How to learn phrasal verbs in English? -

How to learn phrasal verbs in English?

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How to learn phrasal verbs in English?


  • What are phrasal verbs?
  • Use the easiest way to study Phrasal Verbs
  • Composition of Phrasal Verbs
  • The meaning of Phrasal verbs
  • Separable or inseparable

Phrasal verbs in English are everywhere, so one of the best ways to learn them is to try listening to them . These phrases are commonly used and it would not be unusual to hear them in conversation. Do you hear a verb together with another word very often? It could be a phrasal verb.

If you’re not sure whether a phrase is a phrasal verb or just a verb that was pronounced with a preposition, try searching for it. Most dictionaries have entries for compound verbs , so look up the phrase to be sure.

What are phrasal verbs?

 The “phrasal verbs” are verbs composed of a verb + a preposition or adverbial particle . A preposition is a word that affects a noun (thing) and an adverbial particle is a word that affects a verb.

With an example we will see it better.

If I am in the living room on the ground floor and ask someone to bring me down some chairs from the upper floor, they would say:

  • Bring down those chairs. Baja esas sillas. En este caso “down” es una preposición ya que afecta al sustantivo “sillas” indicándonos hacia dónde hay que llevar la sillas.
  • In this case “down” is a preposition since it affects the noun “chairs” indicating where the chairs should be taken.

With this same combination of words, however, when “down” acts as an adverbial particle and affects only the verb and not a thing , the meaning changes, instead of indicating “direction”, the verb means: to sink, to bring down someone, or dust them. (American phrasal verb)

  • Don’t say that to him, you’ll bring him down.

(No le digas eso a él, lo hundirás).


Note that in this case we do not have a noun, therefore, “down” is an adverbial particle that affects the verb “bring” (to bring).

How can you tell what the meaning of “bring down” is in each case?

There is no other way than knowing the different meanings and deducing it from the context . This fact is precisely what makes learning phrasal verbs difficult.

We will put an example to make it clearer why the difficulty of the “phrasal verbs”:

  • The word “make” means “to do” (especially in the sense of “making” or “doing with the hands”). Now, if we add “up” to it, the meaning changes completely. The word “make up” not only means “makeup”, but also “invent.” Obviously, if you have not learned the meaning of “invent”, it is impossible that you can deduce it from the context; You have to know it.

Use the easiest way to study Phrasal verbs

Some meanings of compound verbs are obvious , such as fall down, but some are almost like idioms, since they cannot be translated literally. To make them easier to learn, you can try grouping phrasal verbs into categories.

Don’t be afraid to create your own categories from different types of phrasal verbs. In this direction you can group phrasal verbs that focus on the time of day (e.g. Despertarse, acostarse) (e.g. wake up, lie down) or positive versus negative (e.g. Anímate / renunciar) (e.g. cheer up/give up.

There are so many phrasal verbs that it can seem difficult to learn them all. But many of these phrases become natural after a while ; all you need is a little repetition and practice.

Phrasal verbs composition

Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and a preposition or an adverb:

Phrasal verb

Formal equivalent


To drop inTo visit- visitWhy don’t you drop in on your way to the supermarket?

Why don’t you come see me on the way to the supermarket?


To drop off


To deliver- deliver

 I’m going to drop off some of these boxes.

I’m going to deliver one of these boxes.


To ease off


To reduce- relieve, reduce

Traffic eases off from 9 o’clock onwards.

Traffic decreases after 9.

To fill outTo complete-fillYou have to fill out this form and pay a fee to become a member of this club.

To be a member of this club you must fill out this form and pay a fee.

To focus onTo concentrate-focusYou must focus on the important things, not on the details.

You should focus on what is important, not the details.

To find outTo discover-discover, find outThey found out he was cheating on them.

They found out that they were cheating on them.

To get inTo enter- enterWe can’t get in.

We cannot enter.


To get up


To rise- get up

He gets up at 5 every morning.

He gets up at 5 every morning.

The meaning of phrasal verbs

Sometimes it is difficult to understand the meaning of phrasal verbs . Before looking them up in a dictionary, it would be helpful to use context to understand them.

Literal meaning

Some phrasal verbs have a literal meaning. They can be easily understood.

  • She opened the door and looked outside.

(Abrió la puerta y miró hacia afuera).

  • She was walking across the street when she heard the sound of an explosion.

(Estaba cruzando la calle cuando escuchó el sonido de una explosión).

Idiomatic meaning

Phrasal verbs can also have a figurative or idiomatic meaning that makes them difficult to understand.

  • Can you put me up for tonight?

¿Me puedes alojar esta noche?

The phrasal verb put up here does not mean to build (like to put up a fence). However, it has an idiomatic / figurative meaning. It means letting someone stay at your house.

Separable or inseparable?

Sometimes the preposition / adverb is placed after the verb or after the object.


  • Mary made up a really entertaining story.

(Mari inventó una historia realmente entretenida).

  • Mary made the story up.

(Mary inventó la historia).

Also, learning phrasal verbs is essential for any official exam. Here we leave you the number 1 online platform.

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