• Tara Cull

Common phrasal verbs for Architects and Landscape Architects

Updated: Oct 8

English for Architects and landscape architects can be very specific however in any business setting it can also seem like everyone in the office is speaking only with phrasal verbs and idioms. To help you build this essential vocabulary, every fortnight I'll update this page with the most common phrasal verbs used by architects and landscape architects in their work. I'll focus on using real-life examples. These are listed below in alphabetical order.

To keep up-to-date with this page as it grows and have access to even more vocabulary sign up to the fortnightly vocabulary builder newsletter.

All these definitions come from the Cambridge Dictionary.


Aim for: To strive to accomplish a particular goal (aim for + noun).

We are aiming for a maximum amount of sunlight in this room.

Aim to do (something): to plan or hope to achieve something (aim to + verb).

We aim to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide levels by planting trees.

Apply to (apply something to something: to make use of something for a practical or real situation)

We applied the rules of the standard to the design of the new public space


Back up: in this context (to become congested

The traffic is starting to back up on the freeway/highway.

(not to be confused with a backup which is, for example, saving a second copy of a file as a backup)

Boil down to: If a situation or problem boils down to something, that is the main reason for it

This all boils down to one thing - the client's expectations which need to be managed carefully.

blend in: to look or seem the same as the surroundings and not easily noticeable.

Without a steel edge around the garden bed, the planting between the pavers will really blend in with the rest of the garden beds.

Break down: to separate something into smaller parts

Can you break down the design into the three different stages?


clear up something: to remove doubts, confusion or wrong ideas. 

Before we finish this meeting, I want to clear up any confusion you might have.

cut in: interrupt someone while they are speaking (one meaning)

Sorry, can I just cut in here to say that the architect is coming on Tuesday next week so we'll be able to discuss in more detail then?




figure out: to understand or to solve something. 

I've been trying to figure out how to use Vectorworks for the last week.

fill (someone) in: inform someone more fully of a matter. 

"I'm going to fill you in on a few things I've been working on recently."

follow up: to stay in contact with someone to get something done or achieved.

I just wanted to follow up to see where you're at with those plans?

Where you're at - A question to ask someone how far along they are with finishing something. 

Can you send a follow up email after our discussion today? 


get underway: to start something

With all the delays and restrictions happening I'm concerned we won't be able to get underway until early next year.

go about: begin or carry on with doing an activity or task

I think we are going about this in the wrong way.

go ahead: permission to proceed or continue with something

Can I schedule a meeting with the Engineer for tomorrow? Sure, go ahead.

go into: investigate or inquire into something

I think it would be good to go into more detail about some of the frustrations we are having with the rest of the team.

go through with: perform an action despite challenges or difficulty

I think we will go through with our initial plan and see how they respond.

go over: consider examine or check something

Could you go over this email for me? Could we go over the plans together?






look into: to try to discover the facts about something

If we are going to slightly raise the level of the adjacent pavers, we will need to look into a masonry waterproof product for the bricks.





point out: to tell someone about some specific information. 

"One thing I'd like to point out is we can't get access to the site until the end of the month." 


run through: to go through every aspect of something.

"Today we're going to run through the electrical design." 


sign off on : to give official approval for something 

"The purpose of today's presentation is to get sign off on the concept stage of the design."

sort itself out: to resolve or stop being a problem without anyone having to take action.

I think you should just forget about it. It will sort itself out in the end. 

sort out something: to successfully deal with a problem or situation.

I'm going to call them. We really need to sort this out before the problem becomes bigger than it needs to.

step in: become involved in a difficult situation, especially in order to help or to stop something.

I'm really happy you stepped in to speak to the builder before they finished because now with the open steel purlins and no roof we can have more plants.


think through: think about all the different parts or effects of (something) before arriving at a solution

That's a really great point. Can I think that idea through and get back to you with some other options before the end of the week?




wrap up (informal): to complete something successfully or finish doing it. 

Okay, we're going to need to wrap it up there.

I've got a few other projects I need to wrap up before I'll start this next one.





About ArchiEnglish

Here you can find information about teaching English for architects, landscape architects and designers. 

Follow ArchiEnglish

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Contact ArchiEnglish

© 2020 by ArchiEnglish