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What is a 
PHRASAL VERB? 
A basic introduction to English phrasal verbs 
http://botanicallinguist.com
Phrasal verbs are sometimes called 
multi-word verbs 
they’re used just like other verbs
A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb 
(such as ‘make’ or ‘pick’) 
with one or two particles 
(an adverb or a preposition), 
that results in a new 
word or unit of meaning.
A simple verb plus a preposition is not a phrasal verb 
For example: 
look up 
look up – to turn your eyes upwards, is not a phrasal verb 
 I looked up and saw a plane. 
look up (something) – to look at a book or computer 
in order to find information, is a phrasal verb 
I looked it up in my dictionary. 
I looked it up on the internet.
cool off 
pull out 
talk over 
soup up man up 
eat up 
play up 
believe in 
buy out 
call off 
PHRASAL VERBS 
fall for 
freshen up 
show off step up 
hit it off 
laugh off 
sell up 
look after 
make up 
own up 
pack out 
run out 
write off
Phrasal verbs are an important part of English. 
They’re particularly common in everyday spoken English, 
and informal written English. 
But they’re also used in many quite formal and formal texts, 
e.g. business letters, academic writing, scientific papers, 
technical papers, legal documents, news reports, 
and official government documents.
Phrasal verbs can seem difficult to learn 
because it can be difficult or impossible to guess the meanings of 
phrasal verbs from the meanings of their individual verbs and 
particles. 
For example: 
• sell up something (or sell something up) – to sell your business or property 
and move onto something or somewhere else. 
• own up to something - to admit or confess that you have done something wrong 
They can also seem difficult to learn because some phrasal 
verbs have multiple meanings. 
For example…
pick up 
If you pick up a cold or other infectious illness, you get it from 
someone or something. 
He picked up malaria on holiday. 
If something picks up, it improves after a slow start or a bad period. 
Business has really picked up this year. 
If you pick up a new skill you learn it easily or casually. 
Children pick up a second language very easily. 
To pick up speed is to go faster. 
The cyclists picked up speed after 10 miles. 
When the wind picks up it gets stronger. 
The wind is picking up.
Intransitive phrasal verbs 
are always inseparable: they do not take a direct object 
between the two parts of the phrasal verb. 
Examples: 
 back down 
 get by 
 hang up 
 grow up 
 keel over 
 pass out 
 stay over 
grow up
Transitive phrasal verbs have a direct object 
Most transitive phrasal verbs can take the direct object between the two 
parts of the phrasal verb, or after the phrasal verb (separable phrasal verbs). 
For example: 
look up something or look (something) up 
 I looked up ‘freelance’ in my English dictionary. 
 I looked ‘freelance’ up in my English dictionary. 
However, if the direct object is a pronoun, it must go between the two 
parts of the phrasal verb. 
For example: 
 I looked it up in my English dictionary.
Some transitive phrasal verbs must have the object between 
the verb and the particle. 
For example: 
 talk into – I talked my boss into giving me a pay rise. 
 pull to – Could you pull the door to, please? 
Some transitive phrasal verbs must have the object after the 
particle (the phrasal verb is inseparable). 
For example: 
 look after – I look after the children while my wife goes to work. 
 take after – My son takes after his grandfather. 
 believe in - I believe in ghosts.
More English lessons at 
http://botanicallinguist.com

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What are phrasal verbs?

  • 1. What is a PHRASAL VERB? A basic introduction to English phrasal verbs http://botanicallinguist.com
  • 2. Phrasal verbs are sometimes called multi-word verbs they’re used just like other verbs
  • 3. A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb (such as ‘make’ or ‘pick’) with one or two particles (an adverb or a preposition), that results in a new word or unit of meaning.
  • 4. A simple verb plus a preposition is not a phrasal verb For example: look up look up – to turn your eyes upwards, is not a phrasal verb  I looked up and saw a plane. look up (something) – to look at a book or computer in order to find information, is a phrasal verb I looked it up in my dictionary. I looked it up on the internet.
  • 5. cool off pull out talk over soup up man up eat up play up believe in buy out call off PHRASAL VERBS fall for freshen up show off step up hit it off laugh off sell up look after make up own up pack out run out write off
  • 6. Phrasal verbs are an important part of English. They’re particularly common in everyday spoken English, and informal written English. But they’re also used in many quite formal and formal texts, e.g. business letters, academic writing, scientific papers, technical papers, legal documents, news reports, and official government documents.
  • 7. Phrasal verbs can seem difficult to learn because it can be difficult or impossible to guess the meanings of phrasal verbs from the meanings of their individual verbs and particles. For example: • sell up something (or sell something up) – to sell your business or property and move onto something or somewhere else. • own up to something - to admit or confess that you have done something wrong They can also seem difficult to learn because some phrasal verbs have multiple meanings. For example…
  • 8. pick up If you pick up a cold or other infectious illness, you get it from someone or something. He picked up malaria on holiday. If something picks up, it improves after a slow start or a bad period. Business has really picked up this year. If you pick up a new skill you learn it easily or casually. Children pick up a second language very easily. To pick up speed is to go faster. The cyclists picked up speed after 10 miles. When the wind picks up it gets stronger. The wind is picking up.
  • 9. Intransitive phrasal verbs are always inseparable: they do not take a direct object between the two parts of the phrasal verb. Examples:  back down  get by  hang up  grow up  keel over  pass out  stay over grow up
  • 10. Transitive phrasal verbs have a direct object Most transitive phrasal verbs can take the direct object between the two parts of the phrasal verb, or after the phrasal verb (separable phrasal verbs). For example: look up something or look (something) up  I looked up ‘freelance’ in my English dictionary.  I looked ‘freelance’ up in my English dictionary. However, if the direct object is a pronoun, it must go between the two parts of the phrasal verb. For example:  I looked it up in my English dictionary.
  • 11. Some transitive phrasal verbs must have the object between the verb and the particle. For example:  talk into – I talked my boss into giving me a pay rise.  pull to – Could you pull the door to, please? Some transitive phrasal verbs must have the object after the particle (the phrasal verb is inseparable). For example:  look after – I look after the children while my wife goes to work.  take after – My son takes after his grandfather.  believe in - I believe in ghosts.
  • 12. More English lessons at http://botanicallinguist.com