Easy Learning English

Phrasal verbs - Easy Learning Grammar

A phrasal verb is a type of verb that is created when a main verb is combined with either:
  • an adverb,
take offgive in
blow upbreak in
  • a preposition,
get at (someone)pick on (weaker children)
  • or an adverb + preposition,
put up with (insults)get out of (doing something)

Type A. Verb plus adverb

Some Type A phrasal verbs have no object, i.e. they are intransitive. The sentence makes sense without any further addition to the verb.
  • Mary went away.
  • Helen sat down.
  • The students came back.
Others do require an object, i.e. they are transitive.
  • We could make out a figure in the distance.
  • He tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
  • Could you put your clothes away, please?
If the object is a noun, many Type A phrasal verbs will allow the adverb to come either:
  • before the object,
  • I picked up Jim on my way home.
  • He blew out the candle.
  • She tidied away her things.
  • or after the object.
  • I picked Jim up on my way home.
  • He blew the candle out.
  • She tidied her things away.
If the object is a pronoun, it must come before the adverb.
  • I picked him up.
  • He blew it out.
  • She tidied them away.
Sometimes you can guess the meaning of these verbs from the meanings of the parts.
  • to sit down = sit + down
  • to go away = go + away
Sometimes you have to learn the new meanings, or use a dictionary.
to make up (an answer)= invent
to turn down (an invitation)= decline
to work out (a problem)= solve
to put up (a visitor)= accommodate

Type B. Verb plus preposition

Type B phrasal verbs always have an object. This is because prepositions always have an object.
  • He asked for his bill.
  • He asked for it.
  • She listened to the doctor.
  • She listened to her.
  • They referred to our conversation.
  • They referred to it.
Sometimes there are two objects – the object of the verb and the object of the preposition.
  • He asked the waiter for the bill.

Type C. Verb plus adverb and preposition

Type C phrasal verbs are a combination of the two previous kinds of verb. All the parts of a Type C phrasal verb come before the object.
  • We are looking forward to our holiday/it.
  • Don’t put up with bad behaviour/it.
  • You must look out for the warning signs/them.
  • It is sometimes hard to tell adverbs and prepositions apart, because often the same word can be both a preposition and an adverb, depending on how it is used. For further information about prepositions see Prepositions.
The following are examples of the three types of phrasal verb that are explained on Phrasal verbs.

Type A

Phrasal verbs made from a verb plus an adverb may be intransitive (do not take an object) or transitive (take an object).
some phrasal verbs that
do not take an object
some phrasal verbs that
do take an object
to break downto blow something up
to carry onto break something off
to fall downto bring a child up
to get aboutto bring a subject up
to get upto catch somebody up
to give upto clear something up
to go awayto close something down
to go offto give something up
to go onto leave something out
to grow upto make something up
to hold onto pick someone up

Type B

Phrasal verbs made from a verb plus a preposition are all transitive.
to add to somethingto hope for something
to agree with someoneto insist on something
to apply for a jobto laugh at something
to approve of somethingto listen to something
to arrive at a placeto look after someone
to ask for somethingto look for something
to believe in somethingto look into something
to belong to someoneto pay for something
to call on someoneto refer to something
to care for someoneto rely on someone
to come across somethingto run into someone
to deal with somethingto run over something
Some Type B verbs are doubly transitive, since both the verb and the preposition can have an object.to add insult to injury
ask a grown-up for help
check your answers with the teacher
pay the assistant for your shopping
refer a customer to the manager

Type C

Phrasal verbs with an adverb plus a preposition all take a prepositional object.
to be fed up with somethingto keep away from something
to carry on with somethingto look back on something
to catch up with somethingto look forward to something
to check up on somethingto look out for something
to come up with somethingto look up to someone
to cut down on somethingto make up for something
to do away with somethingto put in for something
to face up to somethingto run away with something
to fall back on somethingto run out of something
to get on with someoneto run up against something
to get out of somethingto stand up for something
to go back on somethingto walk out on someone
to go in for somethingto watch out for something
to break in on someoneto lead up to something

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