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put on: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb to put something on has several different meanings.

  • to put something on = to dress yourself in something, to place something on your body.

For example, you night put on clothes, a hat, glasses, shoes, etc.

. .
  • to put something on = to activate a machine or device

Useful collocations with this meaning include: put a light on, put the kettle on, put the oven on, put some music on, etc.

Here’s an example (RP):

  • to put something on = to fake something, to behave in an unnatural or artificial way.

For example, if you’re pretending to speak in a different or unnatural way, you’re putting on an accent or a funny voice. If someone thinks you’re just pretending to be angry, upset, or hurt, then they think you’re just putting it on.

Here’s an example in an RP accent:

Here’s another example, this time in a North American accent:

  • to put something on = to provide something, especially as a special service or as part of a special occasion.

For example, someone might put on a special meal to mark an occasion, a company might put on a party to celebrate good results.


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Can you remember a time when you thought someone was faking something, i.e. putting it on? Have you ever done it?

Photo by Nick de Partee on Unsplash

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