Phrasal verbs are almost always the achilles heel of English language learners. They can be confusing to learn as they are all very similar looking, they are difficult to translate and they take a lot of time and practice to understand. Many of the prepositions included in phrasal verbs, such as UP, DOWN and ON have very literal meanings, but these meanings can change as they also have a figurative meaning. For example, Out can literally mean one thing, but figuratively it means “to end”. What students of English need to be aware of is that phrasal verbs are not literal, their meaning depends on context. Look after does not mean mirar después for example, it means cuidar. Find out is not encontrar fuera it means averiguar.
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The most usual method to introduce phrasal verbs into speech or writing is through substitution. You take a word, LIKE for example and put it into a sentence, “I like reading books about dinosaurs”. Then you take the term LIKE and replace it with the phrasal verb that you want to use, “I AM INTO reading books about dinosaurs”. This way the student begins to incorporate simple phrasal verbs into their language use. A great way to practice this skill is by learning how to match phrasal verbs with their synonyms. Find out = discover information, look after = take care of. Language learners must practice exercises such as matching phrasal verbs with their synonyms, antonyms and similar expressions.
TO LEARN PHRASAL VERBS WELL YOU SHOULD
UNDERSTAND THE PREPOSITION + LEARN SOME SIMPLE COLLOCATIONS + USE LOTS OF EXAMPLES
The next steps to progress are by making sure that students use phrasal verbs consistently, what they need to do is make sure that they use them in context and assimilate them. They must use them often to consolidate their meaning. What students must be careful of is that they do not change the context too much or the meaning could change. For example GET BY can mean, survive with the minimum amount of money necessary or know how to use a little bit of a language. The second thing to do is to understand the GRAMMAR. Know how to conjugate the verb well and also IF YOU CAN SEPARATE THEM. Normally we can separate a phrasal verbs if there is an object (Turn the light on), we have a choice if it is a long object, but if it is an object pronoun we almost always need to separate (turn it on). There are some phrasal verbs that we never separate (look after them). If there is no object we do not separate them (go back).
IF YOU WANT TO FURTHER UNDERSTAND PHRASAL VERBS, YOU SHOULD SEE OUR POST ON PREPOSITIONS (HERE) FOR EXTRA INFORMATION.
Types of phrasal verbs
Separable phrasal verbs can be tricky because sometimes you can split them in two and others you cannot. In English we have separable and inseparable phrasal verbs.
Separable phrasal verbs
Separable phrasal verbs can have an object in between the verb and the preposition = I took her away on holiday.
If the object is in the form of an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, they) then we normally have to divide the phrasal verb. E.g. I picked him up from the store. But if the object is in its full from, you usually have the choice. I put on the jacket, or I put the jacket on.
Inseparable phrasal verbs
Inseparable phrasal verbs have an object after ONLY = I usually look after my daughter on Saturday evening so her mum can go out for a drink
Intransitive phrasal verbs
These types of phrasal verb do not require an object. For example, I am going out or I can get by.
3 word phrasal verbs
These phrasal verbs are almost always inseparable. For example, I am looking forward to the party. I need to cut down on my sugar intake.
TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING YOUR ENGLISH VOCABULARY, TAKE A LOOK AT THESE POSTS VOCABULARY TRICKS, VOCABULARY ACQUISITION AND VOCABULARY BUILDING. THE KEY YO LEARNING VOCABULARY IS TO FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU (USING IMAGES, MNEMONICS, MIND MAPS) AND TO INCORPORATE THIS ACTIVITY INTO YOUR LANGUAGE LEARNING ROUTINE.
FOR THE FREE EBOOK on PHRASAL VERBS – EBOOK PHRASAL VERBS