Go over the many meanings of phrasal verbs with HOLD: hold on, hold off, hold up, hold down, hold back, hold against. Feel confident in the pronunciation and use of these phrases.
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Hold onto your hats! In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to discuss phrasal verbs that use the verb: HOLD.
What is a phrasal verb? A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition, adverb, or both. The combination creates a different meaning than the words on their own. We have a lot of these idiomatic phrases in English. Today we’ll discuss the phrasal verb ‘hold’.
Let’s start with the pronunciation. First, since HOLD is a verb, it’s a content word and will be stressed. So you want to use the shape of stress when saying HOLD.
Hold. An up – down shape in the voice.
It begins with the H consonant sound. You don’t need to make this sound too heavy, HH, HH, hh, hh. It’s a very light sound in American English. Just expel air from an open mouth, contracting the throat just a bit. Hh, hh. The mouth position doesn’t matter for the H, so you can get into position for the next sound, in this case, the OH diphthong. The OH diphthong in this word is a little different because of the Dark L that comes next. I round my lips more for the beginning of the sound than I do for other words with the OH diphthong. HO-llllld. Then I go into the Dark L, where the back part of my tongue pulls back. So the tongue tip stays forward, Hol-, but the back part of the tongue stretches back. Ll, ll. The lips can relax. Hollllld. And to end, the front part of the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth and releases for the D. Hold, hold.
The verb ‘hold’, on it’s own, means to carry, grasp, or support something in your arms or hands: I’m holding my YoutTube badge. It can also mean to keep someone or detain someone or something: The police will hold him over night.
Now let’s look at some of the common phrasal verbs with hold:
Hold on. This can mean “wait” or “stop”. We may use this in command form: Hold on, you’re over reacting. Here it means, stop what you’re saying, I think you’re over reacting. You’ll also hear it as question: Can you hold on a second? Tom, what time will we be done today? Yeah, I think I can do that. It can also be literal, if you were trying to give someone a ride on your motorcycle, you might say, “hold on tight!” – meaning they should literally grip tightly so they don’t fall off.
If you add ‘to’ to that phrasal verb – hold on to – you are saying “don’t let it go”. It can be a person or a thing, or even an emotion. For example, the team is holding on to the lead. They are still in the lead. He holds on to his belief in Santa Claus. Hold on to my purse while I use the restroom, please. In each of these examples someone is “not letting go” of something.
Hold off. When you “hold off” you’re delaying doing something. Let’s hold off on the announcement until next week. That means let’s delay the announcement. Hold off on running the report until you get the final numbers from me. This means, don’t do the report yet.
Hold up. This one is similar to “hold off” – it also means to delay something or someone. “I hope I’m not holding you up” means I hope I’m not delaying you. The bus held up traffic with all of its stops and starts. ‘Hold up’ can also refer to how long something will last – How long do you think this sunshine will hold up? This means, how long will it be sunny? Maybe it’s going to rain soon. My car isn’t holding up well, it’s already been to the repair shop twice.
Hold down. This one can mean physically holding something down. Hold down the picnic blanket so it doesn’t blow away. It can also mean to keep a job. ‘I just can’t hold down a job’ means I just can’t keep a job for very long, I keep getting fired. Or it can refer to not being able to eat food without vomiting. When I have the flu, I can’t hold anything down.
Hold down, hold up. They sound like they should be opposites but they’re not. They just have completely different meanings. This is what makes phrasal verbs interesting, and also, confusing.
Hold back. This means to restrain someone or something. If a friend was about to fight someone, you might hold him back. You would keep him from fighting. It can also be more figurative. You might use it regarding emotions. You always hold back your feelings, meaning, you never tell me how you really feel, you just say you’re okay.
Hold against and ‘hold it against’. These phrases have two meanings. You can literally hold something against something else. I’m holding the ice against my knee because I fell and it hurts. It can also mean that you hold a grudge against someone – meaning you will not forgive someone because of something they’ve done. You refuse to forget it. As in, I’m still upset about what she said. I hold it against her.
There’s a lot you can do with phrasal verbs that use the word HOLD. Create practice sentences for each of the phrasal verbs above to help you grasp and remember their meaning. Put one in the comments below.
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