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Hello, this is Luke from Luke’s English Podcast and this year I am teaching you a phrasal verb every day. I hope that I can keep this up, but err, we will just have to see. Now, today’s phrasal verb is TO CHIP IN


…several meanings as usual.

The first meaning is when you contribute a small amount of money to help someone buy a gift for somebody. Okay? This often happens at work, when it’s someone’s birthday. Someone, in the office, organises a kind of collection to help to pay for a gift for that person.

So, what might happen is they would say, maybe, in a meeting, they might say:

– “We are having a bit of whip-round for Bill’s birthday. So, if you would like to just CHIP IN a few pounds that would be great. Then, we would be able to buy something nice for Bill. Okay? We like Bill. Everyone likes Bill, of course they do. How could you not like Bill? So, If you fancy buying something for him, just, you know, just CHIP IN a few pounds. Maybe, you could CHIP IN a dollar bill for Bill”.

That it was a joke.

– “Yeah, if you are willing to just, you know, CHIP IN a few pounds, that would be great and then we’ll be able to buy something for Bill”

Okay? So CHIP IN.

Now, you would say: – “CHIP IN a few pounds” or “CHIP IN with a few pounds” or “CHIP IN on the gift” or “CHIP IN on the gift for Bill”

Okay, so, another meaning of the expression CHIP IN would be to like – if two people are having a conversation and you want to say something in their conversation, you want, kind of, make a comment. You wanna (= want to) join in their conversation and make a quick comment, then you would CHIP IN.

Alright? You hear, let’s say, for example, there are two people in an underground station. You are queueing up in an underground station, because you want to top up your Oyster card and you hear two tourists talking and they are saying something like this:

[TOURIST 1] – “Em, which, what kind of ticket do you think we should get to South Kensington station? Do you think we should get a single ticket or return or travel card, or what?”

[TOURIST 2] – “I do not know, I mean, I don’t know which one is more expensive the return journey or the sing… I do not know.”

…and you kind of, listening to this, you think yourself – “Ahaha, tourists! I know what to say! They should buy an oyster card. It is simple! I know this, because I have listened to Luke’s English Podcast!”

You think “I’ll help them”, “I’ll say something”.

So, you go over to them and you say:

[YOU] – “Sorry, I could not help overhearing what you’re saying. I would like just CHIP IN if I can”.

You might say:

[YOU] – “Sorry, can I just CHIP IN here? I couldn’t help overhearing what you were saying. You should definitely get an oyster card. It’s much cheaper. Just, buy an oyster card and then, you can top up every day and it’s actually cheaper. Tickets or journeys on an oyster card are cheaper than other tickets. Okay? So, you should get an oyster card”

… and the tourist would say:

[TOURIST 1] – “How did you, how do you know that? It is amazing! It is really good advice! How do you know?”

… you would say:

[YOU] – “Well, the reason I know is because I have listened to Luke’s English Podcast! Specifically, the episode about “how to use the London Underground” (click the link to listen) and it’s full of really good advice. In fact, I suggest that you stop whatever you are doing now. Just go back to the hotel and, make sure you listen to this episode before you do anything else in London. Okay? Because you need to learn how to use the Tube before you try and travel anywhere in London. Okay? I just wanted to CHIP IN with a bit of advice”

… and the tourists go:

[TOURIST 2] – “Wow, that is genuinely good advice and I think, what I’ll do now is to take that advice. We’re not gonna go to the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

[TOURIST 1] – “No! We’re gonna go back to the hotel. We’re gonna download Luke’s English Podcast before we do anything else”

Okay? Good! That’s just another example of TO CHIP IN.


That’s it. There will be another one of these tomorrow and I will speak to you then.

Bye bye bye bye…

  • Vladimir Vladimirovich

    I moved to a different school, and haven’t become acquainted with anyone yet. I always see groups of people, but i just don’t know how to chip in and start a conversation with them.

  • Denis Paraschuk

    There will be International Women’s Day tomorrow (March 8). So, today we’re going to chip in on the gifts for our ladies.

    Today’s meeting: ““Excuse me, could I just chip in here? Because, I absolutely disagree with what you’re talking about! Let’s stop this unnecessary discussion.”

  • amir

    i remember a scene in the movie ,reservoir dogs. they were in a cafe and at the end they wanted to tip the waitress but one of the members of the gang refused to chip in, cause he thought its not his fault that they don’t make enough money.

  • Ricardo

    Luke you’re a good teacher, I know because I’m Spanish History teacher in Canary Isles. Thanks a lot.

  • Juan

    Hey, Luke, am in love with your accent, how could i speak the same way like you?

  • Ksenia

    Luke, could you, please, give a link to the podcast about the Tube you mention?
    Thank you

  • Donald

    Ok, let me see if I have understood. My friends and me are chipping in with money because we want to buy somebody a present. So, if we are three people, each of us will chip in with 30 pounds as the present is 90 pounds. As a consequence, we are clubbing together to collect 90 pounds. Does it make sense?

    • Very good, yes!

      • Donald

        Ok, thanks a lot! Finally the penny has dropped! Have a nice day.

  • Donald

    Hi Luke,first of all thanks for this section as prasal verbs are one of the most difficult topics in English. Just a question : is the verb TO CHIP IN synonymous with TO CLUB TOGETHER? I think so, but maybe there is a slight difference. I give you an example: ” We are clubbing together in order to buy him / her a present ” – “We are chipping in to buy him / her a present”. Is the meaning of the two statements the same? Thanks in advance.

    • Not exactly the same. To ‘chip in’ means to contribute some money. To ‘club together’ just means that everyone is joining together, and everyone is chipping in.
      Chip in = contribute
      Club together = do something as a group