Unit 50 Phrasal verbs

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Main points

* A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and an adverb or preposition.

* The usual meaning of the verb is normally altered.

* Phrasal verbs are used in four main structures.

1 Phrasal verbs are verbs that combine with adverbs or prepositions. The adverbs and prepositions are called particles, for example `down’, `in’, `off’, `out’, and `up’.
She turned off the radio.
Mr Knight offered to put him up.

2 Phrasal verbs extend the usual meaning of the verb or create a new meaning. For example, if you `break’ something, you damage it, but if you `break out of’ a place, you escape from it.
They broke out of prison on Thursday night.
The pain gradually wore off.

3 Phrasal verbs are normally used in one of four main structures. In the first structure, the verb is followed by a particle, and there is no object.

break outget bylook instop off
catch ongive inring offwait up
check upgo awaystart outwatch out
come ingrow upstay upwear off

War broke out in September.
You’ll have to stay up late tonight.

4 In the second structure, the verb is followed by a particle and an object.

fall forgrow onpart withset about
feel forlook afterpick ontake after

She looked after her invalid mother.
Peter takes after his father but John is more like me.

5 In the third structure, the verb is followed by an object and a particle.

answer backcall backcount inorder about
ask incatch outinvite outtell apart

I answered him back and took my chances.
He loved to order people about.

6 Some phrasal verbs can be used in both the second structure and the third structure: verb followed by a particle and an object, or verb followed by an object and a particle.

add on, bring up, call up, fold up, hand over, knock over, point out, pull down, put away, put up, rub out, sort out, take up, tear up, throw away, try out

It took ages to clean up the mess.
It took ages to clean the mess up.
There was such a mess. It took ages to clean it up.

WARNING: If the object is a pronoun, it must go in front of the particle. You cannot say `He cleaned up it’.

7 In the fourth structure, the verb is followed by a particle and a preposition with an object.

break out of, catch up with, come down with, get on with, go down with, keep on at, look forward to, make off with, miss out on, play around with, put up with, run away with, stick up for, talk down to, walk out on

You go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you later.
Children have to learn to stick up for themselves.

8 A very few verbs are used in the structure: verb followed by an object, a particle, and a preposition with its object.

do out of, let in for, put down to, put up to, take out on, talk out of

I’ll take you up on that generous invitation.
Kroop tried to talk her out of it.

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