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Learn phrasal verbs with examples

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Phrasal verbs are a type of verb that is made up of a main verb and one or more smaller words like a preposition or adverb, known as particles.

Sit (verb) + down (preposition) = Sit down

Meaning: to move from a standing to a sitting position.

Please sit down on the big sofa.

The combination of the verb and particle(s) creates a new meaning for the verb. Phrasal verbs are very common in English and are used in both spoken and written English.

There are three main types of phrasal verb: intransitive, transitive separable, and transitive inseparable. (verb) + Down (preposition)


Intransitive phrasal verbs

Sit down

I’m just going to pop out (for a quick cigarette).

Meaning: to go out for a short time.

I get up early every day.

Meaning: to get out of bed after waking up.


Transitive separable phrasal verbs

I’m just going to pop out for a quick cigarette.

I’m going to pick my dry cleaning up on the way home.brought up an interesting point in the meeting.

Meaning: to collect.

Can you please turn the music down on your radio?

Meaning: to lower or reduce the amount of something (noise, heat, light).


Transitive inseparable phrasal verbs

I’m going to pick up my dry cleaning on the way home.

They looked after their sick grandfather for six months.

Meaning: to take care of.

We need to get rid of these old clothes.

Meaning: To dispose of something you no longer want to keep.

Transitive inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be separated by an object. This means that there is someone or something that the action of the verb is being done to and this object must come after the verb. For example:

Download our Phrasal Verbs eBook to see and learn more.


How to use phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are often used in informal English. It is important to note that the meaning of a phrasal verb is often very different from the meaning of the main verb on its own.

For example, the main verb ‘look’ has the meaning of ‘observe’ or ‘examine’. However, when used as a phrasal verb with the particle ‘after’, it takes on the meaning of ‘take care of’.

My dog is sick, I will look after her until she is better.

When using phrasal verbs, you need to be careful about which tense you use. This is because the meaning of the phrasal verb can change depending on the tense. For example, the present simple form of ‘look after’ means to take care of someone or something on a regular basis.

However, the past simple form would be used to describe a one-off event, such as:

 I looked after my niece for an hour while my sister went to the shops.

It is also important to remember that some phrasal verbs can only be used in certain tenses. For example, the phrasal verb ‘fill in’ can be used in the present simple and past simple, but not in the future tense.

Please fill in your name and address on the application form.

When using phrasal verbs, you need to be careful about which tense you use. This is because the meaning of the phrasal verb can change depending on the tense. For example, the present simple form of ‘look after’ means to take care of someone or something on a regular basis. However, the past simple form would be used to describe a one-off event, such as ‘I looked after my niece for an hour while my sister went to the shops’.

It is also important to remember that some phrasal verbs can only be used in certain tenses. For example, the phrasal verb ‘fill in’ can be used in the present simple and past simple, but not in the future tense.

If you are unsure whether to use a phrasal verb or not, it is always best to err on the side of caution and use a different verb. This is because using the wrong phrasal verb can change the meaning of what you want to say and this can cause confusion.

In conclusion, phrasal verbs can be tricky to learn, but they are very important and they can make your English sound more natural.

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