Phrasal and prepositional Verbs


10 February

Phrasal and prepositional Verbs

I think that one of the more complicated aspects of the English Language is the common practice of using a preposition to vary the meaning of a verb.

Phrasal Verbs consist of verb + adverb or verb + preposition. The meaning of these combinations is mostly very different from the verb and the adverb or preposition alone.

Let’s inspect the verb look. Together with adverbs or prepositions the phrases have new meanings. Study the following examples:

  • look after – He often looks after his brother. (to take care of somebody or something)
  • look back – My grandfather likes to look back on his childhood. (to think about something in the past)
  • look down – They look down on her because she didn’t study at a university. (to think that somebody is not as as good as others)
  • look for – I’m looking for my watch. (to try to find somebody or something)
  • look forward to – She always looks forward to meeting him. (to be excited about something that is going to happen)
  • look in – Could you look in on Peggy when you are in town? (to make a short visit)
  • look out (for) – Look out for George while you are in the club. (to try to spot somebody or something)
  • look over – Could you look over my report, please? (to review something )
  • look up – You should look up the word in a dictionary. (to look for information – online or offline)

Phrasal Verbs

These verbs consist of verb + adverbPhrasal Verbs can stand alone (intransitive verbs) or they can be used together with an object.

  • Watch out. There is a bike coming.

If there is an adverb in the sentence the phrasal verb can be put before or after the object.

  • He picked the broken car upor
  • picked up the broken car.

If you use the pronoun it for the phrase the broken car, the pronoun has to go between the verb and the adverb.

  • picked it up.

Prepositional Verbs

These verbs consist of verb + preposition. The object has to go after the preposition. The object must not go between the verb and the preposition. Prepositional Verbs cannot be separated.

  • correct: he often looks at his photos
  • incorrect: he often looks his photos at

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