Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: do

Type: Article

Do away with Your English? Certainly not! Tim Bowen isn’t done in yet …

In the UK, many people have begun to suspect that the Conservative party is hell-bent on doing away with (getting rid of) the National Health Service. It is also possible to do away with someone, in other words to murder them, as in ‘There were rumours that Doug had done away with his wife’. Indeed, perhaps Doug did kill her or maybe an illness did for her (finished her off), as in ‘It was the flu that did for her in the end’.

If, on the other hand, you are done for, you are likely to be punished, hurt or killed, as in ‘If the guards see us, we’re done for’. This can also be used to suggest that someone is completely exhausted, as in ‘It looks like Sam is done for – he can’t walk any further’. The phrasal verb to do in can be used in the same way, as in ‘I’m completely done in after all that running around’ or ‘It was climbing that last hill that really did them in’.

If you do someone out of something, you stop them from having something they should have, especially in a way that is unfair or dishonest, as in ‘I think the barman has just done me out of £10’ or ‘She claims she’s been done out of her pension’.

If you do someone over, you attack them and beat them up, as in ‘A gang of kids did him over on the way back from school’, or you illegally enter someone’s house and steal things from it, causing a lot of damage in the process, as in ‘As soon as I opened the door, I could see the place had been done over’.

If you do up an old building, you repair, paint and improve it, as in ‘It’s a lovely old cottage but we are going to need to do it up a bit’.

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