Grammar: Phrasal verbs: form and meaning


Formation

A phrasal verb is a verb + adverb or preposition, and occasionally a verb + adverb and preposition.

The price of petrol is going up (= increasing) again.

He fell over (= fell to the ground) and hurt his knee.

She's trying to find out (= learn/discover) the name of that new hotel.

Who's going to look after (= take care of) the children when their mother is in hospital?

If you don't understand the meaning, look it up. (= find the meaning in a dictionary)

He doesn't get on with (= have a good relationship with) his parents, (verb + adv + prep)

 

Meaning

Sometimes the adverb or preposition doesn't change the meaning, but makes it sound more natural.

I didn't wake up until 7 o'clock. I'm saving up for a new computer.

Hurry up or we'll be late. She stood up and went over to the door.

Sit down and be quiet. He told me to lie down on the bed.

Sometimes an adverb adds a particular meaning. For example, back can mean 'return'.

I'm going to take that jacket back to the shop; it's too small.

You can look at the books but remember to put them back on the shelf.

More often, the adverb or preposition changes the meaning of the verb: 'take off doesn't mean the same as 'take', and 'get on' doesn't mean the same as 'get'. Here are some examples:

It took her a long time to get over (= get better/recover from) her illness.

We'll take a short break and then carry on (= continue) with the meeting.

My wife has decided to give up (= stop) smoking.

I can't make any sandwiches - we've run out of bread. (= no bread is left; it is finished)

I've told them we can't put the meeting off. (= change the time of the meeting to a later date)

Multiple meanings

Be careful: many phrasal verbs have more than one meaning.

It was so hot I had to take off (= remove) my jacket.

I'm always nervous when the plane takes off. (= leaves the ground)

I've got a lot of work to get through (= finish) before Friday.

I tried phoning him, but I couldn't get through. (= make contact and

talk to him)

My alarm clock didn't go off (= ring) this morning.

The bomb could go off (= explode) at any minute. [See picture.]

The fish will go off (= go bad) if you don't put it in the fridge.

I picked up most of the rubbish. (= took it from a place, using my hands) I have to pick Jane up (= collect her in my car) from the station.

Grammar: intransitive verbs

Some phrasal verbs are intransitive. They don't need an object after the verb, and we cannol put another word between different parts of the verb.

He grew up in a city. (= spent his childhood/developed into an adult) (NOT He grew

in a city up.)

Don't wait out there. Please come in. (= enter)

I'm going to stay in (= stay at home) this evening.

We set off (= started the journey; usually a long journey) at about 7.30.

В Grammar: transitive verbs

Many phrasal verbs are transitive: they need a direct object after the verb. You can usually put the object between the different parts of the verb, or after the phrasal verb.

Put on your shoes. / Turn on the TV. / Take off your coat. /

Put your shoes on. / Turn the TV on. У Take your coat off. У

If the object is a pronoun, it must go in the middle.

Put them on. / (Put on them.) Turn it on. J (Turn on it.) Take it off. У (Take off it,)

С In dictionaries

You can use a dictionary to check the grammar. Most dictionaries show it like this:

carry on, get by (= intransitive phrasal verb)

I can get by in French. (= I can manage in French, but I don't speak it well.)

put sth<—>on, throw sth<—>away (= transitive phrasal verb)

Did you throw those books away? (= get rid of them/put them in a rubbish bin)

Did you throw away those books?

get over sth, look after sb/sth (= verb + preposition + object)

Maria will look after (= take care of) the children. (Maria will look after them.)

D Style: formal or informal?

