In this lesson, you will find a detailed overview of the grammatical rules to help you correctly use phrasal verbs. It is designed for advanced level English students, complete with practical exercises to improve your skills.
What are phrasal verbs?
A phrasal verb combines words from different categories (e.g. a verb, a preposition, and a particle) to create a single phrase or unit of syntax. The meaning of a phrasal verb may not be obvious from the meaning of the individual words used, but create a specific, colloquial meaning when combined in a specific way.
Tim always looked down on James.
This phrase does not mean that Tim is stood higher up than James and is physically looking down on him, but that he believes he is a better person than James.
Types of phrasal verbs: Prepositional, particle and particle-prepositional
A prepositional verb combines a verb and preposition and forms the beginning of a prepositional phrase which indicates the relationship between various elements of the sentence.
Anita jumped on the bus.
He takes after his father.
You should stand up for what you believe in.
Particle verbs involve the combination of a verb and a particle, such as out or on, in order to create meaning.
Why do all the kids hang out by the shops?
Kate handed the lost phone into the police.
He won the boxing match with a knock out punch.
The final category of phrasal verbs is particle-prepositional verbs. As the name suggests, these are phrasal verbs that combine a verb, a particle, and a preposition.
I don’t know how Mr Edwards puts up with that.
Mary loaded up on sweets every time she went shopping.
After the marathon, Amir was looking forward to a rest.
Determining phrasal verb types: Transitive and intransitive
There are two types of phrasal verbs; transitive and intransitive.
Transitive phrasal verbs
Transitive verbs contain an object, either a noun, pronoun or phrase that refers to the subject affected by the action of the verb. In these cases, if the object is a noun the elements of the phrasal verb doesn’t always have to follow each other.
They pulled the statue down.
They pulled down the statue.
In this case, the phrasal verb can be written in two different ways to convey the same meaning.
When the object is a pronoun, the object should always be positioned between the verb and the adverb.
He brought that up twice during his speech.
Intransitive phrasal verbs
Unlike transitive phrasal verbs, intransitive ones do not have an object. They also have a fixed method of construction; the verb and adverb are never separated.
They broke up suddenly.
It is better to set off early to avoid traffic.