Phrasal Verb

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Burn out
Do away with
Fall out
Fall behind
Get up
Get rid of
Hang out
Hang up
Hit on
Hold back
Hold up
Keep away
Keep back
Put aside
Put down
Put up with
Stand aside
Stand by
Stand up
Stand up to
Take away
Turn into
Yammer on

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