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Phrasal verbs in English: simple rules of use with examples


Source: Easy Speak

Phrasal verbs are one of the foundations of the English language. Without them - well, nothing! How to understand their types and functions - tells Easy Speak.

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Phrasal verbs are expressions that usually consist of 2-3 words. They make speech bright and varied, therefore they are constantly used in colloquial English. You've probably met them if you watched TV shows in English, listened to songs or read books. However, despite their popularity in use, they present a lot of difficulties. After all, one small word completely changes the meaning of the expression. In addition, there are certain grammatical features when using them. We will talk about them in this article.

What are phrasal verbs in English?

Phrasal verbs are a combination of words. Such expressions are reminiscent of small phrases, hence the name "phrasal verbs".

Here is an example of such verbs:

  • go on - keep doing something
  • go out - go out, spend time outside the home

As you can see, the meaning of phrasal verbs changes depending on the prepositions used. And guessing the meaning of such verbs is very difficult, and sometimes impossible.

That is why they cause so many difficulties in learning.

To make it easier for you to "recognize" phrasal verbs, let's see what they are.

3 kinds of phrasal verbs in English

All phrasal verbs can be grammatically divided into 3 types:

1. Action (verb) + preposition

In such combinations, prepositions are very often used:

  • on - on the
  • in - at
  • out - from
  • off - from
  • by - to
  • for - for

For example:

Check in - register (at the hotel)

call off - cancel

Look for - search

try on - try on (clothes)

2. Action (verb) + sign (adverb)

An adverb is a word that denotes a sign and answers the question "how". In such combinations, adverbs are most often used:

  • across - through, through
  • down - down
  • up - up
  • around - around
  • Against - vs
  • back - back
  • ahead - forward
  • forward - forward

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For example:

walk around - walk, wander everywhere

write down - write down, state in writing

come across - bump into, accidentally meet

look ahead - look into the future, provide

3. Action + sign + preposition

In this case, the phrasal verb consists of 3 words. For instance:

  • Look forward to - wait with impatience (pleasure)
  • Cut down on - to reduce something
  • Get along with - get along, get along with someone
  • Keep away from - stay away from

As you may have noticed, sometimes you can trace the logic of the formation of a phrasal verb. For instance:

cool - look

for - for

By combining these words we get look for - “search” (look for).

However, this can not always be done. Therefore, it is better to clarify the translation and meaning of the phrasal verb. In addition, the same prepositions / adverbs give different meanings to different verbs. For instance:

get up - get up, wake up

Give up - give up, refuse; leave, quit

Make-up - make up; to compose

In addition to types, phrasal verbs can be divided into transitive and intransitive. Let's take a look at what this means.

Transitive and intransitive phrasal verbs in English

Also, all phrasal verbs can be divided into transitive and intransitive.

Intransitive phrasal verbs

Intransitive phrasal verbs are expressions that are complete in themselves. Such phrasal verbs do not require completion. For instance:

This old car breaks down all the time. This old car breaks down all the time.

They usually get up early. They usually get up early.

He tried to calm down. He tried to calm down.

Transitive phrasal verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs are an expression that requires completion, clarification (what exactly, who exactly, with whom exactly). For instance:

He gets along with his sister. He gets along (with whom exactly?) With his sister.

As you can see, we cannot use this verb without this clarification. Then the sentence will be unfinished. Transitive verbs can be separable and non-separable.

Unshared - when the refinement comes after the whole expression. For instance:

He looked for the key. He was looking for keys.

You should give up smoking... You should quit smoking.

Shared - when a refinement breaks a phrasal verb and becomes in the middle For example:

He took his coat off. He took off his coat.

He threw the garbage away. He threw out the trash.

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Shared and not shared at the same time

Sometimes a phrasal verb can be either separable or non-separable. Both options will be correct. For instance:

I put my sweater on. I put on a sweater.

I put on my sweater. I put on a sweater.

You can always specify whether a phrasal verb is separable or not in the dictionary. Now, I want to give you a list of commonly used phrasal verbs.

List of phrasal verbs in English

  • ask for - ask, ask, demand
  • be out - to be absent (not to be at home, in place)
  • break down - break down, stop working
  • clean up - clean, tidy up, tidy up
  • check in - register (at the hotel)
  • check out - check, check out (from the hotel)
  • call back - call back
  • calm down - calm down
  • come back - return
  • as in - enter
  • come on - Come on !, Come on !, Give it up!
  • cut off - cut off, interrupt, stop, finish
  • figure out - find out, understand, understand
  • fill in - fill in (form, questionnaire)
  • find out - find out, find out
  • get along - get along, be on good terms
  • get together - meet
  • get up - to get up from bed
  • give up - refuse, quit, surrender
  • go back - return
  • go on - continue to happen
  • go away - leave, leave
  • grow up - grow up, become an adult
  • hang up - hang up the phone, disconnect
  • hold on - wait on the phone line, do not disconnect
  • keep on - continue
  • look after - look after, look after, take care
  • look for - search
  • look ahead - anticipate, expect with pleasure, wait impatiently
  • look up - search (in a book, dictionary)
  • makeover - compose, invent,
  • payback - return money (pay off), revenge (repay)
  • pay offs - pay off in full, pay off the debt
  • pick up - pick up, call in (enter)
  • put away - clean up, hide, get rid of
  • put on - put on clothes
  • put up with - endure, put up
  • Sign up - sign up, apply (to work)
  • sit down - sit down
  • stand up - get up
  • switch on - enable
  • switch off - switch off
  • take away / off - clean up, carry away, take away, select, remove, take off
  • talk over - discuss
  • think over - think out
  • try on - try on (clothes)
  • try out - try, try, check
  • turn down - reduce (sound, light)
  • turn off - turn off (radio), turn off (light), turn off (motor)
  • turn on - turn on (radio), activate
  • turn up - appear, come, come, amplify (sound)
  • use up - fully utilize, use up, deplete, exhaust
  • wake up - wake up, wake up, stay awake
  • work off - work out, get rid of, get free
  • write down - write down (on paper)

So, we have sorted out what phrasal verbs are and what they are. Now the most difficult thing is to remember phrasal verbs and use them in your speech.

Assignment task

Translate the following sentences into English:

  1. I'm looking for my phone.
  2. You need to calm down.
  3. Try on this dress.
  4. They are looking forward to this trip.
  5. He gave up smoking.

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