Phrasal Verbs: Understanding and Using Them Correctly

Phrasal verbs are a crucial part of the English language, especially in informal contexts. They are made up of a verb and one or two particles that can change the meaning of the verb. For example, “pick up” means to grab or lift, which is very different from the meanings of “pick” and “up” alone.

In this article, we will explore phrasal verbs in-depth, providing definitions, examples, and tips for using them correctly. We will also discuss the differences between separable and inseparable phrasal verbs, and how to identify them. By the end of this article, readers should have a solid understanding of phrasal verbs and feel confident in using them in their daily conversations and writing.

Phrasal Verbs Unlocking the Secrets of English LanguagePin

What Are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs are a type of compound verb that consists of a verb and one or more particles. The particles can be prepositions or adverbs, or a combination of both. When combined with a verb, the meaning of the phrasal verb is often different from the meaning of the individual words.

Phrasal verbs are commonly used in spoken and informal English. They are also used in written English, particularly in novels and other creative writing. However, their use in academic writing is generally discouraged.

Phrasal verbs are an essential part of the English language. They are used to express a wide range of meanings, from simple actions to complex ideas. For example, the phrasal verb “take off” can mean to remove something, to leave a place quickly, or to become successful.

Phrasal verbs are often idiomatic, which means that their meaning cannot be easily predicted from the meaning of the individual words. For example, the phrasal verb “look up” can mean to search for information, but it can also mean to respect or admire someone.

Types of Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are a combination of a verb and one or more particles, which can be prepositions or adverbs. They are commonly used in English and can be classified into different types based on their usage and structure. Here are the three main types of phrasal verbs:

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs are those that require a direct object to complete their meaning. The direct object can come before or after the particle, depending on the context. For example, “pick up the phone” and “pick the phone up” mean the same thing. Here are some common transitive phrasal verbs:

  • break down
  • call off
  • fill in
  • look into
  • put up with

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Intransitive phrasal verbs do not require a direct object and can stand alone as a complete sentence. They are often used to describe a change in direction or movement. Here are some common intransitive phrasal verbs:

  • end up
  • come across
  • get over
  • wait for
  • take off

Separable and Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs can also be classified based on whether they can be separated by other words or not. Separable phrasal verbs can be separated by an object or adverb, while inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be separated. Here are some examples of separable and inseparable phrasal verbs:

  • Separable: “I will look the report over” or “I will look over the report.”
  • Inseparable: “I will look into the matter.”

It’s important to note that the meaning of a phrasal verb can change depending on whether it is separable or inseparable.

List of Common Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are an essential part of the English language, and they are commonly used in both spoken and written English. Here is a list of some of the most common phrasal verbs:

Phrasal Verbs with Get

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Get away To escape or leave a place
Get along To have a good relationship with someone
Get over To recover from an illness or a difficult situation
Get up To wake up and get out of bed
Get in To enter a vehicle or a building
Get out To leave a place
Get off To leave a vehicle or a mode of transport
Get on To board a vehicle or a mode of transport
Get by To manage to survive or cope with a difficult situation
Get through To complete a task or a difficult situation
Get ahead To make progress in one’s career or life
Get down To feel sad or depressed
Get together To meet with friends or family
Get out of To avoid doing something
Get back To return to a place
Get around To move from place to place
Get in touch To contact someone
Get away with To do something wrong without being punished
Get rid of To dispose of something
Get on with To continue doing something
Get the hang of To understand how to do something
Get into To become interested in something
Get off on To enjoy something
Get lost To go away or leave someone alone
Get a hold of To obtain or acquire something

