run out: meaning and explanation

to run out of something= to use something up/finish something, meaning that there is none remaining

This phrasal verb can be used both with physical things (e.g. food) as well as more abstract things (e.g. time, patience, money, energy).

It is common to use the phrasal verb in the present perfect in order to focus on a present result, e.g. We have run out of milk = we need to go and buy some/I can’t make a cup of tea.

The phrasal verb can also be used in the continuous, to communicate the idea that something is close to being gone/used up, e.g. We’re running out of sugar – can you add it to the shopping list?

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

Dictation #1

Accent: Scotland

the exam went , but I time couldn't finish .
On the the exam went pretty , but I out of time couldn't finish the question.

…On the whole, the exam went pretty well

On the whole = in general/overall. e.g. On the whole, the weather in the UK is better than people think.

Discussion questions

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

  • Is there anything in your kitchen that you have run out of/are running out of?
  • Have you ever run out of patience with someone? What happened?
  • Can you think of a time when you ran out of time or money?

Was this helpful?

Tagged in: