Phrasal Verbs

Young woman wearing black dress switching on tv
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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.

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:

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.

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: