Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and a particle (an adverb or a preposition) that has a different meaning than the original verb. Phrasal verbs are commonly used in English and are important for communicating effectively and naturally.

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs:

  • break down (to stop working properly)
  • come up with (to think of)
  • give up (to stop doing something)
  • look forward to (to anticipate with pleasure)
  • put off (to postpone)

As you can see, the meaning of the phrasal verb is often not related to the meaning of the individual words in the phrase.

Particle Types

There are two types of particles: adverbs and prepositions. When the particle is an adverb, the phrasal verb is called an intransitive phrasal verb. When the particle is a preposition, the phrasal verb is called a transitive phrasal verb.

Intransitive Phrasal

Verbs An intransitive phrasal verb does not take an object. For example:

  • She broke down in tears. (Not “She broke down the car in tears.”)
  • The meeting broke up early. (Not “The boss broke up the meeting early.”)

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

A transitive phrasal verb takes an object. For example:

  • He turned off the lights. (Not “He turned off.”)
  • They ran into their old teacher. (Not “They ran into.”)

Separable and Inseparable Phrasal Verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs can be separable or inseparable. Separable phrasal verbs can have the object come between the verb and the particle, while inseparable phrasal verbs cannot.

For example:

  • I will put off the meeting until next week. (separable)
  • I will put the meeting off until next week. (inseparable)

It’s important to remember which phrasal verbs are separable and which are inseparable, as this can affect the sentence structure.

Using Phrasal

Verbs in Writing Phrasal verbs are commonly used in spoken English, but they are also used in writing. Using phrasal verbs can make your writing more interesting and engaging.

However, it’s important to use phrasal verbs appropriately and not overuse them. Too many phrasal verbs can make your writing sound informal and may not be appropriate for academic or formal writing.

Practice Exercises

  1. Identify the phrasal verb in the following sentence: I need to come up with a new idea for the project.
  2. Is the following phrasal verb separable or inseparable? She called off the meeting.
  3. Rewrite the following sentence using a phrasal verb: The children refused to stop talking during class.


  1. come up with
  2. inseparable
  3. The children wouldn’t shut up during class.

Apostrophe rules

Plural Spelling Rules