Phrasal Verbs in English Grammar

Introduction

Phrasal verbs are a combination of a verb and a preposition, adverb or both. These combinations often have a completely different meaning from the original verb. On this page, you will find a list of common phrasal verbs in the English language and tips on word order with phrasal verbs.

Learn about phrasal verbs in English grammar with Lingolia. In the exercises, you can practise what you have learnt.

Example

Norman is going through hard times at the moment. His girlfriend broke up with him last week. He always thought they got on well. But now he has to get by without her.

Well, somehow he has to put up with the situation. Life goes on.

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Usage

Phrasal verbs have to be learned like any other vocabulary. Unfortunately, there are no rules that determine which particle gives a verb its particular meaning. You just have to rely on your dictionary and your memory.

Example:
go through – undergo/suffer/experience
Norman is going through hard times at the moment.
get by without someone – survive without/manage without someone
He has to get by without her.

Many phrasal verbs also have a regular verb with the same meaning. However, these regular verbs often sound quite formal and are usually used in formal written communication.

Example:
His girlfriend broke up with him last week.
His girlfriend ended their relationship last week.
He always thought they got on well.
He always thought they were on good terms.
Well, somehow he has to put up with the situation.
Well, somehow he has to accept the situation.
Life goes on.
Life continues.

Examples

Click on one of the verbs below for a list of commonl phrasal verbs based on that verb along with with their meanings.

break, bring, call, carry, come, do, fall, get, go, keep, look, make, put, run, set, take, turn

Word order with phrasal verbs

Some phrasal verbs can be separated by an object and some can’t. Inseparable phrasal verbs cannot be separated which means the particle must come directly after the verb.

Example:
He fell for his girlfriend. (not: He fell his girlfriend for.)
He fell for her. (not: He fell her for.)

Many phrasal verbs are separable which means that the object can come between the verb and the particle or after the particle. However, when the object is pronoun, it comes between the verb and the particle.

Example:
She threw his love letters away./She threw away his love letters.
She threw them away. (not: She threw away them.)

Unfortunately there aren’t rules for determining whether a phrasal verb can be separated or not. Each phrasal verb must be learnt individually or looked up.