• Daniel Bullock

A Beginner’s Guide to Phrasal Verbs: Using "at"

Updated: Apr 15

What are phrasal verbs and why do I need to use them?

Phrasal verbs are expressions that help us sound more natural, closer to a native speaker of English. They can also convey information efficiently. Phrases such as good at and jump at are examples of animal idioms. Use these and more to sound more fluent in your English. In this post, we will look at 20 common phrasal verbs which use "at" and find out what they mean. We will also uncover examples of how to use all of them.


1. When do we use phrasal verbs?

2. Why you need this table of 20 phrasal verbs using AT

3. 20 beginner phrasal verbs with examples for great English

4. A word on improving your English ability

When do we use phrasal verbs?

Common phrasal verbs using at for business English

If you are at the office, making a business deal, or chatting to coworkers, you may hear phrasal verbs. If your colleague asks "what are you getting at?", what does she mean? You might come across this English phrasal verb at work, and if you do not know the meaning of it, there could be a miscommunication! To get at something means to hint or indicate something.

What are phrasal verbs examples?
We arrived at The Spanish villa in the afternoon.

Common phrasal verbs for general English conversation

In general social situations as well, you will come across common phrasal verbs which incorporate at. How would you respond if your buddy said: “You have to jump at that offer”? If you don’t know the meaning of this phrase then you wouldn’t be able to respond in an appropriate manner. When someone says jump at it, they are trying to tell you to eagerly accept an opportunity. This phrasal verb is known as an inseparable phrase. We do not place anything between jump and at.

Common phrasal verbs for school

What are the 10 most used phrasal verbs?
The tesm is aiming for the cup this season

Just as in regular social situations, students will come across phrasal verbs that use "at" during their daily school life. What would you say if your classmate said: “The teacher says I have to work at my English grammar some more”? Do you reply with sympathy, by laughing or offering advice? The expression “to work at” means to concentrate on something more, in order to improve or get better.

Why you need this table of 20 top phrasal verbs using at

Use these phrases to sound smooth, natural, and impactful in your English

Aim at means to target something.

Arrive at means to reach a destination.

Frown at means to disapprove of something.

Get at means to reach or imply something.

To get back at means to get revenge on someone.

To have at it means to enthusiastically try something, or to attack.

To holla at means to casually greet someone. It also means to telephone.

Jump at means to enthusiastically accept an offer.

Laugh at means to find something funny and laugh. Also to think something is pathetic.

Look at means to physically stare at something, and also to think about a situation or subject carefully.

Make oneself at home means to get comfortable in a new place. Usually an offer by the host,

Paw at means to repeatedly hit (someone or something) with a paw. Also to come on to someone in a rude way

Peck at means to only nibble your food.

Play at means to try something without heart, not seriously.

Stick at means to keep trying something without giving up.

To work at means to make an effort to do (something) better.

To be at means to physically be at a place.

To wink at someone means you close one of your eyes in a humorous acknowledgment, or romantic.

To nod at someone means to physically move your head up and down a little in acknowledgment of someone.

To keep at something means to not give up on doing something. To be determined.

Some beginner's advice on how to study phrasal verbs effectively

What is the easiest way to memorize phrasal verbs? Advice, counseling session
Some advice on learning English phrasal verbs, particularly with "at".

To remember these phrases it is a good idea to read them out aloud. After that, highlight the words you do not know, and look up the meanings in a dictionary. Either a dictionary you have around the house, or a good online dictionary such as this. Studying idiomatic expressions alone will not suddenly make your English ability excellent, but it will go a long way toward making you sound more fluent. If you would like to find out more about phrasal verbs, or idioms why not check out some of our other posts here at Daniel's English Club?

20 beginner phrasal verbs with examples for great English

phrasal verbs at, messy room, clothes, stuff
What are you getting at? Do you think my room is messy? It is just a few clothes!

1. Aim at use in a sentence

I am aiming at taking the TOEIC test this year, but if I am too busy I will put it off to next year.

2. Do we arrive at or in the airport?

In the majority of cases, at the airport is the natural choice.

Unfortunately, we arrived at the airport too late to check in for our flight.

3. What is a synonym of frown at?

A synonym of frown at is dislike or disapprove. We often use this expression together with someone's behavior.

Mrs. Smith frowned at Johnny's rude lanofguage.

