7 Phrasal Verbs to Talk About Love and Relationships

Have you been learning English for a long time and still struggling to speak it and understand it comfortably?

You’re not alone. So many of my students come to me with that same problem. They can read English well, have small conversations, and with some effort, understand most of what they hear. But they’ve been at the same level for years. They want to have deeper conversations, express more complicated ideas and understand things effortlessly and they don’t know how.

You might be wondering: why do some people continue to improve and achieve higher levels of English fluency, while others stay stuck at the same level for years? You might be thinking that some people are just born that way; naturally good at learning languages. But I’ve taught and observed the progress of hundreds of students, and I can assure you: your English ability is like a muscle. If you train it correctly, it will get stronger. 

Now, the question is what’s blocking your progress? 

From my teaching experience, one of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is neglecting phrasal verbs. 

Some traditional English courses, schools and textbooks ignore phrasal verbs or just focus on them superficially because of the common misconception that they’re only used in informal conversations. This is simply false. In fact, the book Macmillan Phrasal Verbs Plusstates:

“Expert speakers use phrasal verbs in all kinds of contexts; not just in informal conversations or emails, but quite often in formal and technical writing too. There are many contexts where a phrasal verb is simply the best, most natural sounding way of expressing an idea and so students should be encouraged to use them.

And yes, some phrasal verbs are only used in casual settings, but even those are essential to achieve a higher level of fluency in English. Think of it this way, most of us don’t write academic essays in our daily lives. Instead, we use colloquial language when we have conversations with friends and colleagues. So learning and practicing informal English is absolutely necessary.

This is why I dedicated a whole series to phrasal verbs in this blog. I group the phrasal verbs in a functional way to help you learn how to use them in everyday contexts. For example, in the past I shared  7 Phrasal Verbs to Express Your Feelingsand 7 Phrasal Verbs to Describe Your Friends’. Today, I’m going to share with you 7 phrasal verbs we commonly use to talk about current or past romantic relationships. Let’s get started. 

1. Ask out

[asks out; asked out; asked out; asking out]

I think it’s fine for girls to ask boys out. I actually prefer it.
— Zac Efron

When you ask someone out, you invite them to go to the cinema, restaurant, etc. because you want to start a romantic or sexual relationship with them. So we can say,

“He’s too shy to ask her out.”

“Why don’t you ask him out the next time you see him?”


Invite out.

Grammar Points

1. We can separate this phrasal verb: 

“He finally asked Maria out.”

“He finally asked out Maria.“

2. Ask out is commonly used with for:

“She asked me out for dinner.”

“She asked me out for a coffee.”

3. Ask out is commonly used with to:

“She asked me out to dinner.”

“She asked me out to a coffee shop.”  

Common Collocations

To/for dinner, to/for lunch, for coffee, for a drink, to the movies (US), to the cinema (UK)

2. Go out

[goes out; went out; went out; going out]

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If you go out with someone, you’re in a romantic relationship with them. For example,

“They’ve been going out for 2 months."

“We went out for a few weeks but I decided to end it.”



Grammar Points

1. We can’t separate this phrasal verb.

2. We use with after go out:

“I used to go out with a French guy.”

3. We commonly use it with together:

“How long have you been going out together?”

3. Open up

[opens up; opened up; opened up; opening up]

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When you open up to someone, you start to talk more about yourself and your inner feelings and emotions. So we can say,

“I’ve never opened up to anyone like I do with you.”

“Last night was the first time that she opened up about her feelings.”

Grammar Points

1. We can’t separate this phrasal verb.

2. We use to after open up:

“He’s finally starting to open up to me.”

4. Move in

[moves in; moved in; moved in; moving in]

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When you move in with someone, you start living in the same home with them. For example,

“I asked her to move in with me.”

Moving in with him is not a good idea.”


Move out

Grammar Points

1. We can’t separate this phrasal verb.

2. We use with after move in:

“I think I moved in with him too soon.”

3. We commonly use it with together:

“They moved in together a few weeks ago.”

5. Settle down

[settles down; settled down; settled down; settling down]

When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious.
— Sheryl Sandberg

When you settle down with a partner, you’re ready to make a commitment to them and start living a stable life with them. So we can say,

“She’s not ready to settle down with one person yet.”

“I think he’s too young to settle down.”

Grammar Points

1. We can’t separate this phrasal verb:

2. We use with after settle down:

“He said that he wants to settle down with me.”

6. Lead on

[leads on; led on; led on; leading on]

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When you lead someone on, you deceive them especially to make them think that you love them. For example,

“He led her on. He was only interested in her money.”

“I thought she loved me, but she was just leading me on.”

Grammar Points

We can separate this phrasal verb:

“You’re leading the guy on.”

“You’re leading on the guy.”

7. Break up

[breaks up; broke up; broken up; breaking up]

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When you break up with someone, you end your relationship with them. So we can say,

“He hasn’t seen her since they broke up.”

“They broke up last year.”


Separate, split up.

Grammar Points

1. We can’t separate this phrasal verb.

2. We use with after break up:

“She’s breaking up with him tonight.”

I have a little challenge for you today. Practice what you’ve just learned and use these phrasal verbs in a paragraph or a little story and share it with us in the comments below. I’d love to read your answers! And if you found this post useful, please share it with your friends.

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