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Phrasal Verbs

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
Non-separable phrasal verbsThey 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 verbsThey 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 down in the middle of a traffic jam.
-    Turn up – (appear/come)
Tom turned up unexpectedly.

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.  

Particle Meaning
UpAn upward movement, an increase, an improvement, completing, ending, approaching.
In/Into Inward movement, Inclusion
OnContinue, on a surface, attachment
AwayOut of sight, leave
Out Outward movement, finishing
DownDownward movement, decrease, completing, ending
OverOn top
Doing something thoroughly
Off Not including, away, separating 

Exercises Phrasal Verbs

If you want to do exercises with phrasal verbs click on:

 Phrasal Verbs

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