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Phrasal verbs in action: news

Here are 5 very commonly used phrasal verbs which you can use when talking about the news and current affairs - a very popular subject in the IELTS speaking test!

EXPLANATION: The news can sometimes be quite negative and repetitive. If you use Facebook and have a newsfeed, it can also be very overwhelming. This is why some people reduce or CUT DOWN on the amount of news they see, read or listen to. For example, they unsubscribe to sources of news on Youtube and unfollow pages on Facebook. As well as this, they CUT DOWN on the amount of TV they watch and read fewer newspapers or none at all.

EXAMPLE: “The news is so depressing these days that I’ve cut down on the amount of time I spend on social media.”

QUESTION: Do you think there are any benefits of CUTTING DOWN on how much news you read or listen to?


EXPLANATION: Not every story you read is true and some stories are hidden from the public. This is common when there is a scandal or some dangerous information which the government decides should not be released. This is why you hear people accusing companies and newspapers of working together to COVER UP stories. Some of these accusations are known as conspiracy theories but some might be true.

EXAMPLE: “Have you read about the government expenses scandal? They tried to cover it up but it was made public by some excellent investigative journalism.”

QUESTION: Do you know of a story that was COVERED UP but later became public knowledge?


EXPLANATION: When an action or incident is made to seem more serious or more important than it really is, we say it has been BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION. It’s usually used in a negative sense, making something appear worse that it really is. This is typical of some newspapers when they want to create sensational headlines.

EXAMPLE: “They’re making such a big deal about his behaviour. It’s been completely blown out of proportion.”

QUESTION: Can you think of a story involving a celebrity that has been BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION?


EXPLANATION: News stories inform readers of events in the world. With the ‘fake news’ movement, we don’t always know what is real, so it’s common for people to be interviewed or for reporters to write factual pieces to tell us exactly what the truth is and to CLEAR UP any confusion that we might have. This is very common when false allegations are made against someone.

EXAMPLE: “I always read two or three versions of the same story to clear up any doubts I have about its authenticity.”

QUESTION: If you ever read a fake news story about yourself, what would you do?


EXPLANATION: When all copies of a newspaper are bought and none remain, it is SOLD OUT. You can also use SELL OUT to describe someone who no longer has the same moral principles that they used to have because they have chosen to act in the interests of earning more money rather than maintaining their integrity.

EXAMPLE: “Our Prime Minister sold out when she made lucrative trade deals with a ruthless dictator rather than condemning his human rights abuses.”

QUESTION: Can you think of a politician, actor, musician or writer who has sold out for financial gain?


Do you know any more phrasal verbs related to THE NEWS?

Please write them in the comments box with an explanation and example sentence and you could win a free English course!!

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