Phrasal Verbs

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If you are thinking about phrasal verbs it means that you are quite advanced! Congratulations! The bad news is that there is no end to learning phrasal verbs. There is no way for a non-native speaker to understand the meaning of some phrasal verbs based strictly on the meaning of the verb and/or that of the preposition that follows it. The good news is that there are ways of organizing them, which will help to memorize many of them.

Phrasal verbs are verbs that are followed by prepositions or adverbs (particles). Their meaning can change depending on the particle. For example:

                • Turn up the volume. (increase)
                • Turn in the final paper. (submit)

They can look exactly the same but have different meanings. For example:

                • The plane took off at 6 PM. (depart)
                • He is taking off his coat. (unclothe)

There are four different types of phrasal verbs:

1. Intransitive

  • no direct object
                • The plane took off .
                • The two girls get along famously.

2. Transitive and separable

  • direct object
  • the preposition can be separate from the verb
  • if the object is a noun, it can go before or after the preposition
  • if the object if a pronoun, it must go before the preposition
                • The grandmother told off the children.
                • The grandmother told the children off.
                • The grandmother told them off.
                • The grandmother told off them.

3. Transitive and inseparable

  • direct object
  • preposition is not separate from the verb
                • I look after my child.
                • I look after him.
                • I look my child after.
                • I look him after.

4. Verbs with two particles

  • transitive and inseparable
                • We ran out of milk.
                • We have run out of it.
                • We have run it out of.

Feel free to download and use the PDF version of this lesson:
Phrasal Verbs


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