Phrasal Verbs | Introduction


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Learn about what phrasal verbs are in this introduction to phrasal verbs from English Plus Podcast.

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I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.


Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast. Today’s episode is about phrasal verbs. And in this episode, we will talk about the basics and we will use this episode to introduce the phrasal verbs and to tell you what phrasal verbs are and some important things you need to know before we start learning phrasal verbs based on specific topics.

[00:00:27] But before we start, let me remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description and you can also find a link that will take you to Patreon, where you can become a patron and support English plus podcast. And then you will get a PDF practice worksheet for every single episode we create custom made for the episode so that you can practice your English and get to a better level.

[00:00:53] So with that being said, let’s start with our episode for today and let’s talk about phrasal verb. So our first question is the obvious one. What are phrasal verbs? Now there’s a lot, we’ve talked about phrasal verbs. Is this a phrasal verb? Is this not afraid? Verb? What are phrasal verbs? Phrasal verbs are verbs that consists of a verb and a particle.

[00:01:12] It’s as simple as that, but what does that mean? Well, a verb, of course, we all know what a verb is, but what is the meaning of a particle. A particle can be a preposition or an adverb. Now let’s take a look at a couple of examples. For example, we have the verb look and the particle up. For example, we can say, you can look up any new words in your dictionary, and what’s the meaning of lookup here.

[00:01:35] The meaning is you can find the meaning of any new words in your dictionary. So here we had an example with a preposition as a particle, but what about through which can be an adverb here? We can say, for example, get through, like when we say I tried to phone her, but I couldn’t get through. So when we say that, that means I tried to call her or to phone her, but I couldn’t get a connection.

[00:01:59] Now here, if we look back at these two phrasal verbs, I just gave you look up and get through the problem with phrasal verbs is that the meaning is not always literal. The meaning can be idiomatic or unexpected. Now here, if you say, look up, if you take that literally, and you can use that literally by the way, and say, look up, and that means, you know, just point your eyes up and look up.

[00:02:21] But here, when we say look up new words, we’re not talking about looking up. It doesn’t have to do with looking up anything, but it means to search and find information in a dictionary or an encyclopedia, for example, and get through. If you think about it, literally. You will not understand what it means.

[00:02:39] When we said here, I tried to call her, but I couldn’t get through. What does that mean? Get through, get through what, but here, that simply means I couldn’t get a connection. So that is why phrasal verbs are very important to learn and understand. And they are used a lot in English. Now of course, when you want to look up the meaning, we just use, look up again, here, look up the meaning of a phrasal verb in a dictionary.

[00:03:03] There are a couple of things you need to know about. There are a couple of things you need to search for. So what do you need to know about phrasal verbs, phrasal verbs. First, you need to know the meaning of the whole phrasal verb as a unit. Of course. For example look means to use your eyes and up means the opposite of down, but the phrasal verb lookup can have several different meanings.

[00:03:23] For example, when we say, look, the word up in the dictionary means to search for information like in a book or a computer or the encyclopedia, or when we say I look you up next time, I’m in London. And that means something else means to visit someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Or we can say things are looking up.

[00:03:41] Things are looking up that has a different meaning. It means to improve. Of course, I don’t want you to look up every single meaning of every phrasal verb you come across, because that will clutter up the information in your mind and it will become confusing. But what I’m just saying is that phrasal verbs can have different meanings and actually they are used in different meanings.

[00:04:04] So just keep that in mind, when you look up the meaning of a phrasal verb in a dictionary, for example, We look up the meaning. We know the meaning of the phrasal verb as a unit, and then we need to know the grammar patterns of phrasal verbs. We need to know if the verb takes an object. For example, now here, I’ll give you some examples of phrasal verbs that take objects or other important grammatical notes.

[00:04:29] That you need to know about phrasal verbs. When you look them up in a good dictionary, of course you will find all the information I’m saying here. And of course in our series, we will mention them. And that’s why I wanted to include this important information in the introduction so that we understand what we’re talking about later in the series.

[00:04:46] Now, let me give you some examples. Like when we say eat out now, eat out the verb is used without an object. For example, we can say we’re too tired to cook at home. So we decided to eat out. That means to eat in a restaurant, obviously, but we do not say we decided to eat out a meal. We don’t use an object with eat out.

[00:05:05] So that is something we need to know if it doesn’t take an object. So we need to know that. So we don’t use it in an incorrect way. Another example, bring back something or bring something back. Now here, the verb must have a nonhuman object. For example, this photograph brings back happy memories. That means makes me remember or think about something from the past, but we don’t say this photograph brings back my sister.

[00:05:31] We just don’t use that. We just use nonhuman object with this phrasal verb. Another example, ask somebody out or ask out somebody. Now the verb must have a human object here. We say, for example, I’d love to ask Sally out. And that means to invite Sally to go out to a place like a cinema restaurant. But we don’t say I’d love to ask my dog out.

[00:05:52] We don’t use that. We need a human object. Now, here we have another example. Look after somebody or something. Now here, the object can be either human or non-human. For example, we can say, I’ll look after the baby while you’re cooking, or will you look after my bike while I’m away? Both are fine. And that’s to keep an eye on or to care for.

[00:06:13] And another example, when we say ring somebody back, the object here must come before the particles. And that is a very important thing to keep in mind when we learn new phrasal verbs, the object in this case must come before the particle. For example, we can say I’ll ring you back later. That needs to call you again.

[00:06:30] But we don’t say I’ll ring back. You, it doesn’t work. We cannot put the object later. It has to be before the particle I’ll ring you back. And sometimes the object must come after the particle. Like when we say, look after it cannot come before the particle, we can say, look after somebody or something. For example, we can say, can you look after the dog while I’m away?