Phrasal Verbs with Look

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Look after To take care of someone or something
Look around To explore or examine a place
Look away To avert one’s gaze or attention
Look back To remember or reflect on the past
Look down on To have a negative attitude towards someone or something
Look for To search for something
Look forward to To anticipate or be excited about something in the future
Look into To investigate or examine something
Look out To be careful or watchful
Look over To review or examine something
Look up To search for information or a word in a dictionary
Look up to To admire or respect someone
Look through To browse or examine quickly
Look upon To consider or regard something in a particular way
Look beyond To consider something in a broader context
Look out for To watch out for someone or something
Look to To rely on or seek help from someone
Look in on To visit someone briefly
Look for trouble To intentionally seek out conflict or problems
Look sharp To hurry or be quick
Look someone in the eye To make direct eye contact with someone

Phrasal Verbs with Take

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Take after To resemble or have similar traits to a family member
Take apart To disassemble or break something down into parts
Take away To remove or subtract something
Take back To retract or withdraw something that was said or done
Take down To write or record information
Take in To understand or comprehend something
Take off To leave the ground (for a plane) or to remove clothing
Take on To accept responsibility or a challenge
Take out To remove something or to go on a date with someone
Take over To assume control or responsibility
Take up To begin a new activity or hobby
Take care of To look after or attend to someone or something
Take advantage of To use or exploit a situation for one’s benefit
Take a break To rest or take a pause from an activity
Take a chance To take a risk or gamble
Take a hike To go away or leave
Take a look To examine or inspect something
Take a stand To make a firm decision or position on an issue
Take a step back To pause and reassess a situation
Take a turn To change direction or course
Take it easy To relax or slow down
Take someone for granted To not appreciate or value someone
Take the plunge To take a big risk or make a major decision

Phrasal Verbs with Put

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Put away To tidy up or store something
Put down To criticize or belittle someone
Put off To postpone or delay something
Put on To wear clothing or makeup
Put out To extinguish a fire or to inconvenience someone
Put up To accommodate or host someone
Put together To assemble or create something
Put aside To save or reserve something
Put forward To propose or suggest something
Put in To install or contribute something
Put through To connect or transfer a phone call
Put up with To tolerate or endure something
Put money on To bet on something

Phrasal Verbs with Up

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Add up To make sense or be logical
Back up To support or confirm something
Bring up To raise or mention a topic
Cheer up To make someone feel happier or more positive
Clean up To tidy or clean a space
Dress up To wear formal or fancy clothing
End up To eventually reach or become something
Fix up To repair or improve something
Give up To quit or surrender
Grow up To mature or become an adult
Hang up To end a phone call or to hang clothing on a hook
Hold up To delay or hinder something
Keep up To maintain or continue something
Look up To search for information or to improve
Make up To reconcile or create something
Pick up To lift or collect something
Put up To accommodate or host someone
Show up To arrive or appear
Speak up To speak louder or more confidently
Stand up To rise from a seated position or to defend oneself
Take up To begin a new activity or hobby
Team up To collaborate or work together
Turn up To increase in volume or to appear unexpectedly
Wake up To become alert or to awaken from sleep

Phrasal Verbs with Break

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Break away To escape or separate from a group
Break down To stop functioning or to have an emotional collapse
Break in To wear something in or to interrupt someone
Break into To enter a building or a conversation
Break off To end a relationship or a piece of something
Break out To escape or to start suddenly
Break through To make a breakthrough or to penetrate a barrier
Break up To end a relationship or to disperse a group
Break the ice To initiate conversation or to make a situation less tense
Break the news To inform someone of something important or difficult
Break the rules To violate or disobey established rules
Break the bank To spend or lose a large amount of money
Break a habit To stop doing something that has become routine
Break a leg A superstitious phrase used to wish someone good luck
Break bread To share a meal with someone
Break even To have expenses equal to income
Break ground To begin construction or to make progress
Break the cycle To put an end to a negative pattern
Break the mold To do something different or unconventional
Break the silence To speak up or to end a period of silence
Break the news gently To deliver bad news in a sensitive way
Break ranks To deviate from a group or organization
Break free To escape or to become independent
Break wind To pass gas or to fart (informal)

