Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs (or multi-word verbs) are numerous and common in English, especially in spoken English.

They tend to be used as an alternative for more specific verbs (known as lexical verbs).

For example:

She put up with her friend's bad behaviour.

rather than

She tolerated her friend's bad behaviour.

The phrasal verb to put up with is being used instead of the verb to tolerate.


A phrasal verb comprises a verb plus a preposition (and in some cases two prepositions); when studying phrasal verbs these prepositions are known as particles.

They can be seperated into types which are transitive or intransitive and seperable or inseperable.


Phrasal verbs can have literal, semi-literal and idiomatic meanings.

However, they shouldn't be confused with verbs taking dependent prepositions or idioms.


Where the stress falls on the components of a phrasal verb varies depending on the type of phrasal verb.

Teaching approaches

The potential number of verbs available to use plus the significant number of combinations of particles means learning phrasal verbs requires a strategic approach. There is an almost infinite number of phrasal verbs in English when one considers the language's ability to evolve and create new words.

I provide students with advice about the concepts which under-pin phrasal verbs, rules about their form, usage and pronunciation as well as strategies that can be used to deduce the meaning of phrasal verbs as a learner encounters them.

Sample Activity

The following activity assesses your ability to identify phrasal verbs (Level Upper Intermediate and above).


Attempts allowedUnlimited
Pass rate75 %
Backwards navigationAllowed
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