How Phrasal Verbs Work and How to Learn Them
Phrasal verbs aren’t random. However, often English course books present them in a completely random way which makes them very difﬁcult to learn. Don’t try to learn “Phrasal verbs with take” or “Phrasal verbs with get” or “Phrasal verbs with go”. I used to teach them like this. It’s a waste of time!
To understand phrasal verbs you have to understand the little words – we call them particles. The most frequently used are up/down, in/out, on/off and back/away.
Little kids learn this words very early. My students are 16 years old. We practice these words all the time! We take a car and pick it UP and put it DOWN. Up, down, up, down, up, down. We sit ON the stool and get OFF the stool. ON and OFF. On, off, on off, on, off. We sit by the toy box and put the blocks IN and take them OUT. In, out, in, out. These directional meanings are in GROUP 1.
Each particle also has some special meanings. You can ﬁnd these in GROUP 2.
Sometimes we use the directional meaning in a metaphorical way. These are in GROUP 3.
Some phrasal verbs really are random. These are in GROUP 4.
There are some other directions that we use less often, including after, through, over, across, around, past, together and apart. You can ﬁnd these in GROUP 5.