Phrasal Verb

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or two particles. The particles can be either prepositions or adverbs or both. A phrasal verb has a meaning which is different from the meaning of its original verb.

A phrasal verb consists of a verb and words such as ‘up, on, in, over, out, with, off, down, about, away, after’. A Phrasal verb consists of either two words or three words.

e.g. bring up, give up, look after, put off, turn down, pass away, set off, call off, break into, get up, deal in, step down, sort out, hold on, bring about, looking forward to, look down upon, put up with.


Phrasal verb has a meaning that is different to its original verb.  Meaning of each phrasal verb is given in front of each sentence.

She was brought up by her aunt.                               (bring up: to raise a child)
The patient passed away.                                               (pass away: to die)
He is trying to give up smoking.                                  (give up: to quit)
They discussed to sort out the problem.                (sort out: to resolve)
She looks after her child.                                                (look after: to take care)
She turned down his proposal.                                     (turn down: to reject)
They sat off for Paris.                                                        (set off: to start journey)
The game was called off due to bad weather.        (call off: to cancel)
He gets up early in the morning.                                   (get up: to rise from bed)
What brought about change in your attitude?      (bring about: to cause)
Never look down upon poor people.                            (look down upon: to consider inferior)
We will not put up with his annoying behavior.   (put up with: to accept unpleasant things)
I am looking forward to the weekend.                       (look forward to: to wait with pleasure)
The servant carried out the orders of his owner. (carry out: to accept to fulfill)

There are also some phrasal verbs whose meanings may be closer to the literal meaning of its individual words. e.g. switch on, care for, call back, stay away, pick up, clean up, sit down, throw away.

  Phrasal verbs have following types:

  1. Transitive and Intransitive phrasal verb
  2. Separable and non-separable phrasal verb

A transitive phrasal verb requires an object in the sentence. Without an abject, a sentence having phrasal verb cannot make a complete sense.

She looks after the child.
Please switch on the light.
They will sort out the problem.
He threw away the ball.

An intransitive phrasal verb does not require an object in the sentence. It can make a complete sense without having an object for it in the sentence.

The patient passed away.
When do you get up?
The children are growing up.
The thief ran away.

A separable phrasal verb is phrasal verb whose words (verbs and preposition) can be separated to be used in different places in sentence. They can be used as a joined-phrase as well as in separated form.

Turn on the light.
Turn the light on.
I will pick up you from the bus-stop.
I will pick you up from the bus-stop.
You should write down the number on the paper.
You should write the number down on the paper.

A non-separable phrasal verb is phrasal verb whose words (verbs and preposition) cannot be separated to be used in different places in sentence. They always remain together.

She looks after her children.
The patient passed away.
The thief ran away.
He is trying to give up smoking.

Note. All intransitive phrasal phrases are inseparable. But some transitive phrasal phrases are separable and some of them are inseparable.