Most phrasal verbs are more common in spoken English. In written English there is often a more formal word with the same meaning. (The other words in bold are often used with these verbs.)

make sth up = invent/create sth (from your imagination), e.g. We had to make up a story, leave sth out = omit sth (= decide not to do sth), e.g. You can leave out question 7. sort sth out = solve sth (such as a problem), e.g. We asked the computer guy to sort it out. turn sb/sth down = reject sth (= say no to sth), e.g. I offered him £50, but he turned it down

Some phrasal verbs are used in written English if there is no other easy way to express the I meaning.

wake up, e.g. I always wake up early, even at weekends.

break down (= go wrong/stop working), e.g. The car broke down on the motorway.

take off (= leave the ground), e.g. The plane couldn't take off because of bad weather.

break into sth (= enter by force, often illegally), e.g. Thieves broke into the house and stole £500.

 

Complete the phrasal verbs. Remember to put the verb into the correct form.

1 I don't think they ever ...$№№........................out how the man escaped.

2 The children went round the school and...............................up all the rubbish.



3 This milk smells horrible; I think it has......................................off.

4 I rang the tourist information office but I couldn't..........................through. It's

engaged all the time.

5 The relationship was difficult at first, but I think she....................on with him

quite well now.

6 If she's still ill tomorrow, we'll have to....................off the trip to France until

later in the month.

7 I agreed to.................................after my sister's cat when she goes to France.

8 We can.......................on with this exercise while the others are in the library.

9 Our English teacher said we should...............through the textbook by the end

of the course.

10 I'm afraid this photocopier has.............out of paper, but you can use the one

in my office.

Complete these sentences in a logical way.

1 It will take her a long time to get over .............................................................

2 The plane took off.............................................................................................

3 He had to look it up..........................................................................................

4 I don't really get on with ..................................................................................

5 She came in and took off...................................................................................

6 I've decided to give up ...................................................................................

7 Who is going to look after................................................................................?

8 I went to the garage to pick up .........................................................................

9 I'm afraid we've run out of..................................................................................

10 My rent is going up .........................................................................................

 

Look at the dictionary entry for 'go off, and match the meanings with the sentences below.

go off 1 |LEAVE| to leave a place and go somewhere else She's gone off to the pub with Tony.

2 |FOOD| UK informal If food goes off, it is not good to eat any more because it is too old.

3 |STOP| If a light or machine goes off, it stops working. The heating goes off at 10 o'clock.

4 |EXPLODE| If a bomb or gun goes off, it explodes or fires.

5 MAKE NOISE If something that makes a noise goes off, it suddenly starts making a noise. His car alarm goes off every time it rains.

1 When the light goes off, the machine has finished.

2 My alarm clock went off early this morning.

3 I think this meat has gone off.

4 The bomb went off without any warning.

Write two sentences for each of these phrasal verbs to show their different meanings.

pick up take off go off get through

 

Correct any mistakes with word order in these sentences. Be careful: some are correct.

1 He's putting his boots on.

2 I told the children I'd pick up them after school.

3 She grew on a farm up.

4 We set off very early this morning.

5 It's a big problem but the man will sort out it.

6 I think she made that story up.

7 We know there were two thieves, but do you know how they broke the house into?

8 I said I'd look after them if necessary.

 

Make these texts more informal by changing the underlined verbs to phrasal verbs.

1 The cost of living is increasing all the time and I am now finding it quite difficult to manage on my salary. I can probably continue for a few months, but after that I may have to look for another job.

2 She told us to enter, but then we had to remove our shoes.

3 The teacher told half the class to invent a story to go with the picture in our books, while the other half did Exercise 5. She said we could all omit Exercise 4 if we wanted

4 I don't know why he rejected my offer of help because the company is in a lot of trouble and they've got no one to solve the problems.

 

Fill the gaps to complete the phrasal verbs in these sentences.

1 I'm afraid the photocopier has just broken.......................

2 I couldn't do the second question, so I left it.......................

3 Put your coat.......................if you're cold.

4 If there are problems with the computer, I usually have to sort it.......................

5 He told me he was 25, but I don't believe him. I think he's making that.......................

6 You're not going to throw.......................that food, are you?

7 Why couldn't the plane take....................... ?

8 I think she grew.......................in a small village.

9 We'll get there by seven if we set.......................now.

10 They offered him the job but he turned it.......................

 









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