A useful guide to phrasal verbs

by / Thursday, 02 October 2014

Phrasal verbs are an integral part of the English languageand there are many reasons why students should afford these a particular focus.  Native speakers use the very frequently each day (sometimes without realising it), therefore a knowledge of phrasal verbs will help students to interact with and understand native speakers authentically.  Perhaps of more obvious benefit to students, use of appropriate phrasal verbs can help to increase your performance in official speaking tests (for IELTS, FCE, and CAE).

Studying phrasal verbs is clearly very useful, but what are the best ways to go about it?  There is good news, and bad news for students here.  Unfortunately, there is no magic trick which will instantly enable you to take in many new phrasal verbs; the best ways to learn and hold on to them are repetition and practise.  Once you come across a new phrasal verb, try to use it often to help retain it in your memory.

The good news, however, is that this type of study can be done outside of the class room, with no need to attend a class or get together with a teacher.  Phrasal verbs can be found in a variety of sources, including magazine articles, websites, even some newspapers – all of which are more interesting and less intimidating than a textbook.

“Mercedes turns out thousands of cars every month”.

The context of the sentence can help you to work out that in this example ‘turn out’ means ‘to produce/manufacture’.

Alternatively, there are many online resources which contain phrasal verb dictionaries, for instance http://www.englishpage.com/prepositions/phrasaldictionary.html .

After you find the phrasal verb and its meaning, the next step is to create an example sentence.  Don’t simply copy the example you have found, but make your own as this will stimulate your brain more and increase greatly the chance of you remembering the new vocabulary.

Higher level students should then also check whether the phrasal verb is transitive or intransitive: whether the object can divide the phrasal verb, or not.

Finally, concentrate on learning a few new phrasal verbs at a time.  Begin by finding the meanings of all the ones used in the post.