Understanding and Using Phrasal Verbs
written by Lilian Ndongmo. ESL Teacher
“Phrasal verbs are so difficult!”
How many times have you said this? You may not like using phrasal verbs because you think they are too complicated. Relax.
I want you to fall in love with phrasal verbs because
-they are very often used in newspapers, on TV, in books, etc
-they are very often used by speakers of English in every- day conversation
-you’ll look and feel cool to use them! (seriously. They up your level – make you look and sound classy!)
-you’ll sound less of a robot and more like human.
So, what are phrasal verbs?
Phrasal verbs are
–a combination of one verb and one preposition
–a combination of one verb and one adverb
What MUST you know about Phrasal Verbs?
1. Most of them have more than one meaning.
2. Some of them have a combination of one verb, and two prepositions
Example: put up with
(Yes, this is more complicated, but don’t worry. We’ll see this combination later).
How to use Phrasal Verbs in a sentence
The position of the phrasal verb in a sentence depends on:
1. its meaning, and/ or
2. whether the sentence has an object or not.
It can be used together.
Form: Subject + PV (phrasal verb) + object (Noun)
Example: I take off my shoes
It can be split.
Form: Subject + verb + object (Noun) + preposition (also called ‘particle’)
Example: I take my shoes off
Note: For both sentences, the meaning is the same.
You must respect and use the correct tense in your sentence.
Note: Only the verb can be conjugated. Do not change the form of the particle.
She takes off her shoes (present tense)
She is taking off her shoes(present continuous/progressive tense)
She took off her shoes (past tense)
She will take off her shoes(future tense)
- There is no specific formula in learning phrasal verbs, so the best way is to learn them by heart
- Learn their meanings, their position in a sentence and their grammatical structure
- Practise, practise, practise. Use them when you speak and write.