We know that English comprises 8 parts of speech. Every one of these parts is important for proper communication between people, both in the written and the spoken form. Three of these parts - the verb, the preposition and the adverb - combine to provide much more meaning to communication. We often come across verbs that are followed by prepositions or adverbs. We find that when these words are taken together the meaning is quite different from what the verb alone conveys.
‘The plane TOOK OFF from the runway.’ This sentence means that the plane has flown off the ground and into the sky. TOOK OFF is known as a phrasal verb and here it comprises TOOK, a verb and OFF, an adverb.
‘I will THINK ABOUT going to high school.’ This is another sentence in which THINK ABOUT is a phrasal verb and here it comprises THINK, a verb and ABOUT, a preposition.
Any of the prepositions or adverbs can be used with the verb to lend more meaning. Sometimes, a word is both a preposition and an adverb. You can see how they differ in meaning when used with verbs.
'She is GETTING OVER the hurdle.’ This is a sentence where OVER is used as a preposition and the phrasal verb, GETTING OVER, means ‘to overcome the hurdle.’
‘He is THINKING OVER the problem.’ This is a sentence where OVER is used as an adverb and the phrasal verb, THINKING OVER, means ‘to study the problem’.
Phrasal verbs are normally used in spoken, rather than written, English. The use of phrasal verbs makes spoken English much more meaningful and readily understood. Sometimes, phrasal verbs help to put across an inconvenient thought in a more acceptable manner, as in the case of someone’s death, where the phrase ‘passed away’ is often used.
Take this quiz and see how phrasal verbs are made use of in the English language.