Phrasal Verbs

What are Phrasal Verbs?

A phrasal verb that combines a normal verb with an adverb or a preposition to create an entirely new verbal phrase is called the phrasal verb.

A phrasal verb is a verb like pick up, turn on or get on with.

Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and a preposition or an adverb:


Sometimes phrasal verbs consist of three elements:

VerbPreposition / adverb 1Preposition / adverb 2

You can see that there are three types of phrasal verbs formed from a single-word verb:

Single-word verbVerbMeaningExample
Look direct your eyes in a certain directionYou must look before you leap.
Phrasal verbVerbMeaningExample
verb + adverblook upto try to find a piece of information by looking in a book or on a computerYou can look up the word in a dictionary.
verb + prepositionlook aftertake care ofWho is looking after the baby?
verb + adverb + prepositionLook forward toawait eagerlyShe is looking forward to visiting Paris.

Types of phrasal verbs

  • There are four types of phrasal verbs, divided into two pairs: transitive and intransitive; separable and inseparable. 
  • A phrasal verb can belong to only one of each pair, but keep in mind that all separable phrasal verbs are transitive.

Transitive phrasal verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs use a direct object, just like normal transitive verbs.


  1. She looked at the magazine and then put it down.
  2. What a pretty dress! Why don’t you try it on?
  3. If you’ve got a good idea, bring it up at the meeting.

Intransitive phrasal verbs

  • Intransitive phrasal verbs do not use an object. 


  1. My colleague and I get on really well.
  2. This car is terrible. It breaks down all the time!
  3. I don’t like to get up.

Separable phrasal verbs

  • With transitive phrasal verbs, you can sometimes put the direct object in between the words, for example, “made up.”
  • Sometimes, the preposition/adverb is placed either after the verb or after the object.


  1. Mary made up a really entertaining story.
  2. They turned my offer down.
  3. I really like this dress. Can I try it on?

Inseparable phrasal verbs

  • Inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be split up and must be used together. 


  1. The wayward son carried on without his father.
  2. I came across some old photos in a drawer.
  3. I had to run to get on the train, but I made it!

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