inseparable phrasal verb: get by (on)


I have a phrasal verb for you today which is very useful in these difficult economic times: get by. It is used when we want to talk about a person who is able to survive on a small amount of money. For example:

I have to get by on only $1500 a month. I need to find a better paying job.

Right now, I’m getting by on my salary, but I’m not able to save any money. It’s very frustrating!

My best friend just lost his job. I’m so worried about him. How is he going to get by?

A: You don’t have much money. How do you live?

B: Don’t worry about me. I get by.

As you can see, sometimes we use the word “on” after “get by”. When we do that, we focus on the salary or the amount of money the person has. If we don’t use the word “on” in the sentence, as in the last two examples, we’re focusing on the survival of the person. Therefore, when someone asks the question, “How is he going to get by?” it means, “How is he going to survive?”. Also, in the last example, when the person says, “I get by.” the meaning is “I’m surviving.”


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