Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are informal expressions normally used in spoken English. They are comprised of a verb and a particle (preposition).

Form

Verb

+

Particle


The concert was called off because of rain

called = verb

off = particle


The words in phrasal verbs, also known as multi-word verbs, have a different meaning when they are by themselves than when they are together.

*NOTE: Some phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning.

The plane takes off at 6pm. (this means: the plane left the airport)

Please, take off your shoes. (this means: remove your shoes)

My business really started to take off last year. (this means: my business started to improve)


There are different types of Phrasal verbs:

Separable

These types of phrasal verb can split, meaning that the object of the sentence can go between the verb and the particle.

I picked Kathy up from the airport

I picked up Kathy from the airport

picked up = phrasal verb

Kathy = object

*NOTE: If the object is a pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) the object must go between the verb and the particle.

I picked her up from the airport (NOT: I picked up her from the airport.)

Inseparable

These types of phrasal verb are usually made with prepositions, where the first preposition acts as a verb.

We set off on our trip on Saturday morning (NOT:We set on our trip of on Saturday.)

He got through the difficult training programme. (NOT: He got the difficult training programme through.)

Transitive

These types of phrasal verbs have a direct object, usually a noun or noun phrase.

Brendan gave up smoking last year.

gave up = phrasal verb

smoking = object

The board put off the discussion about the marketing campaign until the next meeting.

put off = phrasal verb

the discussion about the marketing campaign = object

Intransitive

These types of phrasal verbs do not have a direct object.

*NOTE: Some phrasal verbs can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on the context of the sentence.

Could you look up the meaning of this word for me please? (transitive)

It’s been a terrible year but things are finally looking up (intransitive)

*NOTE: Phrasal verbs can fall under a combination of categories (ie: transitive-inseparable).

Three Part Phrasal Verbs

These types of phrasal verbs have two particles and are always inseparable.

Form

Verb

+

Particle

+

Preposition


I can’t put up with the noise anymore.

put = verb

up = particle

with = preposition

Phrasal Verb Dictionary

Click one of the letters below for a list of phrasal verbs, definitions, and examples starting with that letter.


A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z