What Are Phrasal Verbs?

Some English verbs can be followed by prepositions or adverb particles.

  • Alice ran into the room crying.
  • He walked down the street.
  • Do sit down.

Some verbs and prepositions / particles are always used together. Examples are: stand up, sit down, look at, listen to, switch off etc. Note that these structures are often called phrasal verbs. In most cases, the meaning of a phrasal verb is very different from the meanings of the two words in it.

Consider the sentence given below:

  • The meeting has been put off. (The meaning of put off is different from the meanings of put and off.)

Three-word verbs

Some verbs can be used with both an adverb particle and a preposition.

Examples are: get on with, put up with, look out for etc.

  • He gets on with his mother in law quite well.
  • How do you put up with her?

Note that a verb + preposition combination is usually inseparable.

  • He fell off the ladder. (NOT He fell the ladder off.)

The particle in a verb + adverb particle combination can go before or after noun objects.

  • He switched the light off. OR He switched off the light.

If the object is a pronoun, the particle goes after it.

  • She switched it off. (NOT She switched off it.)

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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