could TAKE UP a new sport, a creative hobby like painting or something simple such as jogging.

The secret with TAKE UP is to just use it instead of START or BEGIN. You’ll need to do this a few times before it becomes natural though. When you get better, you’ll have 3 different ways to talk about a new hobby. For example:

I’ve just begun a salsa class and it’s very intensive. I’d been wanting TO TAKE UP salsa dancing for years but I never got round to starting due to lack of time.


JOIN IN = to participate in an activity

You can JOIN IN an activity before it starts or while it is in progress.

To use JOIN IN, imagine some of your friends are playing a sport and they ask you to play with them. For example:

I played basketball last Saturday with some friends because they needed an extra player and asked me to JOIN IN. I jumped at the chance and now I play with them every week.


GET INTO = to become interested in something

You can GET INTO a hobby or an interest in a variety of ways; from reading about it, hearing about it from a friend or by trying it for yourself.

You normally use GET INTO when you’re talking about the time when you started your hobby or interest. For example:

I first GOT INTO yoga when my best friend encouraged me to try it to help me feel less stressed.


KEEP UP = to continue doing something

We often start different hobbies throughout our life, but we don’t always KEEP them UP for very long.

You usually use KEEP UP when you’re telling somebody how long you did a particular activity for. For example:

I used to play badminton 2 or 3 times a week in my twenties, but it was difficult to KEEP it UP after I had children.


PACK IN / GIVE UP (a hobby/activity) = to stop doing something

It’s easy to take up a new hobby but it’s not easy to keep it up. When you quit, you can say that you PACKED it IN or GAVE it UP.

Make a list of all the hobbies, activities and sports you have taken up but then PACKED IN or GIVEN UP. Here’s a short list of mine:

In my adult life I have taken up many new activities such as yoga, salsa dancing, drumming and Japanese classes but I GAVE them all UP for various reasons. However, I recently took up a different type of dancing called Lindy Hop, so I hope I’ll be able to keep this one up.

Now over to you! Write a comment about your hobbies and try to use some of these phrasal verbs to talk about them.

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