Phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are very common in English and there are many to learn. There are also some rules when using phrasal verbs, which is what we look at in this lesson.

Phrasal Verbs

We use phrasal verbs all the time in English. They contain 1 verb and either 1 or 2 extra words (particles) that change the meaning of the verb. 

I called him to see if he was okay. (call = to telephone)
They’ve called off the event because of rain. (call off = to cancel)

There are two types of phrasal verb: separable and inseparable. 


In separable phrasal verbs, the verb and particle can be next to each other or separated by other words.

He’s filled the form in.
He’s filled in the form.

If you use a personal pronoun, we always separate the phrasal verb.

 They’ve paid him back.

Here are some common separable phrasal verbs:

I must of set the alarm off.
(set off = to turn on an object)

She’ll pick him up from the airport at 3 p.m.
(pick up = collect someone to take them somewhere)

She put the study off for too long.
(put off = to do something at a later time)


Some phrasal verbs must be together. 

I have to look after my cousin tonight.

They always come together, even if there is a personal pronoun.

He needs to stand up for him!

Here are some common non-separable phrasal verbs:

I need to lean on you for this project.
(lean on = to rely on heavily)

He turned into a handsome man.
(turn into = become)

I hope he gets over his fear of heights.
(get over = overcome)

longer seperables

If there are two particles in a phrasal verb it is also inseparable. 

Let’s get rid of this rubbish, it’s disgusting.
(get rid of = throw somethings away)

He’s looking forward to going to university.
(look forward to = be excited about something)

I came up with a new design for the car?
(come up with = think of something new)

Which sentence is correct (go along)(inseparable)

Which sentence is correct? (put up with)

Which sentence is correct? (called off) (separable)

Which sentence is correct? (bring up) (separable)

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