Phrasal Verbs for intermediate learners

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

What Are Phrasal Verbs?

Phrasal verbs consist of two or more parts. These verbs have one verb and one or two particles added to the main verb to form the phrasal verb. Particles are mainly adverbs or prepositions. Below is a list of common phrasal verbs in English:

  • Get up
  • Take off
  • Throw up
  • Give up
  • Break down
  • Get on with
  • Call off
  • Do over

Now let us see how they are used in statements:

I showed up at her door yesterday.

The train broke down in the middle of nowhere.


Be careful that particles do not come independently. They are a part of the phrasal verbs.

Types of Phrasal Verbs

These phrasal verbs can be categorized based on two important features listed below:

  • Separability
  • Transitivity


Some phrasal verbs can become separate from each other and an object comes between them. Take a look at the following examples:

She's taking her shoes off.

Here, the object has come between the parts of the phrasal verb.

I want to call the meeting off right now.

However, not all phrasal verbs are separable. Some of them cannot be separated in the statement. Pay attention to the following examples:

As I was looking for her in the library, I came by an interesting book on the shelf.

Here, if you put the object in the middle of the phrasal verb, the sentence would make no sense.

You should seriously look into it.


These phrasal verbs are normally used together to convey a specific meaning. If they are used independently, their meanings can change significantly.


Another element based upon which phrasal verbs are categorized is whether they are transitive or Intransitive. When phrasal verbs take an object to be completed or do not need an object and are complete already, these verbs are put in different groups. Let us examine each group closely:

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

As the name suggests, these phrasal verbs must have an object. Otherwise, their meaning will be incomplete. Take a look at the examples below:

She took off her dress.

They used up all the gas in the car.

As you can see, if we remove the object, we cannot understand what the sentence is talking about.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

As their name suggests, these phrasal verbs are intransitive and do not need an object to complete their meaning. Let us look at some examples below:

Don't look! She is throwing up.

We can talk whenever your anger dies down.


It is useful to know that phrasal verbs are mostly used in informal speech.


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