One of the biggest fears of English Learners: Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are always a very difficult matter when it comes to learning English. There are so many, with so many different meanings, so many different combinations, who wouldn’t be confused?

When one finds oneself in this complicated topic of the English language it is not easy to find ways to learn them in a fast way. But there are some tricks that could be useful.

For example, this could be a good way of proceeding when we encounter a new phrasal verb. We ask ourselves 4 questions:

  1. Do I know any other phrasal verbs that contain this verb?
  2. Do I know all the possible meanings this phrasal verb has? (A LOT of them have multiple meanings!)
  3. Is it a separable or an inseparable phrasal verb?
  4. Could I write a few sentences with it?

Let’s make a more obvious example:


1. Other phrasal verbs with this verb?

Take in, take on, take up.

2. Meanings?

  • Literal: to undress – take clothing off your body
  • Figurative: to be successful
  • Idiomatic: to not go to work, take leisure time

3. Separable or inseparable?

Separable (Figurative: Inseparable)

4. Sentences?

I took my coat off and sat in a chair.

His business took off as soon as it went into the international market.

Everybody needs some time off work from now and then.

We hope this may have helped a little bit. So now, how about some practice?