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Your English: Phrasal verbs: turn (2)

Type: Article

Does the subject of phrasal verbs turn you on? In which case, Tim Bowen urges you to read on!

‘Opinion polls have shown that this constant bickering within the party is beginning to turn voters off’. If something turns you off, it makes you feel bored or no longer interested in it, but if someone turns you off, you no longer feel attracted to them, as in ‘That comb-over of his really turns me off’.

The opposite sense is conveyed by turn on, as in ‘He’s very nice but he just doesn’t turn me on’ and ‘Accountancy isn’t a subject that is going to turn millions of television viewers on’. With the previous meaning in mind, the next example of turn on needs a bit of care when used, as it is non-separable: ‘The dog suddenly turned on its owner, causing severe injuries’, where the verb means to attack someone suddenly and violently. This sense is not confined to attacks by animals: ‘After pelting the building with stones for several minutes, the mob then turned on the police’.

The expression Whatever turns you on is used to indicate that something that interests someone else does not interest you at all, as in ‘Apparently, Peter enjoys going to casinos and gambling. Really? Whatever turns you on’.

Turn on can also be used to refer to the issue, fact or point that something depends on most, as in ‘The outcome of the trial turned on the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution’ or ‘The result turned on a refereeing error in the sixth minute of injury time when Gerrard was wrongly judged to have fouled Rooney in the box’. The phrasal verb hinge on can be used with the same meaning.

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