leave out: meaning and explanation

We can use the phrasal verb leave out in several different ways.

If you leave somebody out (of something), you don’t include them. This might be by accident, e.g. I tried to thank everyone in my speech but somehow I left out my parents. It could also be deliberate or because you choose to exclude someone – children often leave out other children from their games, for example.

As well as people, we can also leave out things. For example, if you are cooking a curry and you know your friend doesn’t like spicy food, you might decide to leave out the chillies.

You might also decide to leave out information in some situations, e.g. When I told my parents about the holiday I decided to leave out the bit about the car accident.

We can also use this phrasal verb as an adjective – left out, This describes the horrible feeling of being excluded. e.g. Jess felt a bit left out when she heard that all her friends had planned a holiday without her.

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

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

, . .
you're about, of . I can't have another .
you're arguing about, me out of . I can't be bothered have another .

…I can’t be bothered to have another row…

‘Row’ is a more informal alternative to ‘argument’. e.g. I had a huge row with my wife last night, but we’re friends again now.

Discussion questions

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

  • Can you remember a time when you felt left out?
  • Have you ever deliberately excluded someone from something? Why? Do you feel bad about it?
  • Can you remember a time when you cooked a meal and left out an important ingredient?

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