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Phrasal Verbs

This is a huge section of the verb category in English grammar and mastering it will need some learning. Let me break our series of lessons about phrasal verbs. I'm sure they are easy to use for some of our readers as well as a great challenge for others.

This is a huge section of the verb category in English grammar and mastering it will need some learning. Once you get to that stage, you won't be sorry, that's a promise! Anyway, you can start with the game below.

As you know by now, in English there are many differences of vocabulary between formal and informal language. Formal English vocabulary is mostly of French, Latin and Greek origin. We can use other words and phrases, to replace these with less formal ones, mostly of Anglo-Saxon origin:
"commence" with "begin";
"continue" with "keep (up)";
"conclude" with "end":

“The class will commence at 8 a.m.” formal - or
“The class will begin at 8 a.m.”
“The students are continuing their quest for freedom of speech.” formal
“The students are keeping up their quest ...” rather informal

Let me show you some verbs like this and their equivalents:

FORMAL ---------------------- INFORMAL
Or common core word ----- Equivalent of the formal version
discover ------------------------ find out
explode ------------------------- blow up
encounter ----------------------- come across
invent --------------------------- make up
enter ---------------------------- go in (to)
tolerate ------------------------- put up with
investigate ---------------------- look into
surrender ----------------------- give in

We call the combination of [a verb + a preposition] 'a phrase', hence the expression 'phrasal verb'. Now, you need to make a distinction between a phrasal verb and a prepositional verb.

‘To look into’, meaning ‘investigate’ is a phrasal verb, because ‘to look’ means something and ‘look into’ means something else. So, as you can see, adding the particle ‘into’ to the verb, its meaning has changed.

However, the verb ‘to look at’ (somebody, etc.) has the same meaning as the verb ‘to look’, which is the sign that this is a prepositional verb.

For a better understanding of this grammatical matter, I suggest a future lesson, in which we can also look at some examples, for clarification.

Another important aspect in studying the phrasal verbs is whether or not we are dealing with separable or inseparable phrasal verbs.

Time for some practice

Let us have a closer look at the phrasal verb "to look after" somebody, something or yourself. Read these sentences carefully:

  • She found that looking after a young child on her own wasn't easy.
  • Who's looking after the apartment while Amy and Ben are away?
  • That bike was expensive. You should look after it.
  • He was sixteen and he felt that he was old enough to look after himself.
  • My sister is still very ill and is being looked after by our parents.

Quite straightforward, wouldn't you say? Now try your hand at the following:

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

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