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Prepositional Verbs

Prepositional verbs are a group of multi-word verbs made from a verb plus another word or words. Many people refer to all multi-word verbs as phrasal verbs. On these pages we make a distinction between three types of multi-word verbs: prepositional verbs, phrasal verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. On this page we look at prepositional verbs.

Prepositional verbs are made of:

verb + preposition

Because a preposition always has an object, all prepositional verbs have direct objects. Here are some examples of prepositional verbs:

prepositional verbs meaning examples
  direct object
believe in have faith in the existence of I believe in God.
look after take care of He is looking after the dog.
talk about discuss Did you talk about me?
wait for await John is waiting for Mary.

Prepositional verbs cannot be separated. That means that we cannot put the direct object between the two parts. For example, we must say "look after the baby". We cannot say "look the baby after":

prepositional verbs are inseparable Correct! Who is looking after the baby? This is possible.
Not correct! Who is looking the baby after? This is not possible.
It is a good idea to write "something/somebody" in your vocabulary book when you learn a new prepositional verb, like this:
  • believe in something/somebody
  • look after sthg/sby
This reminds you that this verb needs a direct object (and where to put it).

Phrasal-prepositional Verbs »

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