Tim Bowen’s pulled out all the stops to bring you another stunning article on phrasal verbs!

‘Chelsea pulled off a major surprise when they beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.’ Here, pull off means to succeed in doing something difficult.

If you pull off a road, you leave it, usually just before stopping, as in ‘If you get tired, pull off the motorway at the next service station’. If you pull over, you move to the side of the road and stop, as in ‘The police told him to pull over’. Road vehicles pull over but trains pull in as in ‘He jumped off the train as soon as it pulled into the station’. Departing trains pull out, as in ‘He stood on the platform and watched her train pull out’.

If troops withdraw or are withdrawn from a place, they also pull out or are pulled out, as in ‘If they pulled their troops out tomorrow, what would happen?’ Road vehicles can also pull out, in the sense of moving onto a road where the traffic is moving faster, as in ‘He just pulled out in front of me without any warning’. 

If you pull out all the stops, you make a big effort to ensure that something happens or is successful, as in ‘Staff at the Children’s Hospital pulled out all the stops to make sure the kids had a happy Christmas Day’.

To pull through usually means to manage to stay alive after you have been very sick or badly injured, as in ‘The doctors gave us the good news that she was going to pull through after all’.