Types of Phrasal verbs

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This post is in continuation to the first one with the title ‘Phrasal verbs at workplace’. In the first post, we read what phrasal verbs are, why we should learn them and some of the most commonly used phrasal verbs at workplaces. In this post, we will learn about the types of Phrasal Verbs. Knowing the types and understanding the position of the verbs and particles will refine your English speaking. This will also boost your English conversations.

There are four types of phrasal verbs:

Transitive phrasal verbs – These need an object after them. Without an object, the sentence does not make sense. For example: I have called off the training. Here called off is the phrasal verb, and the training is the object. Without the object, the sentence would be, I have called off. This will not make sense. To call off means to cancel. A few more examples of the same are:

  • Please switch on the projector
    To switch on means to make machinery start by pressing a switch.
  • Dennis turned down his project proposal.
    To turn down means to reject.

Intransitive phrasal verbs – These don’t need an object after them. The sentence makes complete sense even without an object. For example: Chaithra’s grandfather has passed away. Here, passed away is the phrasal verb which means died. Another example of the same is:

  • The elevator has broken down.
    Broken down is used to convey that something is not working anymore.

Separable phrasal verbs – For these phrasal verbs, the verb and the particle can be separated. They convey the same meaning, separated or not. For example:

  • Please turn on the light. OR Please turn the light on.
    To turn on means the same as to switch on. 
  • I will pick up the files from Era. OR I will pick the files up from Era.
    To pick up means to collect.

Inseparable phrasal verbs – For these phrasal verbs, the verb and the particle cannot be separated. All intransitive phrasal verbs are inseparable. For example:

  • Fatima looks after Training and Development.
    To look after means to take care of something.
  • They carried on their work.
    To carry on means to continue.

How to find out which phrasal verb falls in which category?

Sadly, there’s no rule which governs the type of phrasal verbs. To understand the type that a phrasal verb has, the best way is just to study each phrasal verb in context with lots of examples. You can also look at phrasal verbs at dictionary.cambridge.org

Type a word in the search bar, and scroll down, you will see ‘phrasal verbs’ in the middle.

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