7 Phrasal Verbs to Talk About Your Feelings

This list of phrasal verbs will boost your English vocabulary and help you sound more natural when speaking in English.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Phrasal verbs are REALLY difficult to learn.

You might be avoiding them because there are thousands of them and you’re not really sure how to use them properly.

The problem is that not taking the time to learn and practice phrasal verbs can make it really difficult for you to understand spoken English.

That’s because sometimes a phrasal verb is simply the most natural-sounding way of expressing an idea. Some phrasal verbs have one-word synonyms, but these alternatives are often unnatural and too formal for normal conversations.

Here is a simple example. We usually say, “She was speaking too fast so I asked her to slow down” and not, “She was speaking too fast so I asked her to decelerate”.

So do you see why phrasal verbs are so indispensable?

Mastering phrasal verbs is difficult but it’s not impossible.

You can learn phrasal verbs and you can lose your fear of using them. The question is — how?

Of course the first thing you need to do is include them in your English practice routine.

But don’t confuse yourself with a massive list. You’ll get frustrated and you’ll give up.

Instead, make a list of a few phrasal verbs (I suggest 4 to 7) and practice them regularly until you're comfortable with them.

Make sure that you group them in a way that makes sense to you. For example, in today’s blog post, I focus on 7 common phrasal verbs that we use to describe emotions.

When you finish reading the post, take the time to make some sentences with these phrasal verbs that are true for you. Connecting new words to emotions or real situations in your life is a very powerful technique. You’re more likely to remember things that you can relate to, things that create an emotional reaction in you.

Ready to learn some useful phrasal verbs that will help you sound more natural? Then, let’s get started with the first phrasal verb.


1. Crack up

[cracks up; cracked up; cracked up; cracking up]

(informal) If you crack up, or if something or someone cracks you up, you laugh suddenly and a lot. For example,

“She cracked up when I told her what happened.”

“It just cracks me up what some people say.”

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb. So we can say,

“Her joke cracked up the class.”

“Her joke cracked the class up.”

Common Collocations

We often use this phrasal verb with ‘laughing’. For example,

“We all just cracked up laughing.”


2. Stir up

[stirs up; stirred up; stirred up; stirring up]

When you make someone feel an emotion (often a bad one), you stir it up. For example,

“These kinds of questions stir up anxiety.”

“The pictures stirred up a lot of memories.”


Arouse, provoke, incite

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb. So we can say,

“Talking about this stirs up a lot of emotions.”

“Talking about this stirs a lot of emotions up.”

Common Collocations

We often use this phrasal verb with these words: animosity, controversy, feelings, emotions, trouble, resentment

I think the job of artists is to stir things up.
— Jeremy Irons

3. Light up

[lights up; lit up; lit up; lighting up]

When someone’s eyes or face light up, they suddenly look happy or excited. For example,

“Her face lit up when she saw us coming.”

“His eyes light up whenever he sees me.”



Grammar Points

1. We cannot separate this phrasal verb.

2. We often use light up + with

“His face lit up with delight because of you.”


4. Tear up

[tears up; teared up; teared up; tearing up]

If you tear up, you start to have tears in your eyes because you’re sad or happy. For example,

“He started to tear up when he said goodbye to us.”

“I teared up when I read her message.”

Grammar Points

We cannot separate this phrasal verb.


5. Freak out

[freaks out; freaked out; freaked out; freaking out]

(informal) If you freak out, or if something or someone freaks you out, you feel so angry, scared, or surprised that you can’t control yourself. For example,

“He freaked out when he saw the spider.”

“I freaked out when I realized that I was late for work.”


Anger, agitate, worry, excite, trip out, flip out

Grammar Points

1. We can separate this phrasal verb. So we can say,

“Meeting his parents freaked out Maria.”

“Meeting his parents freaked Maria out.”

2. We often use freak out with on:

“She freaked out on him.”


6. Take out on

[takes out on; took out on; taken out on; taking out on]

When you take it out on someone, you treat them badly because you feel tired, upset or angry even though it’s not their fault. For example,

“When she’s stressed out, she always takes it out on me.”

“I’m sorry I took it out on you.”



Grammar Points

1. We can separate this phrasal verb → Take something out on someone:

“Don’t take your anger out on me.”

2. We often use this phrasal verb with it:

“Don’t take it out on me.”

If you’ve got a problem, take it out on a drum.
— Neil Peart

7. Tell off

[tells off; told off; told off; telling off]

(informal) If you tell someone off, you speak to them angrily for doing something wrong. For example,

“If she does it again, he’s going to tell her off.”

“I was so mad at him that I told him off.”



Grammar Points

1. We can separate this phrasal verb.

“I told Maria off.”

“I told off Maria

2. We often use this structure → Tell someone off for doing something

“I told them off for lying to me.”

3. ‘Tell off’ is often used in the passive form":

“I got told off for driving carelessly.”


So can you think of any other phrasal verbs that we can use to describe emotions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.