[00:06:52] We cannot say, can you look the dog after, while I’m away, we cannot use the object before the particle. And the object can be before or after the particle in some phrasal verbs, like drop-off somebody or something or drop somebody or something off. Like when we say I dropped off the package at her house, and that means I delivered the package or I left the package or we can say I dropped the package off at her house and both are fine.

[00:07:19] So with that being said, I’m not trying to complicate things, but I’m just trying to tell you about the things we will discuss in later episodes. When I tell you that the object must come before or after the particle, or it is possible in both positions, but it is important to understand these things. So when we talk about them later, you will know what we are saying, and don’t worry about remembering everything.

[00:07:42] Said in this episode, because we will talk about them again in the episodes to come in this phrasal verb series. And now let’s talk about another thing that we need to know as an introduction to phrasal verbs. Now we have the most common verbs that we usually use with a lot of phrasal verbs. These verse like break, bring, call, come, cut, get, give, go, keep, knock, look, make paths.

[00:08:05] Pig bull, put, run, set, take, or turn. We have these verbs and. When we want to think about the meaning of these verbs, we can think about the concrete meaning of these verbs, the basic meaning of these verbs referred to a concrete action, like break means separating two pieces. But when they are part of phrasal verbs, they often have abstract meanings too.

[00:08:30] And when we talk about abstract meanings, the meaning becomes a little bit difficult to guess. Just from knowing or understanding the meaning of the verb and the particle. Now, sometimes the concrete meaning can help you guess the abstract, meaning for example, you can look back to wave goodbye to someone as you leave in a car that is a concrete meaning.

[00:08:50] Look behind you. Look back, look behind you. Yeah. That’s easy to understand. Or you can look back on your past life and here the meaning is abstract. Now it doesn’t mean to look behind you anymore. It means to remember or recall, but I would say that’s a little bit easy to understand as well, if you understand the meaning of looking back, of course, but sometimes it can be a little bit more difficult.

[00:09:11] Now let’s take a look at a couple of examples with concrete meaning and with abstract. Meaning for example, let’s take the verb. Give I gave my essay in yesterday. I gave my essay in, give in here. And we can understand given in, and that is close to the meaning of this phrasal verb, which is hand in to the teacher.

[00:09:30] Oh, that’s easy because that’s a concrete meaning of the phrase over, but let’s take a look at this example when we use given with an abstract meaning. Her parents finally gave in and let her go to the party. Now here, obviously we’re not talking about handing anything to anybody. What does it mean? Her parents finally gave in and let her go to the party.

[00:09:50] That means they agree to something they had refused before. So there is no way in the world. You could guess the meaning of this phrasal verb, unless you already know it. So here give in has an abstract meaning, and that’s why the meaning can be a little bit difficult to guess. Let’s take a look at another example with get she got on the bus.

[00:10:11] If we think about it, that’s a concrete meaning here and it’s easy to guess because get on, she entered the bus. Yes. That’s easy to understand. But what about when we say Jim and Mary don’t get on. Period. What does that mean? Don’t get on or are you talking about a bus or something? No, they just said Jim and Mary don’t get on.

[00:10:29] What does that mean? Here? We have get on with an abstract meaning. That means they don’t like each other and are not friendly to each other, so they don’t get on. And that’s difficult to guess. And let’s talk about one more example with the verb com. Would you like to come around this evening? I’ll come round.

[00:10:45] It has a concrete meaning that Ms. Come to my house, easy to guess. Even if you don’t know this phrasal verb before, if you haven’t heard of this phrasal verb before you would guess the meaning easily, but what about when we say he was unconscious for three hours, but came round in hospital? Well, What does that mean?

[00:11:03] It has an abstract meaning here and it means he became conscious again. So you see phrasal verbs can have concrete meaning, which is close to the meaning of the base verb they use. But sometimes, and to be honest, in most cases, they have abstract meanings and that’s why it is important to learn about phrasal verbs.

[00:11:23] And because they are very commonly used in English. Now we will talk about synonyms of phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs can often be replaced by a single verb with more or less the same meaning the single verb synonyms are often, but not always more formal. I remember that. I said not always usual. Yes, that’s true.

[00:11:43] The phrasal verb is more informal. The one verb or the single verb synonym of the phrasal verb is usually more formal, but that’s not always the case. For example, we say put off. And that has the same meaning of postpone. So you can use, put off or postpone in a little more formal way, or you can say, take off or remove.

[00:12:03] And that is one verb remove instead of takeoff. And it is a little bit more formal. What do we say? Turn up and arrive. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of examples here with those verbs. I just gave you. We can say let’s put off the meeting until Friday. That’s a little less formal than saying let’s postpone the meeting until Friday.

[00:12:21] That’s a little bit more formal. When we say, please take off your shoes. When you enter the temple, we can say, please remove your shoes when you enter the temple. And there is a more formal tone here, or we can say everyone turned up on time for the meeting. Or if you want to make it a little bit more formal, you can say everyone arrived on time for the meeting.

[00:12:42] So that being said, that’ll be everything I wanted to share with you today about phrasal verbs in the coming episodes, we will talk more about phrasal verbs. We will learn new phrasal verbs, especially when we start talking about phrasal verbs based on topics. So that will help you remember. Those phrasal verbs and use them in your own speaking, especially speaking.

[00:13:01] And of course you can also use phrasal verbs in writing as well. And now, before I leave you, let me remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description and you can also find a link to Patreon where you can support English plus podcast and help our journey continue.

[00:13:16] And by doing that, you will get our gratitude of course, but you will also get our custom made PDF practice worksheets, or every single episode we create. This is your host, Danny. Thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcasts. I will see you next time.


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<a href="" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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