Phrasal Verbs with Turn

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Turn around To reverse direction or to change one’s attitude
Turn away To refuse or reject something or someone
Turn back To return or to change one’s mind
Turn down To refuse or reject an offer or request
Turn in To submit or hand in something
Turn off To switch off or to disgust someone
Turn on To switch on or to excite someone
Turn out To attend or to produce a result
Turn over To flip or to transfer ownership
Turn to To seek help or advice from someone
Turn up To arrive or to increase in volume
Turn against To become hostile or opposed to someone or something
Turn into To transform or to change into something else
Turn over a new leaf To start fresh or to change one’s behavior
Turn a blind eye To ignore or overlook something
Turn the tables To reverse a situation or outcome
Turn the corner To make progress or to recover from a difficult situation
Turn the page To move on from a past event or situation
Turn up the heat To increase pressure or intensity
Turn heads To attract attention or admiration
Turn a profit To earn money or make a financial gain
Turn the other cheek To forgive or tolerate an offense
Turn to stone To become petrified with fear or shock

Phrasal Verbs with Do

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Do away with To get rid of or eliminate something
Do up To fasten or to renovate something
Do without To manage or survive without something
Do over To redo or to repeat something
Do in To exhaust or to kill someone
Do for To ruin or to defeat someone
Do out of To deprive someone of something
Do up in To dress in fancy or formal clothing
Do the dishes To wash the dishes
Do the laundry To wash and dry clothing
Do time To serve a prison sentence
Do a favor To help someone out
Do a job on To criticize or damage something
Do a number on To deceive or manipulate someone
Do a double take To take a second look or to be surprised
Do business To conduct transactions or to work together
Do drugs To use illegal drugs
Do harm To cause harm or damage
Do justice To treat fairly or to represent accurately
Do research To investigate or study a topic
Do the trick To solve a problem or satisfy a need
Do well To perform successfully or to prosper
Do your best To try your hardest
Do your homework To prepare or research something thoroughly

Phrasal Verbs with Make

Phrasal Verb Meaning
Make up To invent or create something, to reconcile after a disagreement
Make out To see or hear something with difficulty, to understand, to kiss passionately
Make up for To compensate for something, to make amends
Make up one’s mind To decide
Make for To head towards a destination
Make off To leave quickly or secretly
Make do To manage with what one has
Make over To renovate or transform something, to transfer ownership
Make out with To engage in sexual activity with someone
Make a point To emphasize or stress something
Make a difference To have an impact or effect
Make a living To earn money
Make a fool of To embarrass or humiliate someone
Make a break for it To try to escape
Make a mess To create a disorderly or untidy state
Make a scene To cause a public disturbance
Make good To succeed or fulfill a promise
Make light of To treat something as unimportant or insignificant
Make sense To be logical or understandable
Make the most of To take advantage of an opportunity
Make up to To try to gain someone’s favor or affection
Make waves To cause trouble or controversy
Make way for To clear a path for someone or something

These are just a few examples of the many phrasal verbs in the English language. Each phrasal verb consists of a verb and one or more particles that modify the meaning of the verb.

Using Phrasal Verbs in Context

When it comes to using phrasal verbs, context is key. As mentioned in the search results, phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning, and the meaning can change depending on the context. Here are a few tips on how to use phrasal verbs in context:

  • Consider the situation: Think about the situation in which the phrasal verb is being used. Is it a formal or informal situation? Is it a conversation between friends or a business meeting? This can help you determine which phrasal verb to use and how to use it.
  • Look at the surrounding words: Pay attention to the words that come before and after the phrasal verb. This can help you understand the meaning of the phrasal verb in that specific context.
  • Use the correct particle: The particle in a phrasal verb can often change the meaning of the verb. Make sure to use the correct particle in the correct context. For example, “put up with” means to tolerate, while “put up” means to hang something on a wall.
  • Practice: The best way to get better at using phrasal verbs in context is to practice. Read and listen to English in different contexts, and try to use phrasal verbs in your own conversations and writing.

