Phrasal verbs – what you need to know about them

by / Monday, 29 June 2020

One major difference between native speakers and learners of English is the use of phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are used commonly in everyday speech and are formed by combining a verb and a preposition or adverb. But why are they so difficult?

  • They are often not easy to work out. The words which make up the phrasal verb don’t necessarily have a meaning close to the meaning of the phrasal verb. The individual words in the phrasal verb don’t really help you to understand the meaning of the phrasal verb as a whole.
  • Some phrasal verbs have more than one meaning or phrasal verbs which look similar can mean something completely different to it’s easy to make mistakes when using them.
  • The grammar is complicated. There are 3 types of phrasal verbs.
    • Intransitive verbs. These verbs don’t have an object e.g. to wake up. The verb can stand alone in a sentence. e.g. I wake up at 6am every day so at weekends I stay in bed late.
    • Transitive verbs (Inseparable). These verbs need an object to ‘act on’ and the object must go after the preposition.  e.g. to look after someone or something.  My friend is on holiday, so I’m looking after her cat.
    • Transitive verbs (Separable). This is where is becomes more complicated. These verbs have an object and it can be placed between the verb and the preposition e.g. to pick someone / something up. ‘When you are out, can you pick up some pasta?’ And ‘When you are out, can you pick some pasta up?’ are both equally correct.

Keep checking our blog as we cover the different types of phrasal verbs and ways to learn them.

If you would like to learn more about phrasal verbs, why not join our part-time course starting every Monday?

Or read a book on Phrasal verbs. We can recommend this one:English Phrasal Verbs in Use Intermediate Book with Answers (Vocabulary in Use)

To read the other posts in the Phrasal Verbs blog series, click on the links below: