Phrasal Verb

A verb and a particle and/or a preposition co-occur forming a single semantic unit. This semantic unit cannot be understood based upon the meanings of the individual parts in isolation, but rather it must be taken as a whole. In other words, the meaning is non-compositional and thus unpredictable. Phrasal verbs that include a preposition are known as prepositional verbs and phrasal verbs that include a particle are also known as particle verbs. Additional alternative terms for phrasal verb are compound verb, verb-adverb combination, verb-particle construction, two-part word/verb, and three-part word/verb (depending on the number of particles), and multi- word verb.

The Words Constituting the Phrasal Verb Constructions in the Following

1. Verb + preposition (prepositional phrasal verbs:

  • Who is looking after the kids? – after is a preposition that introduces the prepositional phrase after the kids
  • She takes after her mother. – after is a preposition that introduces the prepositional phrase after her mother.
  • Sam passes for a linguist. – for is a preposition that introduces the prepositional phrase for a linguist.

2. Verb + particle (particle phrasal verbs:

  • They brought that up twice. – up is a particle, not a preposition.
  • You should think it over. – over is a particle, not a preposition.
  • You should not give in so quickly. – in is a particle, not a preposition.
  • Where do they want to hang out? – out is a particle, not a preposition.

3. Verb + particle + preposition (particle-prepositional phrasal verbs:

  • She is looking forward to a rest. – forward is a particle and to is a preposition.
  • The other tanks were bearing down on my panther. – down is a particle and on is a preposition.
  • They were really teeing off on me. – off is a particle and on is a preposition.
  • We loaded up on Mountain Dew and chips. – up is a particle and on is a preposition.


Common English Phrasal

1. When you believe in something or somebody you are sure that something or somebody exists.
Examples of use:

  • Do you believe in God?
  • I didn't believe in ghosts until I stayed in an old castle in Romania: now I'm certain they exist.
  • My children still believe in fairies.

2. To believe in something is to have a strong belief that something is good or right.

Examples of use:

  • My grandparents believed in working hard and helping others.
  • They do not believe in the death penalty.
  • We believe in discipline for our children, but we don't believe in hitting them.
  • We don't believe in living together before marriage.
  1. infinitive - believe in
  2. present simple - believe in and believes in
  3. -ing form - believing in
  4. past simple - believed in
  5. past participle - believed in

To blow up something (or blow something up) means to fill it with air; for example, a balloon, or a car or bicycle tyre.

Example of use:

  • Can you blow these balloons up for the party, please?

2. Blow up also means to suddenly lose your temper (get very angry). Informal English.

Example of use:

  • I broke her iPad and she blew up at me.
  • We were having a discussion about the accounts and he suddenly blew up and stormed out.
  1. infinitive - blow up
  2. present simple - blow up and blows up
  3. -ing form - blowing up
  4. past simple - blew up
  5. past participle - blown up

If a vehicle or machine breaks down it stops working.

Examples of use:

  • Our car broke down on the way to the airport and we missed our flight.
  • My washing machine has broken down.
  • Sorry I’m late. The train broke down.

2. If you break down you are unable to control your feelings and you start to cry.

Examples of use:

  • She broke down when she heard the sad news.
  • He misses his mother very much, and he often breaks down when he talks about her.
  1. infinitive - break down
  2. present simple - break down and breaks down
  3. -ing form - breaking down
  4. past simple - broke down
  5. past participle - broken down


1. If you call back somebody (or call somebody back) you telephone someone who rang you earlier, or you telephone someone for a second time.

Examples of use:

  • Mr Evans telephoned while you were out: he wants you to call him back.
  • He forgot to book a double room, so he had to call the hotel back.

2. To call back is to return to a place to see somebody again.
Examples of use:

  • Mrs Lal is in a meeting. Can you call back this afternoon, please?
  1. infinitive - call back
  2. present simple - call back and calls back
  3. -ing form - calling back
  4. past simple - called back
  5. past participle - called back

1. To call off something (or call something off) is to cancel a planned event, or an event that has already started

Examples of use:

  • They are calling off the tennis match because of the rain.
  • They called off their wedding.
  • Mike is ill so we will have to call the party off.
  • The Bahrain Grand Prix has been called off.

2. To call off somebody or something (or call somebody or something off) is to give a command to somebody or something (e.g. a dog) to leave someone alone, or to stop attacking someone.

Examples of use:

  • Call off your dog
  • The General called off his troops
  • OK, I agree to your demands. You can call your lawyers off now.
  1. infinitive - call off
  2. present simple - call off and calls off
  3. -ing form - calling off
  4. past simple - called off
  5. past participle - called off


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