Posted by: Jack Henry | October 9, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Phrasal Verbs

Many English language learners consider phrasal verbs to be one of the most difficult parts of our language. But many native English speakers use phrasal verbs every day without even knowing what they are.

Merriam-Webster defines a phrasal verb as “a phrase (as take off or look down on) that combines a verb with a preposition or adverb or both and that functions as a verb whose meaning is different from the combined meanings of the individual words.”

You May Already Be an Expert

If you don’t think you’re a phrasal verb expert, read the following example and pay attention to how different prepositions (up, in, out, on, and for) change the meaning of the verb call.

Example: This morning, I called up a call-in show to call out our hypocritical mayor and call on listeners to call for his resignation. Then I called in sick and called on my baseball-playing neighbor (who was called up to the majors) to call in a favor.

Phrasal Verbs Are Hard

Learning phrasal verbs requires memorizing them (through dedicated study or by hearing them spoken over and over). Even if you know the meaning of the word call and the word out, you can’t logically deduce the meaning of the phrase call out (“to publicly criticize or fault someone”).

Phrasal verbs are unforgiving. Using the wrong preposition can sound awkward (“calling up sick”) or can change your meaning in unintended ways (“checking out” your grandma instead of “checking on” her).

Even if you have a good ear for phrasal verbs in general, there are some mistakes you should avoid. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss some of these mistakes.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

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