Phrasal Verbs - Explore Their Meaning, Definition and Examples

Want to know how to speak English in a polished and sophisticated manner? Try using phrasal verbs in the place of normal verbs. As speakers of the English language, we use a lot of verbs and phrasal verbs in our everyday communication. Most of the time, we are not aware that we are making use of these verbs. This article on phrasal verbs will enlighten you with the meaning, definition and examples of phrasal verbs. Try out the practice questions as well to check your understanding of phrasal verbs and their usage.

Table of Contents

What is a Phrasal Verb?

A phrasal verb can be said to be a combination of a verb and an adverb or a preposition. In some cases, it is a combination of all the three parts of speech – verb, adverb and preposition. Though each of these parts of speech have different functions, they play the role of the verb when they are put together. They can also act as a phrase and that is why these verbs are called phrasal verbs.

Definition of a Phrasal Verb

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a phrasal verb as “a verb combined with an adverb or a preposition, or sometimes both, to give a new meaning, for example, ‘go in for’, ‘win over’ and ‘see to’.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a phrasal verb is defined as “a phrase (such as take off or look down on) that combines a verb with a preposition or adverb or both, and that functions as a verb whose meaning is different from the combined meanings of the individual words.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a phrasal verb as “a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or adverb or both, the meaning of which is different from the meaning of its separate parts.”

Types of Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs can be divided into four main types or rather two main categories based on how they behave when used in sentences. They are:

  • Transitive Phrasal Verbs
  • Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
  • Separable Phrasal Verbs
  • Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

Just like normal transitive verbs, a transitive phrasal verb can be identified by its demand for an object.

For example :

  • It was not possible for Veena to do away with all of it as they brought back so many memories of the past.
  • Can you fill in the required details so that we can move forward with the screening process.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Intransitive phrasal verbs behave exactly like intransitive verbs. They do not require an object to complete the sentence they are used in or make sense of the context.

For example:

  • My car broke down all of a sudden while driving through the ghat section.
  • It has been years since we met, we should definitely catch up.

Separable Phrasal Verbs

Separable phrasal verbs include transitive phrasal verbs which have the characteristic property of separating the phrasal verb with the object in between. There is, however, a word order which should be taken into account when separating the phrasal verb.

For example:

  • I am not the kind of person who holds all of this against you.
  • Dhiraj is the one who is taking care of the applications for gold loan. Can you please hand it over to him?

Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Inseparable phrasal verbs, as the name suggests, cannot be separated from each other and have to be used together, no matter what.

For example:

  • You will have to account for all the losses that have been incurred.
  • Harish was asked to check out of the hotel before 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

How to Use Phrasal Verbs?

As fun and interesting as it is to use phrasal verbs, there are a few pointers you have to keep in mind when using them in your daily communication. Following a particular word order and conjugating it to represent the tense of the sentence are the two things you have to learn and put into practice.

Conjugating Phrasal Verbs

As far as the conjugation part is concerned, all you have to remember is to employ the same rules of conjugation you would if the verb stands by itself. When the phrasal verb is used as a main verb, you have to conjugate the verb alone according to the respective tense and not change the preposition in the phrasal verb.

For example:

  • Heera dropped out of school due to her illness. (Drop out)
  • My friend, Sharon, had broken up with her boyfriend last month. (Break up)
  • The security guard asked around the whole building to know whose car was parked right in front of the gate. (Ask around)
  • I hung out with my friends after the wedding reception. (Hang out)

Note that, in the above sentences, the prepositions remain the same whereas the verbs ‘dropped’, ‘asked’ and ‘hung’ have been conjugated in the simple past form and the verb ‘broken’ has been conjugated in the past participle form. Keep in mind that irregular verbs take the same spellings as they do when used as normal verbs conjugated in the different forms.

Using the Right Word Order

Word order comes into the picture mainly when you are attempting to split up the phrasal verbs. Always bear in mind that intransitive phrasal verbs and inseparable phrasal verbs have to be used together. The verb and the participle/preposition should go next to each other.

