English Grammar : article, syntax, verbs conjugation, English spelling

Phrasal verbs

A phrasal verb is a phrase consisting of a verb followed by one or more prepositions which all together are treated as a single verb. Phrasal verbs are the result of the Germanic influences on English, and are sometimes called Anglo Saxon verbs. An Anglo Saxon phrasal verb often has the same meaning as a single Latin verb:

Phrasal verb Latin verb
“drop out of” “quit”
“look into” “investigate”
“put out” “extinguish”

“John dropped out of college.”
“John quit college.”

“The police looked into the accident.”
“The police investigated the accident.”

“The fireman put out the fire.”
“The fireman extinguished the fire.”

There are two types of phrasal verbs: inseparable and separable. Inseparable phrasal verbs always behave as a single word:

“I came across an interesting article in the paper.”
“I ran into Bill last night at the party.”

In separable phrasal verbs, however, the preposition can be separated from the verb when the verb has a direct object:

“I didn't hand in my homework.”
“I didn't hand my homework in.”

“Bill threw away the newspaper.”
“Bill threw the newspaper away.”

Separable phrasal verbs are always separated when the object is a pronoun:

“I handed it in.”
“Bill threw it away.”

And some phrasal verbs must be separated when there is a direct object:

“I couldn't get through because of the storm.”
“I couldn't get the message through because of the storm.”