Phrasal Verbs in English Grammar

Phrasal Verbs in English Grammar

Phrasal verbs are used very commonly in English, even more so in informal situations. Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and a preposition or a particle.

Phrasal Verbs in English Grammar

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are verbs with two or more parts. These verbs have one verb and two or more particles. A particle is usually an adverb (it can also be a preposition), added to a verb to form a phrasal verb.

Particles Are Not Independent

Main verbs in phrasal verbs can have new meanings in addition to their own meanings.

After three months , he showed up at the dormitory .

In this example, the words 'show' and 'up' don't have separate meanings and together they create a phrasal verb meaning 'to arrive where you have arranged to meet somebody or do something'.

Phrasal Verbs Can Have Many Meanings

When we said that phrasal verbs have one meaning, that doesn't mean they have one single meaning. Many phrasal verbs have two or three or more meanings. For example 'show up' (together, verb + particle) can have three meanings according to Oxford Learner's dictionary.

After three months , he showed up at the dormitory .

Here, 'show up' means 'to arrive where you have arranged to meet somebody or do something'.

The moonlight showed up a beautiful lake in the forest .

Here, 'show up' means 'to make something start to be able to be seen'.

Kelly showed her mother up by crying out loud in the middle of the supermarket .

Here, 'show up' means 'to make somebody feel embarrassed by behaving badly.'

Phrasal Verbs Are Mostly Informal

Phrasal verbs are often used in informal situations. That's why many of them have a one-word verb equivalence. For example, 'show up' means 'arrive'. Or 'run out' means 'finish'.
Although they have a one-word equivalent, that doesn't mean they can be used in the same situations. We cannot replace a phrasal verb with its one-word equivalent all the time.

Types of Phrasal Verbs

There are four types of phrasal verbs:

  1. Type I: Transitive Separable Phrasal Verbs
  2. Type II: Transitive Inseparable Phrasal Verbs
  3. Type III: Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
  4. Type IV: Phrasal Verbs with More Than One Particles

Type I: Transitive Separable Phrasal Verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs must have an object. Otherwise their meaning cannot be complete.
With transitive separable phrasal verbs, you can put the object between the verb and the particle, or put it afterwards. It's meaning will be the same.

I took off my shoes .

The same as 'I took my shoes off'.

I took my shoes off .

The same as 'I took off my shoes'.

But if our object, is an object pronoun like 'it', 'me' or 'them', you cannot put the object after the particle. It must be put between the verb and the particle.

I took them off . (NOT I took off them . )

Remember besides its grammatical rule the meaning is still the same.

Type II: Transitive Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Inseparable phrasal verbs are transitive, but you can’t insert that direct object into the middle of the phrasal verb. In other words, they can’t be separated.

He picked on her because of her size .

Never say; he picked her on because of her size.

Type III: Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Intransitive phrasal verbs do not need an object to have a wholesome meaning.

He gets up at 7 every morning .

'Get up' is an intransitive phrasal verb which does not take an object.

Type IV: Phrasal Verbs with More Than One Particles

Type IV phrasal verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. They are the kind of of phrasal verbs that have more than one particle, such as 'come up with'. With these phrasal verbs, you cannot generally separate the particles. So we say 'come up with something' and not, 'come up something with'.

She's never really got on with her sister .

Do not separate the particles.

Meaning of the Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs can have two types of meaning:

  • Literal Meaning
  • Idiomatic Meaning

He looked up at the sky and saw two birds flying .

Here, the phrasal verb 'look up' have a literal meaning and the particle 'up' means 'upward'.

He looked up the word 'sacrilegious' in the dictionary .

Here, the phrasal verb 'look up' have an idiomatic meaning and 'up' does not have an independent meaning.

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