With separable phrasal verbs, it is different. They are transitive and always have a direct object to complete them. You can separate the phrasal verb by putting the direct object in between the verb and the preposition.

For example:

  • Kate let me down when she did not show up for my court hearing.

Some phrasal verbs will always require to be separated by the direct object in between.

For example:

  • We are very glad that we have you around during this difficult time.

When noun phrases act as the object, it can also be placed in between the verb and the preposition.

For example:

  • He was asked to leave all of it out for approval.

Examples of Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are most often a topic that confuses a lot of people, especially second language learners and new learners of the language. Since the multiple words used in a phrasal verb have different meanings and have a completely different meaning when used together, they end up being a slightly puzzling topic for some.

Phrasal verbs can be conjugated to suit the tense of the sentence and can be used like a normal verb. Here are a few examples of phrasal verbs. Identify how many of them you know and how often you use them in your regular communication.

Give up – combination of a verb (give) and a preposition (up)

Individually, the verb ‘give’ means to give something to someone and the preposition ‘up’ shows the position of some object. The magic happens or the confusion begins when both the verb and the preposition are used together. The phrasal ‘give up’ means to surrender or to stop making an effort in doing something.

Let us look at how the phrasal verb ‘give up’ can be conjugated to represent the different verb forms in English.

  • Simple Past Form

The captain gave up at the last quarter.

  • Infinitive Form

It was not easy for the coach to give up trying to encourage the team even in such a hopeless situation.

  • Gerund Form

Giving up is not the solution to the problem, it is just the easiest choice.

  • Past Participle Form

I have given up on them.

Check Your Understanding of Phrasal Verbs

Fill in the blanks by choosing the most appropriate phrasal verbs from the list of phrasal verbs given below. Conjugate them to suit the tense of the sentence.

(stand for, narrow down, hold on, run into, check out, go through, fall apart, pull off, fill in, hold against)

1. Make sure you _________ of the hotel at the right time, else they will charge you extra.

2. Levin was asked to _______ for Suresh.

3. ________ the whole itinerary before you make a decision.

4. Tom and Jerry ___________ after their last meeting.

5. Please _________ for a minute, I forgot to take my car keys.

6. It is not good to _______ such a silly issue _______ her for so many years.

7. Do you think Andreah would be able to _____ it _____ all by herself?

8. We have _____________ the possibilities of them finding us.

9. Do you know who we _______ on our way here?

10. Nelson Mandela ________ for the rights of his people.

Check your answers here.

1. Make sure you check out of the hotel at the right time, else they will charge you extra.

2. Levin was asked to fill in for Suresh.

3. Go through the whole itinerary before you make a decision.

4. Tom and Jerry fell apart after their last meeting.

5. Please hold on for a minute, I forgot to take my car keys.

6. It is not good to hold such a silly issue against her for so many years.

7. Do you think Andreah would be able to pull it off all by herself?

8. We have narrowed down the possibilities of them finding us.

9. Do you know who we ran into on our way here?

10. Nelson Mandela stood up for the rights of his people.

Frequently Asked Questions on Phrasal Verbs in English

What is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb can be said to be a combination of a verb and an adverb or a preposition. In some cases, it is a combination of all the three parts of speech – verb, adverb and preposition. Though each of these parts of speech have different functions, they play the role of the verb when they are put together. They can also act as a phrase and that is why these verbs are called phrasal verbs.

What is the definition of a phrasal verb?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a phrasal verb as “a verb combined with an adverb or a preposition, or sometimes both, to give a new meaning, for example, go in for’, ‘win over’ and ‘see to’.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a phrasal verb is defined as “a phrase (such as take off or look down on) that combines a verb with a preposition or adverb or both, and that functions as a verb whose meaning is different from the combined meanings of the individual words.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a phrasal verb as “a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or adverb or both, the meaning of which is different from the meaning of its separate parts.”

Give some examples of phrasal verbs.

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs which you can use in your daily communication – stand up, go through, check in, fall apart, make up, stop over, put up with, do away with, hold up, get through, give in, etc.

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.

*

*