Multi-word verbs - a challenge!
Hello again Marcos!
Thank you for your interesting comments on the current financial crisis. I agree about the importance of interconnectivity, mentioned by you and some of the readers of your post.
You asked for help with phrasal verbs and indirect/direct speech. I’ll focus on phrasal verbs in this post and come back to indirect/direct speech later. I hope that’s OK with you!
Phrasal verbs are one of three types of multi-word verbs*. All three types of multi-word verb consist of a lexical verb* plus one or two particles*. Sometimes it’s possible to guess the meaning of a multi-word verb; sit down for example. Some multi-word verbs have meanings which are impossible to guess; look after (take care of) for example. Other multi-word verbs have more than one meaning, depending on the context; get back meaning return (she got back from York yesterday) and also meaning regain/re-possess (I can’t live without you, what do I need to do to get you back?) etc.*
Another thing to think about when using multi-word verbs is whether an object is possible, or necessary. For example, get back, meaning return, does not take an object*, whereas get back, meaning regain does*. Finally, if the multi-word verb can take an object, you need to think about whether the particle can be separated from the lexical verb. In the case of get back, meaning regain, the object comes before the particle: get you back, NOT get back you.
This is (another!) complex area of grammar* and rather than trying to learn rules, I think it’s more effective to notice, and try using, sentences or short phrases containing multi-word verbs that you like. So……here is a challenge for you…..! Study the examples of multi-word verbs on the BBC LE Funky Phrasals – Careers page and use as many as possible to tell us something about your job. Or, if you prefer, choose another topic within Funky Phrasals and use the multi-words there.
I enjoyed your information about the orthographic reform of Portuguese. I think it’s a good idea to look at the most common mistakes children make when they are learning to spell and consider changing the spelling of those words! I disagree with your statement about your authority over English though! English belongs to its users, of which you are one. So feel free to reform it to suit yourself (and the people you use it to communicate with)!
Thanks to all the people who made comments on Clara’s audio* (Ana Paula, Deepak, James and Hyoshil); we looked at them together with great interest. It’s fascinating for me to read your examples of how young people use (or don’t use) informal language (including slang) and occasional English words (especially in the blogosphere). Daria mentions the ‘edge’ between innovation and mistake, and I think that’s a good choice of word. We can see in Hyoshil’s story about her discussions (arguments?!) with her son that this ‘edge’ is often quite a sharp one!
There isn’t a single ‘original’ or ‘best’ version of English. This is because everyone reading this blog uses English to communicate messages and make friends in ways that are suitable in a particular situation, at a particular time. As the situations and the people we meet change, so does the ‘best’, most suitable, way to communicate. For Daria, the ‘best’ way to communicate in English could be to include some words in Russian....
Marcos, I look forward to seeing how you get on with your multi-word verb challenge and to hearing more from the readers!
* multi-word verbs = there are three classes of multi-word verbs: phrasal verbs (lexical verb + particle e.g. sort out meaning solve); prepositional verbs (lexical verb + preposition e.g. check into meaning register at a hotel); and phrasal-prepositional verbs (lexical verb + adverb particle + preposition e.g. put up with meaning tolerate). Sometimes the term ‘phrasal verb’ is used to cover all three classes of multi-word verb.
* lexical = verbs that mean something in themselves and are not just being used to help with grammar. Modal and auxiliary verbs are not treated as lexical verbs because they are concerned with grammatical meaning, not content meaning.
* particle = a small group of words including mainly adverbs and prepositions.
* see this page on dictionary.com for more meanings of get back and other multi-word verbs using get.
* if a verb does not need an object, or any other item to complete its meaning, it is known as an intransitive verb (e.g. appear, begin, die). If a verb does need one, or more, objects, it is a transitive verb (e.g. ask, bring, carry). This information is usually available in your dictionary.
* Last time I was the teacher blogger, some very diligent readers of my blog commented on mistakes or over-generalisations in the information I gave. If you notice anything like this, please feel free to comment!!! I will apologise and make corrections!
* I have now (finally) understood how to use my video camera. So will be looking for (willing) victims for my BBC LE videos!
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