Chapter 1-10: What are Phrasal Verbs?

Grammar > Parts of Speech > Phrasal Verbs


"Multi-word verbs are verbs that consist of a verb and one or two particles or prepositions (e.g. up, over, in, down). There are three types of multi-word verbs: phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. Sometimes, the name ‘phrasal verb’ is used to refer to all three types" (Cambridge Dictionaries).

The online dictionary at defines phrasal verbs as “a combination of verb and one or more adverbial or prepositional particles such as: catch on, take off, bring up, or put up with; functioning as a single semantic unit and often having an idiomatic meaning that could not be predicted from the meanings of the individual parts.” These particles serve to change meaning from just the base verb.

Put simply, a phrasal verb is a verb that is followed by something. This combination of words has a specific meaning that is understood by people in a community. For instance, there is a big difference between "banking at" a certain financial institution and "banking on" a certain financial institution. So, what is this something that follows the verb? Here’s a list of possibilities:

Example Phrasal Verbs

Often, phrasal verbs are used in informal English, so they are not well-suited to academic texts. These informal phrases often vary from one geographic region (or dialect) to another; for example, North Americans might say that they are going “to call” someone, but British people will say that they are going “to ring” someone. They are, therefore, idioms (expressions) used by people.

It would take up too much space (and perhaps might even require an entire book) to list all of the possible phrasal verbs that exist in English. Here is a short list of examples:


External Resources

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Attribution information for this page: written by Jamie Bridge PageID: eslid62099 Page keywords: collocations