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Break up, break down, get up, make out... There are lots of multi-word verbs in English, and they can be confusing. But don't give up! We're here to help.

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Phrasals

To separate or not to separate? Finn and Catherine look into phrasal and prepositional verbs in 6 Minute Grammar. Listen to the examples and see if you can pick up the rules.

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Finn
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar. I'm Finn…

Catherine
And I'm Catherine. And today we're talking about phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs.

Finn
Yes, we'll explain what they are and how you use them...

Catherine
We'll have lots of examples and of course we'll finish with a quiz.

Finn
But first, let's listen to Mary. She's a lifestyle coach and she has some advice for us about friends and friendship.

Catherine
And listen out for the answer to this question: What do psychologists say that it is important to do?

INSERT
Mary
How often do you and your friends get together? In our busy lives today, it's easy to let our friends down by putting off social arrangements or even forgetting to ring them up. Yet our friends are the people who stand by us when we need support. So while it's great to keep up with people on social media, psychologists point out that it's really important to make time to meet up together too.

Finn
So that was Mary. And we asked: What do psychologists say that it is important to do?

Catherine
And the answer is: They say it's important for us and our friends to meet up. And I think they mean face to face. What do you think, Finn?

Finn
They do. Face-to-face meeting up is the best thing, they say. And there's our first phrasal verb - meet up.

Catherine
Yes, meet up. Now, a phrasal verb is a two-word verb made of a verb plus a little word like in, on, out, or up. We usually think of in, on, out, and up as prepositions, but in phrasal verbs they behave more like adverbs.

Finn
They do. In the phrasal verb meet up, the adverb up modifies the meaning of the verb meet. Meet and meet up are very similar in meaning. But the adverb sometimes does more than that. Listen to this clip.

INSERT
Mary
...psychologists point out that it's really important to make time to meet up together too.

Finn
Right, we heard the phrasal verb point out there, but it doesn't mean the same as the verb point. Point out means to say something interesting, or unusual or useful. And the adverb changes the meaning significantly.

Catherine
It does. Now listen out for more phrasal verbs in this clip.

INSERT
Mary  
In our busy lives today, it's easy to let our friends down by putting off social arrangements or even forgetting to ring them up.

Finn
Now if we let our friends down, it means that we don't help or support them. And when we put off arrangements, we cancel or delay them. And if we ring people up, we phone them.

Catherine
And those are interesting phrasal verbs because when they have an object, we can put the object either between the verb and the adverb, or we can put it after the adverb.

Finn
Like this: we can let our friends down or we can let down our friends.

Catherine
You wouldn't let your friends down.

Finn
I'd never let my friends down, Catherine. Or my colleagues.

Catherine
And we can put off arrangements or put arrangements off.

Finn
We can. But be careful. If the object is a pronoun, you have to put it in the middle. For example, you have to say ring them up.

Catherine
Yeah. Don't say ring up them.

Finn
No, don't say that. Now, one more clip. Can you spot any more phrasal verbs?

INSERT
Mary
Yet our friends are the people who stand by us when we need support.

Catherine
Well, we just heard stand by us. And you are probably wondering why the pronoun is at the end of the verb because we just said that you can't put pronouns at the end. But stand by is a slightly different type of verb, because by isn't an adverb. It's a preposition.

Finn
That's right. In some two-word verbs, the second word such as by, with, into, or on behaves like a preposition, not an adverb. And in these verbs, the object or object pronoun always comes after the preposition.

Catherine
OK. So Mary said that it's great to keep up with people on social media. And keep up with means keep in contact with, and it's a phrasal verb made of three parts: a verb: keep, plus an adverb: up, plus a preposition: with.

Finn
That's right. And with phrasal verbs with three parts, the object always comes at the end. We keep up with people.

IDENT          
6 Minute Grammar from the BBC.

Catherine
And it's time for a quiz! Number one. Is this sentence correct or wrong? She took her coat off, hung it up and sat down.

Finn
That's correct. Number two: correct or wrong? We keep with each other up by phone and email.

Catherine
And that one is wrong...

Finn
I know.

Catherine
...sounds horrible! The correct sentence is: We keep up with each other by phone and email. So, number three: I turned down the job because it was too far away. Now the question is: can you also say a) I turned down it. Or b) I turned it down?

Finn
Well, this time you can say b) I turned it down.

Catherine
You can. And very good if you got those right at home.  

Finn
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. So join us again soon for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both
Bye!

Download

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End of Session 2

That's the end of this session. We hope you enjoyed learning about phrasals. You can practise your speaking skills in Session 3 when Finn explores some useful language for pointing out problems. See you there!

이번 세션 문법

  • Form of multi-word verbs

    No object

    Are you going away on holiday this year?

    Noun object

    I can’t wait to look around Athens.

    Object pronoun after the verb

    I’m so looking forward to it!

    Object pronoun in the middle

    Is someone picking you up at the airport?

     

    Phrasal verbs with direct objects

    The noun object can usually go before or after the adverb.

    I broke off our engagement.

    OR

    I broke our engagement off.

    But if we use a direct object pronoun, remember it can only go between the verb and the adverb.

    WRONG: I broke off it.
    RIGHT: I broke it off.