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Phrasal Verbs - How Important Are They?

Phrasal verbs are combinations of ordinary verbs like put, take, come, and go and particles like in, out, on, and off. They are a very important part of everyday English. Every student of English needs a basic understanding of the most common phrasal verbs and also of common nouns and adjectives made from phrasal verbs.

Prepositions are the glue that holds English together, but many students falter when using newly learned verbs because they do not know that a preposition is also required, or if they do, which one. There are no rules that govern when a preposition, or which preposition, is required, you just have to remember them and for this, you need a lot of practice.

The exercises accompanying the material on these pages are in the form of daily homework sent to you on request. There will be a link to the request form at the end of each section. Once you request the exercises, you will receive a set of 7 emails, one daily, with the exercises you need to fill in and send back to us diligently. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Some phrasal verbs are very easy to understand. For example, it is not difficult to understand 'sit down' or 'come in' because their meanings are obvious. But many phrasal verbs are very idiomatic. Idiomatic means that there is no way to know what the verb and particle mean together by knowing what they mean separately. For example, every beginning-level student learns what the words call, run, off, and out mean, but that does not help the student to know that 'call off' means cancel or that 'run out' means use all of something.

Terms, Abbreviations, and Symbols Used with Phrasal Verbs

  • p.v. = phrasal verb 
  • n. = a noun made from a phrasal verb
  • verb = Verb  refers to the verb part of a phrasal verb. In other words, the phrasal verb minus the particle. In the phrasal verb 'pull over', 'pull' is the verb and 'over' is the particle.
  • particle = The adverbs and prepositions in phrasal verbs are both called particles in this book. Many particles are adverbs and prepositions, and it can be very difficult and confusing to figure out if a particle in a particular phrasal verb is one or the other. Fortunately, this is almost never important to the student, so it is a lot easier to simply call them both particles.
  • part.adj. = participle adjective — a past participle of a phrasal verb used as an adjective 'put on it'.
  • ... = Three dots between the verb and the particle mean that the object of the phrasal verb can be placed between the verb and the particle.

Colour Coding for the Phrasal Verbs Pages

DARK RED shall be used for the verb part of the phrasal verbs (verb) and GREEN for the particle part (particle). The phrasal verb will appear like this on the page: 'call off', 'run out'.

I shall use GREEN for examples of phrases that are correct and RED for incorrect examples. To make it even easier for you, I shall put these two examples side by side.

Let the Learning Start!

You shall find our list of a comprehensive selection of phrasal verbs on this page. Click on the links from this list to get to the relevant verbs. At the end of each verb you'll find a link to the request form for the exercises for these verbs. The list is going to grow slowly, so please, be patient.

I hope the time and effort you're putting into finding out more about phrasal verbs is going to pay off. If you'll knock yourself out, stick with it, and not fall behind or get mixed up or burned out, a great improvement in your ability to understand and use English will come about — you'll end up being better able to figure out what you read and hear and better able to come up with the right word when you write or speak. But don't get stressed out and give up if you can't remember every meaning of every verb — improving your vocabulary takes time. It comes down to regularly brushing up on what you have learned and, when you come across a word you don't know, look it up in a dictionary. Keep at it!

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