ESL Term:

Phrasal Verbs

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


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phrasal verbs: Verbs that are used in common with other parts of speech, usually prepositions, and take on meanings of their own when combined with these other parts of speech. Phrasal verbs are very useful and plentiful, and hence provide endless teaching materials for ESL teachers. Some examples include:

                                to go out = to date

                                to bring up = to raise

                                to take after = to act like

                                to find out = to learn, to discover

                                to put off = to postpone

To see the difference that simple preposition can make in meaning:

                               take up = do a hobby

                               take off = undress

                               take in = adopt

                               take away = revoke

                               take over = conquer

The importance of phrasal verbs to ESL teaching and learning cannot be overstated.  Although phrasal verbs are written as a combination of  two or more words, they act as if they were one word. Phrasal verbs can be inseparable, separable, transitive, and intransitive. For a very excellent table of phrasal verbs listed by type see the Capital Community College site.