Everyone remembers that one kid in elementary school. He was always mean to the skinny kid with glasses, laughing with his friends at the kids that weren’t popular. Recently, there has been a growing public discussion about these “bullies” and their abusive behavior, known as “bullying.” Our entry today will give you some useful expressions to participate in this discussion.
Beat … Up/ – to intentionally (and in some cases seriously) hurt someone, usually with several punches/kicks
- Bobby didn’t like it when Dan corrected him in math class, so he beat him up at the playground at recess.
Note: this phrasal verb is most commonly used in its separated form, as in the example above. However, when it is used in its unseparated form, it is usually in an informal passive voice construction with the auxiliary verb “get,” like in this example:
- When I was a kid I moved from place to place a lot with my family, and I got beat up constantly because I was always “the new kid.
Push … Around/ – to aggressively exercise influence on someone in order to make them obey
- Tom is always pushing me around. He always makes me do stupid things and everyone laughs at me.
Pick on/ – to verbal tease or annoy someone
- Although the other kids rarely bullied him, Mark was constantly picked on by the other kids at school.
Make fun of/ – to tell jokes about or mock someone or something
- The guys at work always make fun of me because I’m fat. I’m going to the gym, but I can’t seem to lose the weight.
Note: This verb applies to people and to their characteristics or attributes, as well as to things, as in the example below.
- I always make fun of my Dad’s sweaters. They’re so ridiculous!
Do you feel like English is pushing you around? You’re not the only one. Check out our phrasal verbs overview page and get some extra practice and more information!