Thursday, June 07, 2007

Article - Phrasal Verbs: For Beginners Only

Article - Phrasal Verbs: For Beginners Only

Excerpt from article:

So just what IS a phrasal verb anyway?
There are many types of two-word and three-word verbs, and even a couple of four-word verbs. Only some of them are phrasal verbs, in the strict sense of the term. Linguists will tell us that phrasal verbs have three distinguishing features.

  • spoken intonation falls on the "preposition," (properly
    termed the particle).The first feature is clear when we listen to ourselves say them out loud. This means it was quite alright to stress the particle in our introductory exercises. (Only a linguist is concerned with distinguishing particle from preposition: the former only exists here in phrasal verbs, the latter is a special class of adverb that indicates mode and has a direct object
  • almost all of them have a single-word synonym. We
    teachers occasionally hear that English has a "double vocabulary," a formal word and a casual one. This is an important instance of where the everyday Germanic foundation doubles with Latin- and French-origin words: pick up versus lift, put down versus place, come in versus enter, go out versus exit.
  • the parts are "separable." Here is one part that many, many exercise books and even textbooks are mistaken. When the stress is on the particle, as in rule 1, then pronouns and direct objects fit nicely between the two parts: "pick the book up" and "pick up the book."
  • Contents and more articles at


  1. Hi!
    I read the article about phrasal verbs and very interested for this. In firstly, I not understood when I use a phrasal verb and when I use his synonym? This factor is important for me because I don't know for what case I'm using a phrasal verb:
    a) Conversation
    b) Writings.
    Secondary, the parts of phrasal verb are separable. As I understood pronouns and direct objects fit nicely between the two parts: a) "pick the book up"
    b)"pick up the book"
    What is correct part "a" or "b"?


  2. Mark

    No one can tell you when to use a phrasal verb or its synonym without context. It's not a "one rule fits all situations" matter. In general, phrasals are more informal, colloquial and idiomatic. Of course you would not want to use either unless you understood the meaning and its nuances.

    Next (not "secondary" which does not mean the same thing at all), both a) & b) are correct...

  3. Hi Ms. Vanessa,

    I have downloaded some phrasal verbs and will try to master them. But, it is not easy, I must accept that. I hope that by the end of 3 to 4 weeks I would have learnt some of them.


  4. Rajeev,

    Can you be more specific? Tell us what you are doing to "master" phrasal verbs? I hope you are not relying on just studying and memorizing them. You will never make them "your own" unless you use them regularly.

    Why not try using them regularly in your posts here?

  5. Hi Ms. Vanessa,

    That's what I have stated in my post for Chamber of Commerce. Madam, whenever I write posts I just don't remember these phrasal verbs and rely on other English to express myself. If I am able to recollect these phrasal verbs at the appropriate time, surely I will be benefitted by that. What should be the proper way of memorising phrasal verbs. Should I take 4 or 5 phrasal verbs daily and try to express myself using them? Kindly clarify Madam.




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