Phrasal verbs may have a reputation for being confusing – why, after all, does look up mean something so different than look over? – but, they should be appreciated equally as much for their power as for their complexity. As the above example shows, changing the complement of a verb can radically alter its meaning (from “research” to “review”),* and as the following examples prove, can allow us to use a single word – blow – to describe a number of unique situations.
Blow In – to arrive suddenly
- When James blows in unexpectedly things at our house can go from quiet to complicated in no time!
Note: This phrasal verb can be used to describe things (as in weather) or people (in which case it has a meaning that is slightly more negative [and often used to describe unexpected visitors]).
Blow Out – to extinguish with breath or went
- “Don’t forget to make a wish when you blow out the birthday candles!”
Blow Over – to happen without creating further difficulties
- I think that Zack should wait until the controversy about his grades blows over before asking his parents for a little extra spending money.
Note: As the above example demonstrates sometime problems only “blow over” after a problem has already happened but in which the situation is improving.
Blow … Up – to explode or cause to explode
- Building renovations often start when a demolition team blows up the old structure to make space for the new one.
Note: This phrasal verb is inseparable with the first definition (i.e., it blew up) but separable with the second definition (i.e., I blew it up); this is determined by whether the action being described is active or passive.
Blow Up – to become very angry
- Mark blew up at Stacy after she damaged his new car.
Note: Although inseparable like the passive use of blow up above, this phrasal verb’s alternate meaning is made obvious by its use to describe people (not things).
For more information about phrasal verbs and their use, check our other posts about phrasal verbs!