There is a common pattern among my students when talking about their English skills, and which of their skills are stronger and weaker. Most students complain that they don’t speak as well as they would like to, and/or lack the confidence to … Continue reading
Understanding phrasal verbs can help you avoid situations like the cartoon above. Knowing them can make you sound more like a native speaker, and definitely help you understand native speakers, because they are incredibly common in everyday speech.
Phrasal verbs are idiomatic like expressions that have meanings separate from their literal verb meaning. They are also called two-word verbs because they are made up of a verb + a particle. There are also phrasal verb + preposition combinations, which would make three-word verbs. Let’s review some more information about phrasal verbs:
What’s the difference between a preposition and a particle?
Although they look the same, prepositions and particles are much different because one of them, particles, changes the meaning of the main verb it’s attached to. We’ll use the cartoon above as an example. The phrasal verb is: “step on it.” If we look at the words: ‘on’ and ‘it’ as prepositions, then there would be no change in the verb ‘step.’ So, “step on it” would mean to literally pick up your foot, and place your foot on whatever “it” is referring to. This is what the waiter in the cartoon did, because he obviously didn’t understand that the man meant “step on it” as a phrasal verb, which means to move/go quickly. As a phrasal verb the word “on” is not a preposition, but a particle, so remember it changes the meaning of the main verb “step.” I t no longer has the meaning “on top of.”
What’s the difference between transitive and intransitive?
Transitive verbs are verbs that take objects, so these phrasal verbs will always have an object (noun or pronoun) connected to it. Most of these verbs are separable, which means that you can put the object in between the main verb and particle. A couple of things to remember about this though:
1. If the object is a pronoun, it must go between the verb and particle (ex: look it up. Not:
look up it. *look up=try to find information in a book/online,etc).
2. If the object is a long noun phrase, then it must go after the particle (ex: look up the cause for global warming nowadays. Not:
look the cause for global warming nowadays up.).
Intransitive verbs do NOT take objects, so neither will these phrasal verbs. With that said, they are inseparable.
How do you learn?
For a couple of tips watch my video!
Phrasal Verbs from the video context:
- To feel under the weather: (idiom) to not feel well, to feel sick
- show up- to arrive or appear somewhere
- call off- to cancel something
- get over- to overcome a problem, such as a sickness
- drink to- “cheers” to celebrate someone or something
- dress up- to wear formal clothing or special clothing for an event (ex: costume)
- whip up- to prepare food quickly
- head out- to begin a journey, to leave your house/place
- turn down- refuse, decline invitation
- cheer (someone) up- make someone happy who was not
Other phrasal verbs: show & call:
- show around- to act as a guide and point/show someone a new area or place
- show off- to boast or brag
- call for- to say something is needed; to go to a place and get something or someone
- call in- to make a telephone call to a place (or commonly:radio show); also to call work and not go because you’re sick. (ex:call in sick)
- call on- to choose someone to speak, ask someone to do something;
- call out- to shout, or speak in a loud voice, with a person to challenge them about what they said/did
- call up– to call someone on the phone
Remember the tips:
Learn through context, break them down by their main verb, answer questions, look up new words in a dictionary or phrasal verb book, write journals, and the most important thing… make them useful to YOU. Because phrasal verbs are a lot like vocabulary, you’ve got to find the best way for you to memorize. I always recommend making them personal, because then they are much easier to remember and use.
Don’t forget to answer the questions from the video in the comment section. Don’t remember? Watch again, practice listening comprehension, and write what you heard (then of course, answer) 🙂
Happy Studying! ♥
Like what you read? Please subscribe to the blog for more updates, and remember: knowledge is power and sharing is caring! Share the article with a friend to spread the love of English.
English fluency is the ability to speak English easily and smoothly, and part of this is being able to move through a conversation, redirect something when needed, give more details, or organize what wants to be said. Expressions are helpful in doing this, but these expressions aren’t always found in the dictionary. Luckily, you’re in the right place…at the right time.
The following expressions will help you change the topic or subject of a conversation, or elaborate (give more details) to something already being talked about.
Happy Studying! ♥
Please let me know if you’d like an example of any of the expressions used above.
I just got too excited writing this post, that I had to share some of it now. Hey, it is already Sunday in some parts of the world, right?
Tomorrow is the 2nd edition of my Sunday’s Suggestion post, and this week’s tip will be on different ways to improve your speaking fluency, especially when you are not in an English speaking country. This will be for all the English lovers out there who aren’t able to study abroad, or maybe have already returned home. Another great thing about this post is that it’s not only useful for English learners. You can change ‘English’ to any language and tweak some of the suggested links/resources to improve any language at home!
This sneak peek (early partial release) features my first tip on building your English fluency. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the full list of 10 tips.
1. Completely surround yourself with English, as best you can. Forget the idea that you can learn a language from 1-2 hours of reading a book, some nights a week. Is it possible? Yes. Is it realistic? NO. Getting yourself used to the language is a must for fluency. How can you surround yourself? Easy, here are some ways:
- Turn on the news in English, there are plenty of online resources. (BBC, CNN, ABC)
- Read English newspapers or magazines. Again, online has so many options.
- Play English speaking music in the background of your home or in your car. Some of my favorites: The Beatles, Band of Horses, The Lumineers, Haim. Some great connections to music are: Spotify, Pandora (in the U.S.), & some countries have access to Last.fm
- Read English lyrics while listening to your favorite songs. If you’re not sure of English music, check out The Billboard Hot 100 list
- Translate your favorite native language songs into English!
- English podcasts (RadioLab, This&Th@)
- Expand your TV and movie choices to more that include English (USE SUBTITLES!). Think: Netflix
- Watch fun YouTube videos, or from another video source. (Vsauce is a very interesting channel)
- Go on English blogs (hey, you’re doing something now!) It’s as simple as Googling : ________ (interest) blog. For example: rock music blog.
- Explore the English (or foreign language) section at your local library.
- Join English clubs or groups, whether locally or virtually to practice both speaking and writing. Check out local newspapers or magazines, or online: MeetUp, EnglishClub Chats, or iTalki
- Use social media to connect with English speakers across the world. You can find me by clicking the following links, and connect with some of my other followers, too! (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) Don’t forget to status update, tweet, and comment in English!
- Do hobbies you like in English. Cook using an English recipe, write (stories, poetry, etc) in English, craft or build something with English instructions.
- Going to the store? Got things to do? Practice writing all your lists in English!
- English audio while you sleep!