Phrasal Verbs

Compare two- and three-word verbal expressions

let on
 

 

Verb + Adverb vs. Two-Word Verb (Phrasal Verb)

VERB + ADVERB

An adverb for place (direction or location) has a literal¹ meaning. That is, it has a its basic (dictionary) meaning. The adverb expresses movement in a direction.

Look up. (up modifies where to look

My dog wandered off. (off modifies where my dog wandered

She put the cat out. (out modifies where she put the cat)

I pushed the cat away(away modifies where I pushed the cat)

We went in(in modifies where we went)

He walked behind(behind modifies where he walked)  

VERB + PARTICLE 

A two-word verb, also known as a phrasal verb, includes a verb and a particle². The two combine to form a meaning, an expression³.

Look up the word in the dictionary. (search in a reference book)

The airplane took off. (departed)

She put the fire out. (extinguish) 

I had my cat put away. (euthanized, killed, "put to sleep")

We gave in. (surrender) 

He fell behind(progressed slowly)

 

¹literal meaning - each word has a particular meaning

²particle (n.) – unlike a preposition, a particle does not have its own meaning; it does not express movement in a direction.

³expression (n.) – one or more words together have a particular meaning

Current linguistic description includes place adverbs and prepositions for place in the same category: Preposition. See Adverbs for Place– Grammar Notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phrasal Verbs

Separable vs. Inseparable

 

 

 

SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERB

A separable phrasal verb CAN be separated by an object. It CANNOT be followed by an object pronoun (if the verb takes an object.)

He took his coat off.
He took off his coat. (removed)

He took it off. /
*He took off it.

He gave money away.
He gave money away. (give as a gift)

He gave it away
He gave away *it

She let my dress out.
She let out my dress.  (enlarged)

She let it out.
She let out *it.

He got his shoes on.
He got on his shoes.  (wore)

He got them on
He got on *them.

He made the check out for $100.
He made out the check for $100.

He made it out for $100.
He made out *it   (wrote)

He took the piano up.
He took up the piano.   (begin to learn)

He took it up.
He took up *it.

I looked the bills over.
I looked over the bills. (review) 

I looked them over.
I looked over *them

Look the word up.
Look up the word.   (search in reference book) 

Look it up.
Look up *it

She put the fire out.
She put out the fire.   (extinguish)

She put it out.
She put out *it.

INSEPARABLE PHRASAL VERB

An inseparable phrasal verb CANNOT be separated by an object. It CAN be followed by an object pronoun (if the verb takes an object.)

The airplane took off (departed)

His heart gave away (stopped working)

School lets out in June.  (finishes)

He got on well with his classmates.  (worked in harmony)

He made out well in life.  (succeeded)

The piano took up most of the living room.  (occupied)

 I looked after the children.   (take care of)
 I looked after them.

He looks up to his big brother.  (admires)
He looks up to him.

 She wouldn't put up with bad behavior.  (tolerate)
 She wouldn't put up with it.

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb + Particle Grid

Does it have a meaning?

 

 

 

Grid #1 DO GET GIVE

ABOUT

AT

AWAY

 

BY

DOWN

IN

OF

OFF

ON

OUT

OVER

UP

WITH

 

Grid #2 GO HAVE LET

ABOUT

AT

AWAY

BY

DOWN

IN

OF

OFF

ON

OUT

OVER

UP

WITH

 

 

 
#3 LOOK MAKE PUT

ABOUT

AT

AWAY

BY

DOWN

IN

OF

OFF

ON

OUT

OVER

UP

WITH

 

 

#4 TAKE THINK TRY

ABOUT

AT

AWAY

BY

DOWN

IN

OF

OFF

ON

OUT

OVER

UP

WITH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phrasal Verbs (Two-Word Verbs)

Meanings and Sentences

 

 

 

Do   Get   Give   Go   Have   Let   Look  Make   Put   Take   Think   Try  

 

Do

DO AWAY WITH

put an end to something

They will do away with tax on home heating fuel.

DO IN ¹

murder

The mafia did him in.

DO IN ¹

injure

This hot weather will do us in.

DO IN ¹

cheat or swindle

The car buyer was done in by the fly-by-night salesman.

DO OVER ¹

redo over repeat

I had to do my homework over because I had too many mistakes.

