Phrasal verbs are used colloquially and are primarily found in spoken English. For ESL speakers, learning English phrasal verbs can be particularly challenging because they are not found as often in formal writing. Keep reading to learn more about phrasal verbs and their uses.

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English Phrasal Verbs
English phrasal verbs are idiomatic phrases that contain a verb and a particle (an adverb or a preposition). Phrasal verbs are most commonly used in everyday speech, and the English language contains thousands of them. They include expressions such as bring up, meaning to mention a topic or raise children, call off, meaning to cancel, and hand in, meaning to submit something. A change in particle can completely alter the meaning of the word. For example, the following phrasal verbs all contain different meanings based on the particle: look up, meaning to consult a reference book, look forward, meaning to anticipate with pleasure, and look for, meaning to seek. While there are no rules that explain the proper formation of phrasal verbs, a dictionary is the best tool to use to study and learn their meanings.

Transitive Phrasal Verbs
Transitive phrasal verbs are phrasal verbs that can take an object. For instance, the phrasal verb made up (something) contains an object. Transitive phrasal verbs can be both separable and inseparable. Separable phrasal verbs, such as looked (something) up, allow an object to be placed in between the verb and particle. Inseparable phrasal verbs, such as ran into (something), include a verb and particle that must stay together and cannot be separated by an object.

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
Intransitive phrasal verbs are phrasal verbs that cannot take an object. Expressions such as show up, break in, and call around do not have objects that follow them.

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