Tim Bowen serves up some delicious phrasal verbs. Tuck in!

Learners of English often ask what British people say before starting a meal. The phrase enjoy your meal is sometimes given in response to this question, although it is an imported expression and not widely used.

If you are encouraging someone to start eating, you could ask them to tuck in as in, ‘Don’t wait for us. Just tuck in!’ As an encouragement to start eating hungrily or attack your food, the verb dive in can also be used.

If you are extremely hungry you might wolf down your food, as in ‘The children wolfed the cake down in no time at all’, and if you finish all of a particular dish or portion of food, you can say that you polish it off, as in ‘You must have been hungry. You soon polished that off’’.

If, on the other hand, you are suffering from a loss or appetite or are not particularly hungry for some reason, you might pick at your food, as in ‘He picked at his breakfast with a miserable expression on his face’. If you are very thirsty you might gulp down a drink (drink it very quickly) and, if the drink in question is an alcoholic drink, you could knock it back (swallow it quickly), as in ‘He sat quietly in a corner knocking back glasses of vodka’.

If a drink is particularly pleasant and easy to drink, you can say that it slips down well or nicely, as in ‘That bottle of wine you gave me slipped down really well. We polished it off in no time at all’.