Transitive phrasal verbs – separable

by / Thursday, 16 July 2020

As you now know, some phrasal verbs can be separated. Some of the verbs that can be separated include:

  • To pick someone / something up – collect someone / something from another place
  • To fill something in – to complete something (usually a form)
  • To throw something out – to put something in the bin
  • To put something away – to keep something aside for you to use later
  • To drop someone / something off – to take someone / something to another place

But what are the rules about when you separate the verb? It basically depends on the length of the object and whether the object is a pronoun or not. If the object is long, we keep the object after the verb to help make the sentence clear. And if you are using an object pronoun, you must separate the verb. Here are some examples:

  • My sister had to fill in a really long and difficult form for her new job.
  • My sister had to fill a really long and difficult form in for her new job.

You can see that the second sentence could be less clear if you split the verb, even though both examples are grammatically correct.

  • Most days, parents have to pick their kids up from school.  (CORRECT)
  • Most days, parents have to pick them up from school.  (CORRECT)
  • Most days, parents have to pick up them from school.  (WRONG)

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