4. Get at meaning and example

This means to reach for a high object, for example on a bookshelf. It can also mean imply.

I can't get at that cobweb in the corner no matter how far I stretch. I need longer arms!

5. How do you use get back at in a sentence?

Tracey got back at her brother by not giving him any chocolates when he next asked. She was upset because he was rude to her.

raspberries and chocolate, nice food, snacks, sweets
I got back at home for stealing my favorite raspberry chocolate!

Image courtesy of Vecteezy

6. Have at it meaning and example sentence

When we have at it, we go at something aggressively or enthusiastically.

Mark offered to vacuum the floor. I told him to have at it! I'd rather not do it myself.

7. What does the slang Holla at mean?

When you holla at someone, you are acknowledging them.

Will you holla at Mike? He hasn't noticed us sitting here yet.

8. Jump at the chance meaning

This means you enthusiastically accept an offer.

If you get the chance to go on a homestay, you should jump at the chance. It's a great opportunity to improve your English.

9. Laugh at in a sentence

You should never laugh at someone for trying to speak a foreign language. It is a difficult and sometimes embarrassing process.

10. How do you use look at in a sentence?

The teacher was looking at me, expecting me to hand in my English homework.
How can I learn phrasal verbs? Look at, on, over, in
The teacher was looking right at me! Maybe she wanted to know if I had done my phrasal verb homework.

11. Why don't you make yourself at home meaning with example

When someone says "make yourself at home" they are being polite or friendly. They mean that you should relax in this place as if it is your own home.

Welcome to my house. Please make yourself at home.

12. Paw at meaning and example sentence

This idiomatic expression is used when an animal with paws is hitting something. Usually a cat or a dog. It can also mean unpleasant romantic advances by someone.

Our cat kept on pawing at my sweater. It got damaged!

13. Peck at food meaning

Pecking at food means you don't eat a lot, you take small bites as a small bird would.

Would you stop pecking at that roast beef and eat it all up, please?

14. What is an example of the idiom play at?

Monique is only playing at studying English, unfortunately. To improve more, she needs to study grammar and vocabulary much more seriously.

Phrasal verbs exercises
They are just playing at learning English grammar. They should take it more seriously.

15. What does stick at it mean?

This slang phrase means to keep doing something without giving up.

Please stick at your English studies. Your listening, fluency, and grammar will improve if you keep practicing.

16. What is an example of work at in a sentence?

You need to keep working at your English listening ability. You only scored 4 out of 20 on the EFL test (English as a Foreign Language).

17. How to use be at in a sentence

You can use be, am, is, are, was, were, or been with at.

The kids were at the park all afternoon.
I was at the beach
We are at the English school

18. How do you use nod at in a sentence?

Put nod at before the subject of a sentence.

I nodded at Mark when he came into the room as a way of saying hello.

19. Wink at idiom meaning and example

When you wink at someone, it is usually in a humorous way. One eye is closed briefly.

Tracey winked at her friend, who then laughed.

20. Keep at it English meaning

This English expression means to continue doing something, also to have the determination to not quit.

You should keep at learning EFL. If you quit now, all that hard work with grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary, and listening will go to waste.

Note: EFL means English as a Foreign Language.

 phrasal verbs ending with at, in, on
Keep at your marathon training. You will improve with more time.

Answers to common questions about phrasal verbs:

Does your phrasal verbs list and table include the most common phrasal verbs using the word at?

Yes, the table includes the most common phrasal verbs that include at . Such as: as work at, look at and keep at.

Do you have phrasal verb examples?

Yes, if you check out our table you can see the complete list of 20 phrasal verbs including the word at. You will also be able to see 20 awesome examples for beginners of English if you click here.

Some advice on improving your English ability

english test, pass, improve skill, fluency, vocabulary, grammar, listening ability
Use idioms and phrases to improve your English ability

We have explored phrasal verbs that use the word "at", and how they can accelerate your English ability. If you can use these expressions, (in moderation, of course) you will sound more natural in your English conversational usage. Try to include them in various conversational situations as and when you are able to. Go for it English students!

Keep studying phrasal verbs and idioms every day, use them frequently but only in the right situation, and you will be an idiom master before you know it! If you would like to read more about learning English, please check our other blog posts which cover many topics regarding the study of English.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write away at the bottom here.