Phrasal-Prepositional Verbs


A phrasal verb is a verb that is combined with an adverb or a preposition. The combination creates a new meaning.

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Sometimes, a verb is combined with an adverb AND preposition for a whole new meaning. We call these Phrasal-Prepositional Verbs.

Verb + Adverb + Preposition = Phrasal-Prepositional Verb

Example:
run
+ out + of = run out of (= use everything)

Example sentence:
We will run out of cookies if you continue eating them!

We will run out of cookies if you continue eating them!


Here is another example:

Victor really loves sweets!
But his doctor told him that he needs to eat less.
He eats too much ice cream, and it's bad for him.

His doctor told him to cut down on sweets.

("Cut down on" means to use less of something.)


A man dreaming of ice cream


So as you can see, some verbs can be three words long! They are called phrasal-prepositional verbs. Now let's learn how to use them correctly.

There are some things you need to remember about these special, longer phrasal verbs:

  1. They are always transitive, meaning that they always have an direct object. The action is always done to something or someone else.


  2. They are also always inseparable. The object must always come at the very end of the verb, after the preposition. It cannot go in the middle of the phrasal verb.



See these articles:

How to Study Vocabulary Words

Activities for Teaching Vocabulary: How Can You Teach (or Learn) New Words?


Now look at the common phrasal-prepositional verbs below. The examples show the correct and incorrect way to use them.

Study the examples and write some of your own to help you remember them.


1. Cut down on

As we saw above, this phrasal verb means to reduce how much we use or eat of something.

Examples:
  • Correct: Priscilla has to cut down on hamburgers and other greasy food. It's bad for her cholesterol.

    Incorrect: Priscilla has to cut hamburgers and other greasy food down on. It's bad for her cholesterol.

    Incorrect: Priscilla has to cut down hamburgers and other greasy food on. It's bad for her cholesterol.

    (Remember that we can't separate these phrasal verbs!)

  • Correct: Cecil loves pizza! He could eat the whole thing himself, but he is trying to cut down on junk food because he's been gaining weight.

    Incorrect: Cecil loves pizza! He could eat the whole thing himself, but he is trying to junk food cut down on because he's been gaining weight.

    (Remember that the object must always come directly after the phrasal verb.)
A man happy with his pizza


2. Come up with

This phrasal-prepositional verb means to have an idea or find a solution after thinking for a long time.

Examples:
  • Correct: Kelly came up with a wonderful idea for the school play, and her teacher picked it!

    Incorrect: Kelly came a wonderful idea for the school play up with, and her teacher picked it!

  • Correct: Einstein thought and studied a lot, and he came up with a brilliant equation to represent his theory of relativity.

    Incorrect: Einstein thought and studied a lot, and he came up a brilliant equation to represent his theory of relativity with.
Albert Einstein thinking of his famous formula


3. Get along with

This phrasal verb means to have a good relationship with someone, or to enjoy being with them.

This is how we express this meaning in the United States. In Britain, we express the same meaning with the phrasal verb get on with.

Examples:
  • Correct: Do you get along with your new co-worker? She seems very nice.

    Incorrect: Do you get your new co-worker along with? She seems very nice.

  • Correct: Lindsey gets along with the other members of the chorus very well. They have a great time practicing and performing together.

    Incorrect: Lindsey gets along the other members of the chorus with very well. They have a great time practicing and performing together.
Children singing in a chorus


4. Look up to

This phrasal verb means to admire someone or to have someone as a role model.

Examples:
  • Correct: Lots of children look up to their favorite actors or singers, so it's important for these stars to be good role models.

    Incorrect: Lots of children their favorite actors or singers look up to, so it's important for these stars to be good role models.

  • Correct: Geoff looks up to his father. He wants to be responsible and supportive like him when he grows up.

    Incorrect: Geoff looks his father up to. He wants to be responsible and supportive like him when he grows up.
A father and his son


5. Put up with

This phrasal verb means to deal with or endure a person or situation that we don't like.

Examples:
  • Correct: Just do your best to put up with the new trainee. I know he can be annoying, but soon he'll be transferred to a different department.

    Incorrect: Just do your best to put the new trainee up with. I know he can be annoying, but soon he'll be transferred to a different department.

  • Correct: Jodie and Rick just couldn't put up with the baby crying anymore! They decided to get a babysitter for the evening and enjoy a nice evening at the theater.

    Incorrect: Jodie and Rick just couldn't the baby crying put up with anymore! They decided to get a babysitter for the evening and enjoy a nice evening at the theater.
Parents leaving their crying son with a babysitter

Once you understand the meaning of these phrasal verbs, try writing some examples of your own to help you remember them. Then you can move on to learning a new set.

Be sure to review the other pages in this section and keep on studying. Phrasal verbs can be tricky, but with lots of practice, you'll be a pro!

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