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27 / 10 / 2009

PHRASAL VERB GRAMMAR-1: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Last week I gave you some tips for learning phrasal verbs and their meaning. This week I want to talk about the grammar of phrasal verbs.

As you know, a phrasal verb always includes a main verb combined with an adverbial particle. Some examples are look up, take care of, get up and look forward to. (I've underlined the adverbial particles.) When you learn a phrasal verb, not only do you have to learn the meaning of the verb, but you need to be aware of the structure of the phrasal verb and how the main verb and particle position themselves with respect to the object (if there is an object).

In English there are verbs that take one or more objects (transitive verbs):

1) He threw out the rubbish.
2) He threw the rubbish out.

In examples 1 and 2, "the rubbish" is the direct object of the transitive phrasal verb throw out. Notice that the object can separate the main verb from its particle and the sentence is still grammatically correct.

Some verbs are intransitive and don't take an object:

3) David woke up at 7:00 AM this morning.

In example 3, the phrasal verb wake up does not have an object. (If a phrasal verb is intransitive, then obviously you don't have to worry about the position of the object with respect to the main verb and the adverbial particle.)

So, we can divide phrasal verbs into three structural categories:

1) Transitive and Separable (the object can separate the main verb from its particle)
2) Transitive and Inseparable (the object cannot separate the main verb from its particle)
3) Intransitive (the main verb does not take an object)

Over the next couple of days we will look at some examples and give more information about the "grammar of phrasal verbs. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the phrasal verb article included in the Resources section on our website: Trying to Organise the Phrasal Verb "Chaos". Here is the link to the section.

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Enjoy the rest of your day.