Phrasal Verbs

Young woman wearing black dress switching on tv
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What are Phrasal Verbs?:

Phrasal verbs are verbs that are made up of two or more words. For example:

Turn on
Look forward to

turn on -> He turned on the TV.
look forward to -> I look forward to meeting you.

Why are Phrasal Verbs Important?

If you are unfamiliar with phrasal verbs, this guide to what are phrasal verbs explains everything.

Phrasal verbs are used in everyday English by native English speakers to express a wide range of ideas.

Unfortunately, phrasal verbs are often ignored because students focus on only the verb. It's important to take notice of the attached prepositions to phrasal verbs when learning new vocabulary. Phrasal verbs can be literal or figurative in meaning. For example, the phrasal verb 'get into' can mean 'enter' - He got in the car - or figuratively 'accept' - He got into Harvard.

Phrase verbs are made up of a verb, plus one or more particles.

make up -> I made up the story.
get over -> She got over her illness.
put in -> I put in three hours on the project.

In two word phrasal verbs the "particle" is a preposition. In three or more word phrasal verbs the last particle is generally a preposition.

look forward to -> She looks forward to going on vacation.
get ready for -> I'm getting ready for a competition.
get on with -> Let's get on with this job.

There are four types of phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs can be separable or inseparable and they can take an object or not.

Here is a guide to the basics of phrasal verbs. This guide to phrasal verb grammar goes into all the details.

Phrasal Verb Reference Materials:

There are so many phrasal verbs. The Cambridge Phrasal Verb dictionary is 432 pages long! Luckily, not all of these phrasal verbs need to be committed to memory.

This sheet provides a list of the most common phrasal verbs in English and is a good place to start.

Phrasal verbs with 'to get' are some of the most common phrasal verbs. There are also certain common prepositions used to build phrasal verbs:

Departures and arrivals with 'off' and 'on'
Increasing and decreasing with 'up' and 'down'
Phrasal verbs for making arrangements

Learning Phrasal Verbs in Context:

Phrasal verbs can also be learned in context by relating synonyms to the new phrasal verbs you learn. Here is a series of exercises that provides listening examples from which you match the phrasal verb to its definition or synonym.

Build your phrasal verb vocabulary - 1
Build your phrasal verb vocabulary - 2
Build your phrasal verb vocabulary - 3
Build your phrasal verb vocabulary - 4

Phrasal Verb Quizzes:

Learning phrasal verbs also takes a lot of repetition. Quizzes provide some of the best practice. These quizzes provide feedback on phrasal verbs:

Phrasal Verbs with "Bring"
Phrasal Verbs with "Look"
Phrasal Verbs with "Put"
Phrasal Verbs with "Take"
Phrasal Verbs with "Turn"
Mixed Phrasal Verbs
Three Word Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verb Quiz Printouts:

For teachers, here are printable phrasal verb quiz worksheets for in-class use:

Phrasal Verbs Bring
Phrasal Verbs Look
Phrasal Verbs Put
Phrasal Verbs Take 1
Phrasal Verbs Take 2
Phrasal Verbs Turn

Phrasal Verb Lesson Plans:

Finally for teachers, lessons providing reading comprehension and contextual exercises can help your students improve their phrasal verb vocabulary. Here are some lesson plans that focus specifically on phrasal verbs:

(re)Introducing Phrasal Verbs to ESL Students
Phrasal Verb Review Lesson

Mixed Phrasal Verbs 1
Mixed Phrasal Verbs 2
Mixed Phrasal Verbs 3