DO OVER ¹

redecorate

We did our kitchen over to modernize it. (also: made over)

DO UP ¹

make fancy

She did up her hair in a pretty bow.

DO UP ¹

finish

Do up the work before you leave.

DO WITH

benefit from

We could do with less talk and more action.

(MAKE) DO WITH

get by, survive with less

In a bad economy, we make do with less (money, food, etc.)

DO WITHOUT

manage, survive

I could not do without my cell phone.

¹separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Get

GET ABOUT

move, be active

Even though he's ninety, he gets about pretty well.

GET AT

hint, insinuate, imply

I don't know what the lawyer was getting at, but I didn't like it.

GET AT

discover, find

We wanted to get at the root of the problem.

GET AWAY

escape from confinement

The prisoner tried to get away, but the officer caught him.

GET AWAY WITH

do something without detection

He tries to get away with cheating, but they keep catching him.

GET BY

manage, survive

We got by even though we didn't have much money.

GET DOWN¹ 

depress, discourage

The cold, rainy weather got me down after a couple of months.

GET DOWN

enjoy, dance

Let's have a little fun and get down tonight!

GET IN

arrive

When does your plane get in?

GET IN

enter a private vehicle

We got in the car and sat down.  (get on - public vehicle)

GET OFF

exit a public vehicle

We got off the bus at the last stop.

GET OFF¹

escape from punishment

He was charged with public indecency, but the lawyer got him off

GET OFF

boldness, effrontery

Where do you get off telling me I'm fat. Look at yourself.

GET ON

to work or perform in harmony

They got on well together.

GET ON

to mount, to board (public transportation)

He got on his bicycle and rode away. He got on the bus.

GET IT ON¹

to have a romantic or sexual connection

"Let's get it on."  -- Marvin Gaye song

GET ON¹

to wear

He got on his shoes.  See get passive 

GET OVER

recover

It took him a week to get over his cold / his divorce.

GET THROUGH

to succeed in contacting

I had trouble getting through to you because my phone had bad reception.

GET UP

wake up and get out of bed

What time did you get up this morning?

¹separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Give

GIVE AWAY¹

give as a gift

He was feeling so confident, he gave away all his money.

GIVE AWAY¹

reveal a secret

Be careful not to give secret away.

GIVE IN

surrender, acknowledge defeat

At first he said, "no", but then he gave in.

GIVE OF

devote or contribute

To give of one's self is the greatest gift.

GIVE OFF

to put forth, emit

The light bulb gave off an amazing amount of light.

GIVE OUT¹

emit, distribute

They gave out fliers in front of the playhouse.

GIVE OUT

to become exhausted, used up

After running four miles, his legs gave out.

GIVE OVER¹

transfer, release to someone else

He will give over the ownership of his property to his grandchildren.

GIVE UP

to abandon,

She never gave up hope that he would get well.

GIVE UP

discontinue

He gave up smoking.

GIVE (IT) UP¹

applaud; clap  (slang)

Let's give it up for Beyonce!

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Go

GO ABOUT

perform one's duties

Every day, he goes about checking our work.

GO AFTER

pursue

If you really want it, go after it.

GO AGAINST

to conflict with

He never thought his son would go against him.

GO AHEAD

proceed

Go ahead.  We'll catch up with you later.

GO ALONG

agree to follow

Bill went along with his friend's plan even though Bill didn't think it was a good plan.

GO AROUND

accompany

They always go around with the same people.

GO AROUND

be enough for everyone

They brought enough food to go around.

GO AT

attack

They went at each other viciously.

GO BACK

return

He went back home after work.

GO BACK ON

fail to keep to

He went back on his word and started smoking again.

GO BY

to be disregarded, not taken advantage of

He let his best chance go by.

GO DOWN

suffer defeat

They went down fighting.

GO DOWN

be remembered

This will go down in history as an unforgettable moment.

GO FOR

try hard for

Go for the gold! (Olympian expression)

GO IN WITH

join

He went in with them on an investment scheme.

GO OFF

explode

The gun went off and runners began the race.

GO OFF

ring

My phone always goes off when I'm in class.

GO ON

continue

When life is hard, you have to go on.

GO OUT

extinguish

If the lights go out, light some candles.

GO OUT WITH

accompany or date

Amelia goes out with her friends. She is going out with a new guy.

GO OVER

review

After we go over the plans, we can discuss what to do.