Phrasal Verbs with Prepositions and Adverbs

Phrasal verbs are a common feature of the English language. They are formed by combining a verb with a preposition or adverb to create a new meaning. Prepositions are words like in, on, at, up, down, etc., while adverbs are words that describe verbs. When used in phrasal verbs, prepositions and adverbs can change the meaning of the verb completely.

Phrasal verbs with prepositions and adverbs are often used in everyday English. They can be separable or inseparable, depending on whether the object can be placed between the verb and the particle. Here are some examples:

  • Separable phrasal verb: He turned off the lights. / He turned the lights off.
  • Inseparable phrasal verb: She put on her coat. / She couldn’t put her coat on.

Prepositional verbs are another type of verb that includes a preposition and an object. Unlike phrasal verbs, the object always comes after the preposition. Here are some examples:

  • Prepositional verb: She listened to the radio. / He looked at the picture.

It is important to note that prepositions and adverbs can have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used. For example, the preposition “up” can mean “to increase” in the sentence “The company’s profits are up,” but can mean “to complete” in the sentence “I need to finish up my work.”

Phrasal Verbs Exercises

Exercise 1: Choose the correct phrasal verb to complete the sentence.

  1. I need to _________ up early tomorrow for my flight. a) wake b) wake off c) wake up
  2. Can you _________ the music? It’s too loud. a) turn on b) turn up c) turn off
  3. I’m going to _________ my old clothes to charity. a) give out b) give up c) give away
  4. She _________ her keys and couldn’t find them. a) lost out b) lost off c) lost
  5. He always _________ his work until the last minute. a) puts off b) puts up c) puts on

Answers: 1) c, 2) c, 3) c, 4) c, 5) a

Exercise 2: Rewrite the sentences using the phrasal verbs in brackets.

  1. I’m going to stop smoking. (give up)
  2. She’s going to start a new job next week. (take on)
  3. Can you please explain the concept again? (go over)
  4. The teacher postponed the test until next week. (put off)
  5. We need to clean the kitchen before the guests arrive. (tidy up)

Answers: 1) I’m going to give up smoking. 2) She’s going to take on a new job next week. 3) Can you please go over the concept again? 4) The teacher put off the test until next week. 5) We need to tidy up the kitchen before the guests arrive.

FAQs on Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs can be tricky to understand, so here are some frequently asked questions to help clarify their meaning and usage.

What are phrasal verbs?

Phrasal verbs are combinations of a verb and one or more particles, such as prepositions or adverbs. Together, they create a new meaning that is different from the individual words used. For example, “take off” means to remove clothing or to leave quickly by airplane.

Are phrasal verbs only used in informal English?

No, phrasal verbs can be used in both formal and informal English. However, they are more common in spoken and informal English than in written and formal English.

How can I tell if a phrasal verb is separable or inseparable?

A separable phrasal verb can have the particle separated from the verb and placed in a different position in the sentence. For example, “I took off my shoes” and “I took my shoes off” are both correct. In contrast, an inseparable phrasal verb cannot be separated, such as “I’m looking forward to the party.”

Are there any rules for using phrasal verbs?

There are no strict rules for using phrasal verbs, but there are some general guidelines to follow. For example, it is important to use the correct particle to convey the intended meaning. Additionally, some phrasal verbs are more common in certain contexts or regions, so it can be helpful to study them in context.

How can I learn and practice phrasal verbs?

One way to learn phrasal verbs is to study them in context, such as in news articles or TV shows. Another way is to use flashcards or quizzes to practice identifying and using phrasal verbs. Additionally, it can be helpful to use phrasal verbs in your own writing and speaking to become more comfortable with them.

Related resources:

Direct and Indirect Speech 5 Important Rules of Grammar
Suffixes Regular & Irregular Plural Nouns
First, Second, and Third Conditional Proverbs
Independent and Dependent Clauses WH Questions Words
Quantifiers Determiner
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