There is a huge gap that prevents people from communicating naturally in English. It is phrasal verbs (or verb phrases).
Understand what phrasal verbs are and how to use them will certainly help you feel more confident and comfortable when using English. Hence, undeniably, phrasal verbs can be considered as a great tool if you want to communicate fluently like a native.
Therefore, in this article, Learn English Fun Way will share with you all you need to know about phrasal verbs and a list of the most common phrasal verbs that can be applied in your daily conversations.
I) What are phrasal verbs?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, a phrasal verb is a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or an adverb or both, the meaning of which is different from the meaning of its separate parts.
To illustrate, I will give you the example of the word “Pick”.
Pick (verb): to choose somebody/something from a group of people or things
But, when we add the word “Up” behind “Pick”, what will happen ?
We have the phrasal verb “Pick up”. So what does “pick up” mean ? Does it have the same meaning as “pick”
Absolutely no! The meaning of “pick up” has changed. Depending on different contexts, it will have different meanings. For examples:
- To get better, stronger, etc.; to improve
The weather is picking up lately, isn’t it?
- To go somewhere in your car and collect somebody who is waiting for you
Can you pick up Jenny after football practice?
- To collect something from a place
Can you pick up my parcel from the post office?
- To answer a phone
The phone rang and rang and nobody picked up.
- To get information or a skill by chance rather than by making a deliberate effort
She picked up Spanish when she was living in Mexico.
Wow, just only by adding “up” behind “pick”, we have made big changes in the meaning.
II) What are characteristics of phrasal verbs?
1, Transitive and Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
A phrasal verb can be transitive or intransitive. The best way to understand the difference between these two types of verbs is by trying to find the direct object. The direct object is a noun or noun phrase referring to a person or thing which is receiving the action of a transitive verb. To put it simply:
- Transitive phrasal verbs have a direct object
- Intransitive phrasal verbs have no direct object
For examples, “bump into” is a transitive phrasal verb. Hence, it muse be followed by an object. You can’t say “Yesterday, I bumped into. Haven’t seen her in years!” ; instead, you have to say ” Yesterday, I bumped into Sarah. Haven’t seen her in years!”. Similarly, “grow up” is an intransitive phrasal verb; therefore, it can’t be followed by a direct object. You can’t say “I grow her up quickly”; instead, you have to say “She grows up quickly”.
Remember! Some phrasal verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. For examples: “I wake up”; “I wake up Sarah”
2, Separable and Inseparable Phrasal Verbs
A large number of phrasal verbs are transitive, meaning that they take an object. These phrasal verbs have two types, namely “separable” and “inseparable” ones.
Separable phrasal verbs can be broken up by other words, while inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be separated by other words.
For examples: “Wake up” is a separable phrasal verb, so you can say “wake someone up”. “Look up to” is an inseparable phrasal verb, so you have to say “look up to someone” instead of saying “look someone up to”.
Understanding a phrasal verb is transitive or intransitive, separable or inseparable will certainly have you get the right meaning of the phrase as well as improve English better.
III) How to memorize phrasal verbs ?
Before giving you the most common verb phrasal verbs in daily English communication, Learn English Fun Way will share a tip for you to memorize the phrasal verbs more easily: Study by topics.
Imagine you are enjoying a car race. There will be a lot of phrasal verbs related to “pull” used in this situation:
” Hamilton pulled up at the pit stop, Vettel is pulling away slowly, Rosberg is pulling ahead.”
Do you feel like you are immersed in the race? Now come to the airport. You will probably hear or see announcements regarding your luggage:
” The plane takes off in 10 minutes, don’t forget to look after your luggage.”
So in order to practice using phrasal verbs, write a topic or situation in the middle of the page. Then add all phrasal verbs that you know (or search) related to that topic or situation. Do not forget to consider whether each phrasal verb is either transitive or intransitive, integral or inseparable.
IV) Common phrasal verbs for your daily conversations:
|1||Account for||To give an explanation of something||I couldn’t account for the disappearance of the ledge book.|
|2||Bring up||To care for a child, teaching him or her how to behave, etc.||My mother brought me up to be a sympathetic and caring person.|
|3||Carry out||To do and complete a task||She couldn’t carry it out by herself, so she asked me for help.|
|4||Check out||To find out if something is correct, or if somebody is acceptable||We had to check out the package before sending it.|
|5||Clean up||To remove dirt, etc. from somewhere||I have to cook, wash clothes and clean up the house on my own.|
|6||Do away with||To stop doing or having something; to make something end||He thinks it's time we did away with the monarchy.|
|7||Do without||To manage without and accept the lack of||If you’re too lazy to fetch the ice cream, you can just do without|
|8||Dress up||To put on special clothes, eg fancy dress||Peter dressed up this T-shirt for his birthday|
|9||Drop by||To pay an informal visit to a person or a place||I will drop by sometime.|
|10||End up||To reach or come to an end, usually unpleasant||I knew that he would end up in prison.|
|11||Figure out||To understand||I can’t figure out why he said that.
|12||Find out||To discover||I found out what was troubling her.|
|13||Go along with||To agree with somebody/something||I don't go along with her views on private medicine.|
|14||Get off somebody||Used especially to tell somebody to stop touching you or another person||Get off me, that hurts!|
|15||Be/ get rid of||To have removed, to remove; to free oneself from||I’m rid of my debts at last.|
|16||Pass away||To die. People say ‘pass away’ to avoid saying ‘die’.||His mother passed away last year.|
|17||Look after = take care of||To be responsible for or to take care of somebody/something/yourself||Who's going to look after the children while you're away?
|18||Make up your mind||To decide something||Have you made up your minds where to go for your honeymoon?|
|19||Run out of||To use up or finish a supply of something||Could I have a cigarette? I seem to have run out.|
|20||Show off||To try to impress others by talking about your abilities, possessions, etc.||He's just showing off because that girl he likes is here.|
|21||Move on (to something)||To start doing or discussing something new||We move on to the next item on the agenda.|
|22||Talk over||To discuss something carefully and completely, especially in order to reach an agreement or make a decision||They talked over the quotation and decided to give it their approval|
|23||Work out||To calculate something||It’ll work out cheaper to travel by train|
|24||Hold on||Used to tell somebody to wait or stop||Hold on a minute while I will be back|
|25||Wake up = get up||To stop sleeping||She wakes up early.|
|26||Stand for||(Not used in the progressive tenses)|
to be an abbreviation or symbol of something
|‘The book’s by T.C. Smith.’ ‘What does the ‘T.C.’ stand for?’|
|27||Break down||(Of a machine or vehicle) to stop working because of a fault||The air- condition system has broken down.|
|28||Turn down||To reject or refuse to consider an offer, a proposal, etc. or the person who makes it||He turned down a scholarship from his university|
|29||Look back on||To think about something in the past||She usually looks back on her parent.|
|30||Gear up for = prepare for||To prepare yourself/somebody/something to do something||My team is gearing up for the presentation|
Learn English Fun Way believes that mastering the above-mentioned phrasal verbs will help you improve your English communication and make your speaking sound more natural. Remember to practice everyday and make efforts to discover new phrasal verbs and apply them in your daily conversations. Thank you for reading and see you in the next writing!