A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition or adverb that when written together create a different meaning than the original verb. For example,
- You need to settle down while watching the movie. Settle+down=relax, be at ease.
- Will you just shut up? Shut+up=to be quiet.
Phrasal verbs are just like regular verbs in that they can be both transitive and intransitive. Transitive phrasal verbs will take objects while intransitive phrasal verbs will not. For example,
- I am considering taking up pottery. (The phrasal verb “taking up” takes the object “pottery.”)
- When are you showing up? (Intransitive verbs do not take objects.)
Phrasal verbs are never hyphenated even though sometimes their equivalent noun or phrasal adjective might be. For example,
- You and your father need to make up with each other.
– but –
- The intervention served as a make-up session between our family.
There are two main rules that apply to phrasal verbs:
- Use phrasal verbs only when the entire phrase’s meaning is distinctly different from the component words. If you can communicate the same meaning with a stand-alone verb, use it. For example,
- Correct: I would not rule out the possibility of a presidential run (in this case, rule out means to eliminate).
- Incorrect: I need to rest up tonight, so I won’t be attending the party (in this case, rest up does not have a clear meaning different than just saying to rest).
- Correct: I need to rest tonight, so I won’t be attending the party.
- Don’t combine phrasal verbs into one-word verbs, especially when they have a corresponding one-word noun. For example,
- Someone will make up after a fight but applies makeup in the morning.
There are many different phrasal verbs, but here is just a short list of phrasal verbs.
Do away with
Get rid of
Put up with
Stand up to