GO OVER

to meet approval

Did your proposal go over well?

GO THROUGH

experience

We had to go through hard times during the war.

GO THROUGH WITH

persevere to the end

He decided to go through with the operation to repair his heart.

GO UNDER

fail, ruin

The bank went under due to bad business practices.

GO UP 

be under construction

A new building is going up in place of the old one.

GO UP

be consumed by fire

The old building went up in flames.

GO WITH

look good or fashionable with

His striped shirt didn't go with his jacket.

 

 

 

Have

HAVE AT

attack; to go at (alternate expression)

It's time to have at my homework. 

HAVE ON¹

to wear

What do you have on?

HAVE ON¹

to host a guest on TV

Who does David Letterman have on tonight?

HAVE X OUT

settle

She and I had it out last night and came to an agreement.

HAVE OVER¹

entertain

We had our friends over for dinner.

HAVE X TO DO WITH

be associated with

His lack of confidence had a lot to do with his not getting the job.

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Let

LET DOWN¹

disappoint

He let us down when he didn't do as he said he would.

LET IN¹

to admit

The door man let us in to the nightclub.

LET IN¹

share a secret

I'll let you in on a little secret.  I won the lottery.

LET OFF¹

release by exploding

The fireworks let off a whistling sound.

LET OFF¹ 

to free from duty

They let him off jury duty.

LET OFF¹ 

excuse with little punishment

The judge let the youth off with just a warning and a promise.

LET ON

reveal

Please don't let on that you already know his secret.

LET OUT

terminates, release from confinement

Elementary schools let out at the end of May. 

LET OUT

release from restraint

The dog let out a loud yelp when its owner left.

LET OUT¹

enlarge

I had to let my pants out after the holiday meals.

LET UP ON

ease up ; treat less severely

His mother let up on him after she realized he was trying his hardest.

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Look

LOOK AFTER

take care of; foster

They looked after him when his parents couldn't.

LOOK DOWN ON

regard with scorn or contempt

Those people look down on everyone else as being inferior.

LOOK IN ON

visit briefly

The nurse looked in on each patient several times a day.

LOOK INTO

investigate

The police are looking into the crime.

LOOK ON

to be a spectator

The fans looked on while their team battled to win.

LOOK OUT

to be on guard, to take care

Look out or you might get hurt.

LOOK OUT FOR

to be concerned

We need to look out for our health.

LOOK OUT ONTO

to have a view

Our hotel room looked out onto the town's plaza.

LOOK OVER¹

review

The mechanic looked the car over to see if there were any problems.

LOOK UP¹

research, find in a reference book

Always look up the words that you don't know.

LOOK UP TO

admire, regard highly

She has always looked up to her older sister.

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Make

MAKE AWAY WITH

steal

The dishonest CEO made away with millions of dollars.

MAKE DO WITH

get by, survive with less

In a bad economy, we make do with less (money).

MAKE OFF WITH

steal, take

The bear made off with our picnic basket.

MAKE OUT¹

to write or complete

After you make out the check, put it in the mail.

MAKE OUT¹

be able to distinguish or read

It was hard to make out the words on the old memorial stone.

MAKE OUT

succeed

With a lot of hard work, you too can make out in life.

MAKE OUT

show affection; kiss

They made out in the front seat.

MAKE OVER

redo, redecorate

The film producer decided to make over the actor's appearance

MAKE UP

invent

Did you make that story up? I don't believe it.

MAKE UP

to put on cosmetics

Women make up their faces before going to parties.

MAKE UP

to settle or reconcile

We had been quarreling for two years, but we made last night.

MAKE UP

repeat

I had to make up a course in which I had gotten an unsatisfactory grade.

MAKE UP FOR

compensate

His boss offered him vacation days to make up for his overtime hours.

MAKE UP OF

constitute

The United States is made up of fifty states.

MAKE UP TO

become friendly with

He was trying to make up to every woman in the class. (informal)

¹separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Put

PUT ABOUT

turn in a different direction

The ship put about and headed back to shore.

PUT ABOUT

to start a rumor

The opposition put about a rumor that we had accepted a bribe.

PUT AWAY¹

put in its place

We put away the food after shopping.

PUT AWAY¹

consume

He can put away five hamburgers!

PUT AWAY¹

euthanize

We had to put our dog away when it became too old to survive.

