Keep Calm and Carry On! Phrasal Verbs for Adversity

adversityWe face problems – some big, some small – every day of our lives.  Today’s set of phrasal verbs is useful for talking about the adversity that we face. With a little practice you will be able to overcome even the most complicated phrasal verb!

Pull through/ – to survive, with difficulty, a life-threatening illness or injury

  • It looked like Paul wasn’t going to come out of the coma after the rock climbing accident, but somehow he pulled through and now they expect him to make a full recovery.

Note: This usage is not to be confused with the literal meaning of this verb/preposition combination(which can be separated). For example:

  • To properly tie the knot you have to pull the free end of the rope through the loop.

Go without/ – to live (survive) in the absence of something important

  • The mother went without food for five days so her children wouldn’t starve.

Note: It sounds strange, but when talking about living in the absence of something less vital, we use the phrasal verb “live without,” like in the example below:

  • I lost my phone last week and realized that I could live without

Make do with/ – to use an improvised substitute

  • We don’t have any wine glasses, so we’ll just have to make do with our regular juice glasses.

Note: We can eliminate “with” and still retain a similar meaning of “improvising a substitution or solution,” but in that case we can’t specify substitute. For example:

  • They requested forty chairs but there are only 35, and it’s too late to get more, so we have to make do.

Carry on/ – to continue one’s actions (despite distractions, obstacles, or problems)

  • When the team’s coach quit unexpectedly, it was very disappointing for the team, but they carried on and won several more games to finish the season.

Note: We often hear this combination in the context of air travel. In that case, the verb is separable and refers to bags or items that we take to our seat on a plane.

  • When I flew to New York, I didn’t want the baggage handlers to damage my guitar, so I carried it on.

Please visit our phrasal verbs homepage for more information and practice!