Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is made up of a short verb and a preposition. 

Often this gives the verb a new meaning.



You should give up smoking. (quit)

Please fill in this form. (complete)

She takes after her mother. (looks like)

I know I can count on you. (trust)


Some phrasal verbs have more than one meaning. 

I took up horse riding last year. (develop an interest in)

The extra duties took up most of my time. (consume)

She turned down the radio. (lowered the volume)

She turned down (rejected) our invitation.

Please turn up the radio. (raise the volume)

He turned up (appear) at the party without invitation. 


Most phrasal verbs that take an object can be separated by the object. 

You should give up this job.

You should give this job up.

Let’s pick up the boxes. 

Let’s pick the boxes up.


If you replace the object by a pronoun, you must put the pronoun between the two parts.

Should I give up this job?

Yes you must give it up.

Let’s pick up the boxes. 

Let’s pick them up.


There are a few phrasal verbs that cannot be separated by the object. 

I came across the book by chance. 

It isn’t separated even when you replace the object by a pronoun:

I came across it by chance.


There’s nothing to worry about when the verb doesn’t take an object (intransitive). 

My TV has broken down.

I stayed up all night. 


A few phrasal verbs take a second preposition.

I am behind with my emails. I must catch up on them. 

We want to compensate for this mistake. How can we make up for it?

This noise is intolerable. I cannot put up with it. 

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