Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: sleep

Type: Article

Did you ever sleep over at a friend's house when you were a child? And do you intend to nod off in front of the TV when you're older? Tim Bowen dreams up a batch of phrasal verbs for all ages.

If you have just eaten a large meal and are sitting in a warm room watching a boring programme on TV, the chances are that you will doze off (fall asleep for a short time without intending to). Other phrasal verbs with a similar meaning are nod off and drop off, as in 'I nodded off in the middle of the film'.

Some people like to lie in or sleep in at weekends, meaning that they stay in bed longer than usual, as in ‘We usually lie in on Sundays’.

If you need to get rid of an unpleasant or uncomfortable feeling by sleeping, especially after eating or drinking too much, you can sleep it off, as in ‘The day after the wedding I was still sleeping off the champagne’ or ‘He’s upstairs, sleeping it off.’

If you continue to sleep and are not woken by something, you can say that you sleep through it, as in 'I didn't hear the alarm-clock this morning. I must have slept through it'. You can also sleep through until a particular time, as in ‘I was so tired I slept through until noon’.

Children, particularly teenage children, often stay at a friend's house overnight. This is known as a sleepover and it can also be used as a phrasal verb, as in 'Mum, can Billy sleep over on Saturday?'

If you sleep on something, you wait to make a decision until the next day, after you have rested and had more time to think, as in 'Let me sleep on it and I'll give you an answer tomorrow'.

Finally, if you dream up something you think of it of imagine it.  It is often used sarcastically or to refer to something that is unrealistic in practice, as in, 'What silly idea have you dreamt up this time?'

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