Your English: Phrasal verbs: burn
Are you burning with curiosity to find out what Tim Bowen’s written about this week? Then read on …
The recent rioting in England has seen a number of buildings burn down (be destroyed by fire) and others have been left as burnt out ruins (with their contents destroyed).
The verb burn is also used with several other adverbial particles to form phrasal verbs. If you use up energy or get rid of fat from your body by doing physical activity, you can burn off calories, as in ‘Swimming can help you burn off those unwanted calories’.
Burn up can be used in much the same way, as in ‘Dancers burn up a lot of calories’. This is also used in the context of using fuel, as in ‘I kept putting in more and more petrol but the car just seemed to burn it up’.
If you burn with a strong feeling, you feel it very strongly, as in ‘We were all burning with curiosity’ or ‘She’s someone who burns with enthusiasm’.
To return to burn out, if a fire stops burning, it burns out, as in ‘Leave the fire to burn itself out’. It can also be used with electrical equipment that gets too hot and stops working, as in ‘Be careful that the motor doesn’t burn out’.
If a strong feeling stops, it can be said to burn out, as in ‘His rage had been intense but it had burnt itself out’. People can also burn out, if they make themselves ill or unable to continue working because they have worked too hard, as in ‘If you carry on like this, you’ll burn yourself out’ or ‘Some young footballers burn out in their mid-twenties’.