PHRASAL VERBS – Definition
PHRASAL VERBS are sometimes called two-word or three-word verbs, or verb phrases.
A Phrasal Verb is a verb plus a particle. A particle is a small word. Usually, but not always, the particle is a preposition.
Many Phrasal Verbs are idiomatic. This means that if you know the meaning of the individual words, it will not help you understand the meaning of the Phrasal Verb. When the words are put together, the meaning changes.
For example, your friend tells you that he is going to give up smoking. You know that give means to make a present and that up is a direction. You are confused!
But if you know that the Phrasal Verb give up means to quit doing something, then you know that your friend plans to stop smoking.
Many of our students have told us that they studied English for years in their home country, but when they arrived in Canada, they could not understand what people were saying!
One of the main reasons for this is that no one had taught them Phrasal Verbs.
Spoken English is filled with Phrasal Verbs and yet very few school teach them. If you want to have conversations with English speakers, you MUST learn Phrasal Verbs.
Here is a simple overview of the rules for Phrasal Verbs.
There are two kinds of Phrasal Verbs – inseparable and separable.
1. Inseparable Phrasal Verbs are easy. You use them the same way you would use any main verb.
eg. Check out means to pay your bill and return your key card when you leave a hotel. “We should check out at 11:00 am.”
2. Separable Phrasal Verbs can be kept together or separated.
Remember that basic sentence structure is: SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT
In a Separable Phrasal Verb the OBJECT goes between the two parts of the Phrasal Verb.
e.g., Hand in means to give something to someone in authority. “Please hand in your tests.” “Please hand your tests in.”
Some Phrasal Verbs have many meanings. Not all the definitions are included on this website.
Note: We used s.o. for someone and s.t. for something in the Phrasal Verb definitions.