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Student Information

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TIPS

Phrasal Verbs

It’s hard to use the English language without uttering one of many phrasal verbs.  Read on to find out more about these phrases and examples of their use.

What are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal Verbs are made up of two or more words.  They usually consist of a verb + an adverb or a verb + a preposition.  They can have more than one meaning depending on the context in which they are used. 

  1. Bring up: to mention something for discussion. 

Ex.  Susan wanted to bring up the subject of a raise.

  1. Bring up: to raise children

Ex. Andrew brought up his children in Cornwall.

  1. Try out: to experiment with something

Ex. William tried out gymnastics, but found it too difficult.

  1. Hand in: to submit

Ex. Charlotte always handed in her homework on time.

  1. Do over: to perform a task again

Ex. Charlotte had to do over the homework that was incorrect.

  1. Read over: to study or review

Ex. Tom read over the article carefully before commenting on it.

  1. Cut down on: to reduce the amount of something

Ex. George wanted to cut down on caffeine so that he could sleep better.

It’s important to learn the meanings of phrasal verbs, as well as how to use them appropriately. 

Types of Phrasal Verbs

There are four types of phrasal verbs.  They are Separable Phrasal Verbs, Inseparable Phrasal Verbs (Transitive,) Three-word Phrasal Verbs (Transitive,) and Intransitive Phrasal Verbs.

Separable Phrasal Verbs: Can take a direct object, and can be used apart from each other. I have to give back her jumper vs. I have to give her jumper back.

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs (Transitive): Can take a direct object but can’t be separated from one another. ran into Stephen at the pub.

Three-word Phrasal Verbs (Transitive): Have a direct object and contain three words.  I’ll take care of the bill.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs: Do not have a direct object, and cannot be separated.  She’ll wake up soon.

It’s best to study phrasal verbs as you notice them in context, rather than to study them in lists.  In time, they will become a familiar part of your language use.