You probably use phrasal verbs all the time — in fact, anyone who speaks English uses them. In the question, “Who is looking after the entertainment?” the words “looking after” has a meaning separate from the meaning of the verb “to look”. You aren’t asking for the identity of the person who is looking at the entertainment. You want to know who’s responsible for the entertainment. The verb “look” needs the prepositional phrase “after” to complete the meaning of the question in its colloquial sense.
Check Udemy’s blog post on the eight parts of speech in English if you need a refresher on the meaning of verbs, prepositions and prepositional phrases. Or, if you just want to get started with the basics, be sure to check out Udemy’s The Elements of Grammar course.
What Kinds of Phrasal Verbs are There?
There are three kinds of phrasal verbs:
The Prepositional phrasal verb, examples being “look after” (as in “care”) or “ran into” (as in “encountered”). The modifying word following the verb is a preposition that introduces a phrase. In the sentence, “He takes after his grandfather,” “after” is the preposition to “after his grandfather”.
The Particle phrasal verb, examples being “hang out” (as in “relax”) and “think over” (as in “consider”). The modifying word following the verb is a particle, and is not a preposition. In the sentence, “They shouldn’t give in to her threats,” “in” is the particle.
The Particle-prepositional phrasal verb, examples being “sitting in for” (as in “replacing”) and “put up with” (as in “tolerate”). One word is a particle and the other a preposition. In the sentence, “My mother is really teed off with me,” “off” is the particle and “with” is the preposition to “with me”.
In each instance, you can see how two or three words, taken together, create a meaning that is separate from the meanings of each individual word. If you aren’t sure how to properly use particles and propositions, Udemy has a great course on Intermediate English to enhance your understanding.
Phrasal Verb Exercises For Writing And Speaking In English
Now that you know a bit more about phrasal verbs, try the following exercises. Read each example out loud, and see if you can fill in the blank to complete it. Chances are, you’ll know them all. Ask a friend if you aren’t sure. Once that’s done, consider what the phrasal verb really means. For instance, in the sentence “Please calm down!” the phrase “calm down” means “relax yourself after being so upset.” As you take the test, see if you can identify the prepositional phrasal verbs, particle phrasal verbs and particle-prepositional phrasal verbs. To improve your spoken use of English colloquialisms, Udemy’s course on the 8 Secrets to English Success is a great choice.
1. We had some problems when we checked _____ with the concierge last night.
2. Did you just turn ______ my fairy godmother?
3. It’s raining outside. Don’t forget to put your boots ______.
4. We can’t stop looking ______ my dog! He’s bound to turn up soon, isn’t he?
5. If you don’t understand the tax code, look it ______ online.
6. When will your friend turn ______ with the Chinese food? I’m starving!
7. Can you turn ______ the radio? I can’t hear the interview from back here.
8. Here’s a pencil. Check ______ your name the attendance sheet.
9. Mary Sullivan’s funeral was last week. I’m so sorry she passed _______ so soon.
10. It’s so long since I’ve seen you. When are we going to get _______ for a few drinks?
11. I am really looking _______ to seeing the sunset from your sailboat.
12. Your husband always dresses _______. Does he have a problem with appearing successful?
13. The class is almost over. Don’t you have an overdue assignment to hand _______?
14. Rebecca passes ______ a Chinese expert, but she barely knows the language.
15. She’s obviously sweet on you. Aren’t you going to ask her _______?
Brush up on your phrasal verbs for total English proficiency
It’s helpful to understand phrasal verbs and to know when to use them. If you are a writer, knowing how to use them is essential, especially if you are including colloquial expressions for a touch of realism. Udemy offers a great course in Writing With Flare that will increase your writing confidence. If you want to speak English like a local, the Udemy course Learn to Speak Fluent English is highly recommended as well.