Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: fight

Type: Article

Fight off the urge to give up on phrasal verbs as Tim Bowen gives you a hand with this article.

‘After three days of plunging share prices, when billions of pounds were wiped off the value of shares, European markets have begun to fight back.’ In this sense, to fight back means to try to stop someone or something doing something harmful to you. 

It can also be used in the sense of ‘retaliate’ to mean to hit or kick someone who is physically attacking you, as in ‘The mugger had punched the victim before grabbing her mobile phone and was astonished when she fought back and threw him to the ground’. 

It is also possible to fight back an emotion by trying very hard not to show it, as in ‘I could feel tears welling up and it was all I could do to fight them back’. 

If you fight someone off, you defend yourself because that person is trying to attack you, as in ‘He was attacked by a man with a knife but he managed to fight him off’. 

The same verb can also be used in a business context in the sense of trying to prevent a competitor from taking a share of your business or taking over your business, as in ‘The new advertising campaign should help the company to fight off its competitors in this sector’ or ‘They successfully fought off a takeover bid from one of their main competitors’. 

The verb has a similar meaning in a sporting context, as in ‘The champion was under threat in the final stages of the race but she managed to fight off her challengers and win the gold medal’. 

If your body fights off an illness, it prevents that illness from making you ill, as in ‘Regular exercise can help the body to fight off infections’.

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