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English Grammar

Phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs

A phrasal verb is made up of two parts: a base verb followed by an adverb particle.

Examples are: ask out, bring about, bring up, call back, call in, call off, figure out, fill out, find out, pass out, pick out, pick up, point out, put away, put back, put off, put on, put out, take off, take out, take over, take up, tear down, tear up, think over, throw away, throw out, try on, turn down, turn in, turn off, turn on, turn out and turn up

Sometimes the particle in a phrasal verb is detached from the verb and put after the object.

  • John put his hat on.
  • They called the doctor in.
  • He threw it away.
  • You must send them back.
  • His uncle had brought him up.
  • Please turn the lights on.

The particle can be put after the object only when this object is a personal pronoun it, me, us, them etc. or when it is comparatively short.

When the object is long or has to be made prominent, the particle comes before the object.

  • The President gave away the prizes.
  • He put on an air of innocence.
  • The poor widow had to bring up all the three children.
  • He brushed aside all the plans I had carefully formulated.
Prepositional verb

A prepositional verb has two parts: a base verb and a preposition. Note that the preposition in a prepositional verb is inseparable. It cannot be put after the object.

Examples are: insist on, care for, fall off and call on, check in, come across, drop by, drop in (on), drop out, get along (with), get into, get off, get on, get out of, get over, get through, get up, go over, grow up, keep up (with), kick out (of), look after, look into, look out, pass away, put up with, show up and take after

  • They called on the teacher. (BUT NOT They called the teacher on.)
  • He fell off the bridge. (BUT NOT He fell the bridge off.)
  • I find it difficult to get along with her.
  • How do you put up with him?
  • They got into the car.
Particle and preposition differences

The difference between a particle and preposition is that while the particle is closely tied to the verb, the preposition is closely tied to the noun or pronoun. The following words are used only as particles and never as prepositions away, back, out, forward, backward, upward and downward. Some words can be used both as adverb particles and prepositions. Examples are: on, off, in, up, down, to, from etc.

 

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