Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: brush

Type: Article

Tim Bowen helps us brush up on our phrasal verbs as he brushes away all confusion.

’Despite admitting using illegal drugs while in public office, the mayor has brushed aside pressure to resign his post’. If you brush aside accusations, complaints or protests, you refuse to accept that they are either important or true and you simply dismiss them. Brush away can be used in the same way, as in ’The minister has brushed away all allegations of corruption’. Similarly, if you brush off questions, suggestions, allegations etc, you show your disapproval of them and refuse to accept that they are true, as in ’The Education Minister brushed off suggestions that he had considered resigning’.

If you brush someone off, you simply refuse to listen to them, as in ’I tried to tell him but he just brushed me off’. The noun form of this phrasal verb can be used in the expression ’to give someone the brush-off’, meaning that you give them a clear sign that you are not interested in them or in their ideas, as in ’I tried to start a conversation with her but she just gave me the brush-off’.

To brush up means to practise and improve your skills in or knowledge of something, as in ’He’s off to Berlin for a month to brush up his German’.

If you brush past someone, you pass them quickly making slight contact with them as you do so, as in ’She grabbed her bag and brushed past me before running out into the street’. Brush against can be used in a similar way, as in ’I felt the cat’s tail brush against my knee’.

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