Phrasal Verbs

What are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs are verbs that have two or more parts. For example, “look after” and “look forward to” are phrasal verbs but “look” is not a phrasal verb.

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs that use the verb “look”.

Look after

Look forward to

Look into

Look down on

Look over

All of these verbs mean different things and it isn’t always clear from the main verb.

Grammar Rules for Phrasal Verbs.

Phrasal verbs don’t all work in the same way.

There are 3 types of phrasal verbs.

Phrasal verbs without objects examples.

Get up, break down, end up, come on, go away, go out, stand up, sit down

Separable Phrasal Verbs examples

Turn on, turn off, try on, call back, pay back, switch off, pick up

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs examples.

Carry on, look for, get on, look forward to

Sometimes we can separate phrasal verbs, for example:

“I turned on the computer.”

“I turned the computer on.”

We can put the object (the computer) after the verb (“I turned on the computer.”) or we can place the object in the middle of the verb, between the verb stem and particle (“I turned the computer on.”). This makes no difference to the meaning or register.

However, if we have a separable phrasal verb and we use a pronoun instead of a noun (for example “it” instead of “the computer”; Then we have to put the object in the middle (“I turned it on.”), we cannot put the pronoun after the particle.

“I turned it on.”

“I turned on it.”

How Many Phrasal Verbs are There?

There are more than 10,000 phrasal verbs in English and many have multiple meanings!

How to learn Phrasal Verbs.

Exposure. Reading, listening to and speaking with people in English will help you to learn in context. Learning these verbs in a natural context is much more useful than trying to memorize lists!

Reference. Check phrasal verbs that you aren’t sure about in a good reference like Wordreference will give you translations, definitions and examples of each phrasal verb. You can also find links to discussions about these verbs in detail in the Wordreference forums.

Practice. If you use the our Phrasal Verbs Trainer every day you will be able to learn these verbs quickly and easily.