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Phrasal verbs in history-taking

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Phrasal verbs are often used in informal spoken English. Both patients and doctors may use them in consultations. A phrasal verb may have several meanings according to context.


Phrasal verb Example Meaning
bring on Is there anything special that brings on pain? cause
carry on Carry on taking the painkillers for another week. continue
come on When does the pain come on? start
give up My advice is to give up smoking? stop
put on I’ve put on a lot of weight in the last month or so. gain weight
turn out She had all the tests and it turned out to be cancer. happen in the end
turn up The rash just turned up out of nowhere. appear unexpectedly



1. Match the numbered questions (1 – 7) in B to the symptoms for the central nervous system (a – f). There are two questions for one of the symptoms.

a. headaches

b. hearing symptoms

c. faints

d. tingling (paraesthesiae)

e. fits

f. sleep patterns


2 . Read the extract from a consultation. In the numbered questions (1 – 4), is the doctor encouraging the patient to talk about her ideas (I), her concerns (C) or her expectations (E)? Look at C to help you.

Patient: I’m a bit concerned about my colic. I had a friend with something similar and it turned out to be more serious. It’s got me worried.

Doctor: (1) What do you mean by colic?

Patient: A pain in the stomach.

Doctor: (2) What do you think might have brought this on?

Patient: It just seemed to come on. I don’t know what it is.

Doctor: You said you were a bit worried because your friend had a similar problem. (3) What are your worries about this?

Patient: Yes, I had a friend. She turned out to have stomach cancer. She actually died in the end.

Doctor: (4) What were you hoping I could do for you today?

Patient: I just want to know that I don’t have anything too serious.


3 . Complete the sentences with phrasal verbs. Look at D to help you.

1. The headaches …………… ……………… in the morning.

2. However much I eat, I don’t seem to ………… …………… any weight.

3. I’ve tried to ………… …………….... smoking several times.

4. I’m so depressed I don’t feel I can ………………… ………………. .

5. He thought he had stomach ache but it ……………… …………….. to be cancer.

Lesson 4

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