Phrasal Verbs

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Phrasal Verbs :

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and an adverb or preposition.


1. turn off the tap
2. turn off a TV


1. look after someone
2. look after something

Sometimes a phrasal verb consists of three words : a verb, an adverb and a preposition.

1. look forward to something
2. put up with something
3. put up with somebody

In some cases, the meaning of a phrasal verb is clear from the meanings of its senperate words.

1. sit down
2. comeback
3. turn round

In other cases, a phrasal verb has an idiomatic meaning. Its meaning is very difficult from the meanings of the words therein. For example, the phrasal verb, GIVE UP can not be understood from the meanings of the words GIVE and UP.

TO GIVE UP means to stop doing it or to stop having it.

It is very easy to give up smoking. I’ve done it dozens of times. (Mark Twain)

Adverbs and prepositions which thus combine with verbs are called particles. In some grammars, only adverbs are called particles.

Phrasal verbs play a key part of everyday English. They are largely used in conversations and informal writings. They are used instead of more formal sounding words with the same meaning. For example, it would sound strange to a native speaker if you said (They extinguished the flames.), and not said (They put out the fire.)

There are four basic types of phrasal verbs.

TYPE – 1 : Intransitive Phrasal Verb

These phrasal verbs are intransitive. They do not take an object.


The car broke down
How did this come about?

TYPE – 2 : Transitive Phrasal Verb

These phrasal verbs are transitive. They take an object. If the object is a noun, it can go after or before the adverb.



Put on your shoes.
Put your shoes on.

If the object is a pronoun, it must come before the adverb.

Put them on.
Not…Put on them.

Further examples :

She turned off the tap.
She turned the tap off.

She turned it off.
Not….She turned off it.

TYPE – 3 : Inseparable Phrasal Verb

These phrasal verbs take an object. The object goes after the preposition. The verb cannot be separated from the preposition.


We are looking forward to his arrival.
I won’t put up with his rudeness any longer.

It is sometimes difficult to find out whether a particle is an adverb or a preposition. Here is some guidance.

These common particles are only prepositions.

1. after
2. at
3. for
4. from
5. into
6. to
7. with
8. without

These common particles are only adverbs.

1. away
2. back
3. forward
4. out

Most other particles may function either as prepositions or as adverbs. They include the following.

1. about
2. across
3. along
4. around
5. by
6. down
7. in
8. off
9. on
10. over
11. round
12. through
13. under
14. up

TYPE – 4 : Separable Phrasal Verb

We can insert other words into the middle of a separable phrasal verb.

Consider the following.

For example : the phrasal verb take back.

He needs to take back the shirt he lent you.
Where’s that shirt he lent you? He needs to take it back.

Both the sentences above are correct ones.

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