What is a Phrasal Verb?
A phrasal Verb is a combination of a normal verb and a particle (adverb or preposition) whose meaning is usually different from the meaning of the verb on its own.
Phrasal verbs can be transitive
(those which take a direct object) or intransitive
(those which don’t take a direct object).
Transitive Phrasal Verbs
|Type of Phrasal Verb ||Explanation ||Examples |
|Non-separable phrasal verbs||They cannot separate the verb from the particle. The particle must follow the verb. |
- Mary looked after my dog while I was away.
- I came across an old book of my father’s in the attic.
- The teacher went over last week’s topic.
- John called on Mary but she wasn’t home.
|Separable phrasal verbs||They have two structures. When the direct object is in the form of a pronoun (it, her, etc.), the particle must follow the pronoun, not the verb: A terrorist blew it up (Not: A terrorist blew up it). When the direct object is not a pronoun it can follow either the verb or the particle.|
- The building is on fire. A terrorist blew up the building. A terrorist blew the building up.
- Mary called off the wedding the day before. Mary called the wedding off the day before. There isn’t going to be a wedding. Mary called it off.
Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
These phrasal verbs do not take an object, so the verb and the particle are always together.
- Get up – (Rise from bed)
I always get up
at six in the morning.
- Get away – (escape)
The dog got away
when we were bathing it.
- Break down – (stop functioning)
Our car broke dow
n in the middle of a traffic jam.
- Turn up – (appear/come)
Tom turned up
Meaning of the particles
Although many phrasal verbs have a different meaning from the verb when it is on its own, the particles may give us a clue about the meaning of the phrasal verb. Here is a list of the most common particles used in phrasal verbs and their meanings.
|Up||An upward movement, an increase, an improvement, completing, ending, approaching. |
|In/Into ||Inward movement, Inclusion|
|On||Continue, on a surface, attachment|
|Away||Out of sight, leave|
|Out ||Outward movement, finishing|
|Down||Downward movement, decrease, completing, ending|
|Through ||Doing something thoroughly|
|Off ||Not including, away, separating |
Exercises Phrasal Verbs
If you want to do exercises with phrasal verbs click on: