Learning Materials Lessons

Learning English phrasal verbs with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”

January 25, 2013

Have you heard of Gotye? Yeah . . . we thought so! Gotye’s song “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been a huge hit since it came out in 2011, and most people loved the song instantly. English teachers at CISL felt the same love for the song and its lyrics . . . although they also couldn’t help but notice that the song has great examples of phrasal verbs! Check out the lyrics to Gotye’s song below, and note the phrasal verbs in bold. (Are you confused about phrasal verbs? Skip to our article on them for a little review before continuing with this lesson.)

[Gotye:]
Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[Kimbra:]
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

[Gotye:]
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[x2]
Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
Somebody

Let’s take a look at the phrasal verbs used in the song:

  • Cut me off: 1. to completely take someone out of your life. I cut Sarah off after I heard that she kissed my ex-boyfriend.
    •  2. to stop supporting someone financially.  His parents cut him off after he got bad grades in college. Now he has to pay for tuition on his own. 
    • 3. to quickly move your car in front of another car when driving. Whoa! That guy just cut me off! I almost hit the back of his car! 
  • Make out: act; pretend. John made out like he didn’t care that his team lost the championship, but I know he was really upset. NOTE: There are many meanings of the phrasal verb “make out.” This is just one example of many!
  • Screwed me over: to treat someone badly. My old roommate moved out and didn’t pay the last month’s rent. He really screwed me over. 
  • Reading into (every word): to take everything seriously. Jack reads into every word I say and always gets offended. The other day I said that I didn’t like salty foods and then he said that I must have hated the popcorn he made me last night. He needs to relax!
  • Let it go: to forget about something; to not worry. I’m sorry that you didn’t get the job you wanted. But you need to let it go so that you can focus on your next interview and your future! NOTE: Some grammarians argue that this is not actually a phrasal verb, but an idiom. Either way, it is useful!
  • Hung up on (someone/something): to not be able to forget about someone or something. Sarah is so hung up on Matt that she can’t date other people. It is really sad. 


Cover image courtesy of Gotye.com.

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