#39 – TO GET BY

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= to have just enough of something to be able to do what you need to do
“my French is not very good, but I can get by”
Get by + on… Money
“It’s really hard to get by on a minimum wage “


Hello everybody in the Universe. Today’s phrasal verb is “to get by”. “To get by” and this means to have just enough of something to be able to do what you need to do, alright? So, to have just enough of something to be able to survive or to be able to manage a situation to get by, alright? For example I might say

– My French is not very good but basically I can get by

okay? For example. I can, you know, buy bread in a supermarket or that kind of thing. I can basically get by in a conversation but my French is not very good, alright? We typically use it with reference to money for example. It’s like

– I don’t have much money so it’s going to be really hard to get by this month

Or for example

– Many people living on a minimum wage find it very difficult to get by

And when you’re talking about money you can use the preposition ‘on’, okay? So,

– When I was a student I had to get by on just a 100 pounds a week

okay? To get by on certain amount of money, okay? That’s it. That’s it for this one. Just a short one. Speak to you again tomorrow. Bye!

  • Denis Paraschuk

    I drive a car is not so confident yet, but I’ll get by. For sure.

    It’s almost impossible to get by on a living wage in Ukraine.

  • María José

    The tough part of being an astress its some months you work a lot so you are able to make good money but maybe the following month you just have to get by on what you earned the previous one.

  • Anonymous

    I am a new fan and i must say i like your stuff…..keep it up

  • Pingback: 175. The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #1 | Luke's ENGLISH Podcast()

  • Andrzej

    I think it’s worth adding that a phrase “to get by with something” is also fine. For example: Jeff is able to get by with only two tons of biscuits a day.
    Luke, please correct me if I’m talking rubbish.

    • I would say “get by on two tons of biscuits a day” myself.

      • Andrzej

        Thanks, you are a teacher after all but Cambridge Dictionary gives this example: “We can get by with four computers at the moment…” Is that correct because computers are not (usually) edible unlike biscuits? So, we can survive on very few biscuits but survive with only few computers? Is that the difference?

      • OK, how about this:
        get by on – for consumable things (like money, food, oxygen)
        get by with – for things you use, but don’t consume (e.g. computers, lights, staff)

      • Andrzej

        Thank you very much, Luke. This is the difference between a teacher and even an excellent dictionary, even more so because the teacher is exceptional :)