Here is a list of commonly used phrasal verbs with the word back, plus examples of how to use the phrasal verbs in everyday conversation.
1. Answer back
Answering back is to reply to someone in an authority role in a rude argumentative style. For example a child answering back to his mother when told to clean his room.
Timmy was a rude boy. He would always answer back at his parents. /When your boss asks you to do something, do it. Don’t answer back at him/her.
2. Back somebody up
to back somebody up means to provide them with support publically. In this same way, you can also back up a story, meaning that you support the story or validate it being true.
I didn’t take your sandwich. Scott can back me up because he was with me all day. /Do you remember that time you had to back Tony up when he got in a fight?
3. Back something up
to back something up is a term often used in technology conversation. When you back something up, it means that you make a copy of it to protect yourself from loss.
Here are ABX Services, we back our work up daily on Google Drive and internal servers. /Back up your phone regularly to protect yourself from losing your photos and contacts.
4. Back up
to Back up can also mean to move backward. It’s both used figuratively, such as moving backward in time or a conversation. And literally, in the case of taking a step backward.
Wait, let’s back up for a minute. Did you say you were in Vegas last weekend? /We’re standing too close to the water. Let’s back up because I don’t want to get wet.
5. Back down
to back down means to give up or a fight/argument. Or, to let go of something you’re defending in a fight/argument.
If a hunter kills the Alpha male, the rest of the lions will back down from a fight. /Animal rights are important. I will never back down in my struggle to protect the rights of field mice.
6. Back into
the phrasal verb back into is most commonly used when talking about driving a car. It means to move backward into a space (such as a garage) or to move backward and hitting an object.
I’m so sorry for backing into your mailbox. I didn’t see it there. /Some people rather backing into parking spots because it’s easier to get out.
7. Back onto
when one thing backs onto another thing, it means that they connect to each other from their back side. We often use the phrase back onto when talking about property.
The farm backs onto a beautiful lake which is where the cows go to drink. /My childhood home backed onto a park where I played every day.
8. Back out
to back out means to leave or quit. It’s both used in real terms, like backing out of a room. Or as a way to explain an action taken. It’s also associated with literally moving backward.
Gustave has backed out of the 100-meter race after breaking his leg last week. /Nearly a quarter of all accidents in America happen when backing out of the driveway.
9. Back off
To move away from or retreat from a fight, argument or confrontation.
You should back off now or I will punch you! /The hyena’s backed off when the lion roared.
10. Go back over
to go back over something means to repeat it or discuss it again for the second time.
Good teachers go back over what they taught in a lesson at least twice before moving to the next topic. /Can we go back over the safety steps again before jumping out of the plane?
11. Call someone back
when calling someone back, it means that the person had already called you before and that you call them in reply.
Can you please tell Tom I will call him back? I’m in a meeting right now. /I need to call few people back this afternoon.
12. Come back
Coming back means to return to a place you were before. It can be a physical place or a place in a conversation.
When will you come back to Amsterdam next? I’d love to see you. /Did you hear that Justin Bieber is coming back to Tokyo for a second concert?
13. Fall back
Fall back means to withdraw or retreat to a previous position.
The general told his army to fall back because they were losing the battle. /If I ever fail at being an actor, my fall back plan is to work at my dad’s shop.
14. Get back
Get back means to either regain something that was yours before or to return to a place you were before.
Can I get back that $20 you borrowed from me last week? /I will get back home from work by about 5 pm today.
15. Hold back
When something or someone holds back, it stops or hinders itself or another from saying or doing something.
I had to hold myself back from yelling at that customer yesterday. /Steve Jobs’ success in this younger years was held back by his large ego.
16. Keep back
When someone or something keeps back it stay at a distance from the subject.
Parents should keep their kids back from the edge of the train platform. /Zoos have barriers to keep visitors back from the lion cages.
17. Push back #1
Push back means a negative opposing response/reply to something said or physically done.
The public pushed back with negative comments after United Airways released their statement. /I’m proud of my son who pushed back when bullied at school.
18. Push back #2
To push back also means to delay or postpone the time of an arrangement. Often used in business and formal scenarios.
The flight’s departure has been pushed back due to the snow storm. /We need to push the meeting back to Monday.
19. Ring back
to ring someone back has the same meaning as call back. It means to phone someone in return to a previous phone call they made to you. Often because you were either not able to finish the conversation with them, or missed their call.
She said she would ring me back after she finished eating dinner. /I love how the call centers ring you back when they have someone available to talk. I hated waiting in queues on the phone.
20. Set back
Set back is the phrasal verb of the noun setback which means a small problem or event which slows or temporarily reverses your progress.
The factory fire has set us back on our deadline. /Sarah’s poor reaction to her medicine has set her recovery back.
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