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So what are phrasal verbs anyway?

What are Phrasal Verbs?

A phrasal verb is a phrase or expression that consists of a verb plus another word or two, like this:

[verb + adverb] eg: look up

[verb + preposition] eg: look after

[verb + adverb + preposition] eg: look forward to

The whole phrase acts as a verb, and has a different meaning to the original verb. For example, look up, look after and look forward to do NOT mean the same as look.

Because we cannot always work out the meaning of a phrasal verb from its individual words, phrasal verbs are usually "idiomatic". They are very common in spoken English, and less common in formal written English.

Some phrasal verbs can be split by their object. They are said to be "separable" because the object can go between the verb and the rest of the phrase. For example, in the following sentences the phrasal verb "turn on" is separable, so the object ("the radio") can go after the phrasal verb OR in the middle of the phrasal verb:

Here are some more example sentences with phrasal verbs:

See a list of phrasal verbs

Study the grammar of phrasal verbs

Order "1000 Phrasal Verbs in Context" ebook

1000 Phrasal Verbs in ContextImprove your knowledge of phrasal verbs with this self-study guide for English learners. 1000 Phrasal Verbs in Context. (Also good for teachers in class.)