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Grammar: Multi-word verbs (or phrasal verbs) – Upper-intermediate B2 level

Multi-word verbs are verbs which consist of a verb and one or two particles or prepositions (e.g. up, over, in, down). There are three types of multi-word verbs: phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. Sometimes, the name ‘phrasal verb’ is used to refer to all three types.

Sometimes the meaning of the multi-word verb is clear from the meaning
of the verb and the particle (e.g. sit down), but often you have to learn
the meaning of each multi-word verb.

Transitive and Intransitive multi-word verbs

• Transitive multi-word verbs need an object. The object can come
before the particle (e.g. throw sth away) or after the particle
(e.g. look after sb), depending on the type of multi-word verb.
• Intransitive multi-word verbs don’t have an object, e.g. go away
NOT go somebody away

Type 1 has no direct object (intransitive):
verb+ particle
wake up; go away; fall over; stay up; break up; sit down; take off; calm down
Type 2 has an object (transitive):
verb + noun I pronoun + particle
OR verb + particle + noun I pronoun
wake up; fall over; take off; ca lm down; try sth out;
figure sth out; make sth up; throw sth away; pick sth up;
let sb down
Type 3 has an object (transitive):
verb + particle + noun I pronoun
look into sth; focus on sth; be lieve in sth; live for sth;
be into sth; look after sb
Type 4 has two particles and always has an object:
verb+ particle 1 + particle 2 + noun I pronoun
come up with sth; look down on sb; look up to sb; run out of sth; fall out with sb; go on about sth; get away with sth

Tip: Many multi-word verbs are both transitive and intransitive (e.g. wake up; fall over; take off; calm down): When you wake up (intransitive), try not to wake the dog up (transitive) too! After the plane took off (intransitive), I took my shoes off (transitive). Use a dictionary to find out if a multi-word verb is transitive or intransitive.

Type 2 multi-word verbs

When the object is a long noun phrase, it normally comes after the particle:

Please throw away those old shoes that are nearly falling apart!

When the object is a pronoun (e.g. it, me, sb), it almost always comes
before the particle:

Those shoes are really old. Please throw them away! NOT: Please throw away them!

When the object is a short noun phrase (e.g. up to three word s), it
can come before or after the particle:

Please throw those old shoes away I Please throw away those old shoes.

Now it’s time to practice on multi-word verbs (phrasal verbs)

April 29, 2019

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