PUT AWAY¹

jail

The murderer was put away for life.

PUT DOWN¹

write

The Red Cross put me down for a one hundred dollar contribution.

PUT DOWN

regard or categorize

He was put down as a complainer

PUT DOWN¹

to insult or criticize

My older sister always put me down when she was with her friends.

PUT DOWN¹

to place a down payment

We put down forty per cent on the house.

PUT DOWN

land and aircraft

The plane put down in a wheat field.

PUT IN

enter a port

The ship put in before sunset.

PUT IN FOR

apply or request

He put in for a transfer to a different division.

PUT OFF¹

delay or postpone

He tends to put off doing his taxes.

PUT OFF

repel, distance, perturb

The artist's use of dead animals put off his viewers.

PUT ON *

to wear

He put on his pants

PUT ON¹

produce or perform

They put on a wonderful play.

PUT OUT¹

extinguish

The firemen put out the fire

PUT OUT¹

be bothersome; inconvenience

Yes, I'd like a cup of coffee, but I don't want to put you out.

PUT UP¹

put items in their places

Please put up your toys.

PUT UP WITH

tolerate

I can't put up with his terrible behavior

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Take

TAKE AFTER

resemble

His daughter takes after him in business sense.

TAKE AFTER

pursue

The dog took after the little boy who tried to run away.

TAKE BACK¹

retract

I take what I said back.I shouldn't have said it.

TAKE DOWN¹

write or record

Take these measurements down.

TAKE DOWN¹

capture, control

They took down their opponents.

TAKE FOR¹

to assume to

I took his word for the truth. / I took for truth his word.

TAKE IN *

provide lodging or a home

His uncle took him in after his father died.

TAKE IN¹

alter, make smaller

She had her dress taken in after she had her baby.

TAKE IN

trick or deceive

The insurance salesman took in the unsuspecting buyer.

TAKE IN

observe and make sense of

We listened to his lecture.  There was a lot to take in.

TAKE OFF¹

remove clothing

Please take off your coat and sit down.

TAKE OFF

depart from earth

The airplane took off on time.

TAKE OFF¹

remove from a job or position

They took me off one project to work on another.

TAKE OFF

humorous imitation (noun)

The movie was a take off on news anchormen.

TAKE ON¹

undertake

The President took on the difficult job of restoring the economy.

TAKE ON¹

hire

They took him on as their financial officer.

TAKE OUT¹

date

He took her out to the movies.

TAKE OVER¹

assume management

The stronger company took over the weaker one.

TAKE UP¹

to begin to study

He took up the piano.

TAKE UP

occupy

The grand piano took up most of the room.

TAKE UP¹

continue

Let's take up where we left off yesterday.

TAKE UP¹

begin discussion or a subject

Today, I will take up the subject of  my salary.

TAKE UP WITH

become friends

He began to take up with the wrong crowd.

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

Think

THINK ABOUT

consider, think for a while

I would like some time to think about your business proposal.

THINK ABOUT

have an opinion or judgment

What do you think about the new no-smoking law?

THINK OF

create, devise, come up with

How did you think of this clever idea?

THINK OF

have an opinion or judgment

What  do you think of your phone?

THINK OF

remember, come to mind

I suddenly thought of his name.

THINK ON

consider, think for a while

I'm not ready to buy it now. I'll have to think on this for a while.

THINK OUT¹

think toward reaching a solution

Think it out before you act.

THINK OVER¹

consider, think for a while

Please think it over carefully before you sign the contract.

THINK THROUGH¹

think toward reaching a solution

If you think through the math problem, you'll find the solution.

THINK UP¹

create, devise come up with

She thought up our logo design.

¹separable – accepts an object

 

 

Try

TRY ON¹

put on clothing to see if you like it

Try the pants on. / Try on the pants.   If you like them, buy them.

TRY OUT¹

experiment with something

We tried out a new method of using the cell phone.

TRY OUT¹

audition, perform before judges

He tried out before the American Idol judges. They held try-outs today.
 

*separable – accepts an object

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Phrasal Verbs (Two-Word Verbs)

 

 

 

Complete the expression.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 1-10" button.

 

1.

2.
make up

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Phrasal Verbs (Two-Word Verbs) 

 

 

Complete the expression.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 11-28" button.
11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.
  He's a genius.

17.

18.

19.
 

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.