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Do you find phrasal verbs difficult to learn and to use correctly? Hopefully, Dan can help you with these three top tips!

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English Class

Don't fear the phrasals: three important tips

Phrasal verbs can be really confusing. But you've come to the right place, because our presenter Dan has three useful and important points to remember! And because time is important too, he's going to attempt to do this in 90 seconds.

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Dan
Hi guys! Dan for BBC Learning English here. This time we’re going to take a look at a very tricky area that many students find difficult: it's phrasal verbs. But you don't need to worry, we're going to do the whole thing in 90 seconds, and everything's going to be OK! Are you ready to kick off? Here we go.

So, phrasal verbs are a verb which is followed by a preposition. Prepositions are words like on, about or around. There can be one or two prepositions. But what's difficult to understand about phrasal verbs is that the meaning of the phrasal verb when combined can be different from the meanings of the individual words. For example: turn up. I turned up, means, I arrived.

Now, when studying phrasal verbs it’s very important to remember three things.

First of all: transitive or intransitive?

An intransitive verb is one which does not require a direct object. Phrasal verbs can be intransitive, for example: I got up at 6. He really stands out. My car broke down. No problem.

Number 2: the object.

If a verb is transitive, it requires a direct object and many phrasal verbs are also transitive. But, some phrasal verbs are also separable. This means you can separate the verb and the preposition and put the object in between. Consider the following:

Please switch the TV off.

Please switch off the TV.

Both of these are correct. But, if we use the object which is a pronoun, for example 'it', then it must occupy the middle position.

Please switch it off.

Finally, context is so important when it comes to phrasal verbs. The same phrasal verbs in different contexts may have different meanings. For example... BEEP... Excuse me.

For example:

The plane took off.

I’m really tired. I need to take some time off. That means have a holiday.

I need to take off. It's time. I've got to go.

And finally, Shall I take off my shirt?

Alright? Did you get it? Good. Now, for more information guys, you can log on to our website at bbclearningenglish.com for a full transcript, extra exercises and a full explanation of everything I've just said. I've been Dan, you've been great. I'm actually going to take off this time.

Summary

Phrasal verbs, or as they're sometimes known, multi-word verbs, are very common in English. They're formed of a main verb and a preposition, or sometimes a main verb and two prepositions. To help you learn them, Dan offered these three points to consider:

1. Transitive or intransitive?

Transitive = takes an object
I (subject) broke up with him (object).

Intransitive = doesn't take an object
My car (subject) broke down (no object).

Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

2. Separable?

If it takes an object, can the object go between the verb and preposition, or not?

These are both OK:
Can you switch the TV off?
Can you switch off the TV?

If the object is a pronoun, it must go between the verb and preposition:
Can you switch it off?

But this is not OK – break up with is inseparable:
I broke him up with.

3. Context

Phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning, so pay attention to the context:
To take off (remove) your shirt.
The plane took off (flew into the sky).
I need to take off (leave) or I will miss my train.
I’m tired. I need to take time off (take a holiday).

To do

We hope you found those points useful. Now test yourself with this quiz!

Top tips test!

3 Questions

How well do you remember what Dan said? Try these questions...

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End of session

Well done. That's the end of this session!

Next

The language of currrent affairs is up next in News Review.

Сеанс работы над грамматикой

  • Phrasal verbs: Three things to remember

    1. Transitive or intransitive?

    Transitive = takes an object

    I (subject) broke up with him (object).

    Intransitive = doesn't take an object

    My car (subject) broke down (no object).

    Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

    2. Separable?

    If it takes an object, can the object go between the verb and preposition, or not?

    These are both OK:

    Can you switch the TV off?

    Can you switch off the TV?

    If the object is a pronoun, it must go between the verb and preposition:

    Can you switch it off?

    But this is not OK – break up with is inseparable:

    I broke him up with.

    3. Context

    Phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning, so pay attention to the context:

    To take off (remove) your shirt

    The plane took off (flew into the sky)

    I need to take off (leave) or I will miss my train

    I’m tired. I need to take time off (take a holiday)