drop out: meaning and explanation

to drop out of something = to leave school, university or a course without finishing your studies.

This phrasal verb can be used as a noun – a dropout is a person who left school/university without completing their course. Note that this word has negative connotations. e.g. If you don’t start studying, you’re going to end up being a dropout just like your brother.

To drop out can also be used more generally to say that someone is no longer participating in something. e.g. After 20 years, he decided to drop out of politics to spend more time with his family.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

Despite school 15, become a bestselling writer.
Despite out of school 15, he on become a bestselling writer.

…he went on to become

The phrasal verb to go on to do something can be used to describe steps in a sequence or process.

This could be stages in someone’s life or career e.g. After graduating he went on to become a surgeon.

It could also describe stages in a speech or essay e.g. I will begin by explaining the problem, and will then go on to talk about potential solutions.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Have you ever dropped out of something (e.g school, university, a course)? Why? Do you regret it?
  • Is there anything you regret not dropping out of?

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