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Irina Bicescu


Scientific and Methodological Paper

for obtaining
The First Didactic Degree

Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Daniela Ionescu

Editura Andrew


To the memory of my beloved parents
who made me into what I am today.



Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 What is an idiom

1.2 Kinds of idioms

1.3 Where and when to use idioms

Chapter 2. General information about phrasal verbs

2.1 The use of phrasal verbs in English

2.2 Idiomatic or literal verb-particle construction

2.3 How common phrasal verbs are formed. Characteristics

Chapter 3. Verbs followed idiomatically by prepositions

3.1 Some problems in the use of verb plus preposition or particle

3.2 Non phrasal verbs compared with phrasal verbs

3.3 Types of verb plus preposition or particle combinations and their

idiomatic meaning

Chapter 4. Metaphor and verb phrases

4.1 Explaining the metaphors

4.2 Metaphorical use of idioms

4.3 Sets of metaphors

Chapter 5. Learners and verb phrases

Chapter 6. Practical applications: suggestions for teaching

Final remarks



The vocabulary knowledge of a foreign language is necessary in the sense that

words are the basic building blocks of language, the units of meaning from which
larger structures such as sentences, paragraphs and whole texts are formed. For
learners acquisition of vocabulary is typically a conscious and demanding
process. Even at an advanced level, learners are aware of limitations in their
knowledge of foreign language words. They experience lexical gaps, that is words
they read which they simply don`t understand, or concepts that they cannot
express as adequately as they could in their first language.

Generally speaking, little has been written on the problems and strategies of
teaching and learning of foreign language vocabulary. It is probably assumed that
learning of another language vocabulary will be somehow mastered by those
interested in the language on their own. There is also a popular perception that
learning a foreign language is basically mastering its vocabulary. Many learners
see foreign language acquisition as essentially a matter of learning vocabulary,
therefore they devote a great deal of time to memorizing lists of words and rely on
their bilingual dictionary as a basic communicative resource. In popular writing,
the expression word power is used in this sense. Thus, from various points of
view, vocabulary can be seen as a priority area in language teaching/learning.
However, language teaching strategies for teaching vocabulary seem to be a
neglected area which needs the attention of language teachers. Within this general
field, two important but overlapping components in the context of ELT seem to be
idioms and multi-word verbal combinations that demand a lot of concern for the
following reasons:

Subjectively and introspectively speaking, and also based on the experience of

teachers and learners of English as a foreign language, it has been observed that
these two areas cause a lot of problems and difficulties.

Objectively, there is a frequent demand from those possessing the knowledge of

EFL that they must have a command of idiomatic expressions in real-life

The possibility of using the same verb with different particles as to produce
several other multi-word verb forms, with new meanings, makes the processes of
information retrieval, recalling the lexical item at will, thus facilitating spelling
and pronunciation, etc, much easier. Therefore it makes perfect sense to form give
in, give up and give away to from the same verb give although it may present

difficulties to some learners. In using the internet, sign up, sign in, sign on and
sign out are also illustrative.

It is important to change the view which is based on the hypothesis that mastering
of idiomatic expressions and multi-word verbs could be restricted only to the
native speakers learning English formally or enhancing their knowledge of their
first language (English) in order to approximate this competence. The non-native
learners often show a tendency to avoid using vocabulary in an idiomatic way.

Idiomatic expressions and multi-word verbs are some of the most interesting and
yet challenging aspects of the English vocabulary. They are interesting because
they are colorful and lively, and also because they are linguistic curiosities. At the
same time, they are difficult because they have unpredictable meanings or
collocations and grammar, and often have special connotations. They also
demonstrate possibilities of semantic expansion.

Idiomatic expressions and multi-word verbs are fascinating aspects of English,

commonly used in all types of contexts, namely informal and formal, spoken and
written. Unfortunately, idiomatic expressions and multi-word verbs are frequently
neglected in general dictionaries and classroom teaching, because they are
considered marginal items (especially idioms) which are claimed to be quaint but
not significant enough to merit special attention. Yet, research and literature into
these two areas show that they have important roles in spoken language and in
writing, particularly in conveying evaluations and in developing or maintaining

Chapter I
Language is a living thing.


It is commonly agreed that the vocabulary of a language grows continually with

new developments in knowledge. New ideas need new labels to name them.
Without new labels, communication of these new ideas would be impossible.

Many new words come from the English of special subjects such as computer
sciences, sociology, advertising, politics and economics. Computer technology
has given birth to software diskette high-tech on-line
printout ,computer-literate to format to log on, to mention only a
few. The technology of nuclear power has given us interesting noun compounds
such as meltdown or reactor spent-fuel processing plant. From economics
we have wage-freeze price-freeze or stagflation. The field of advertising
has given us soft-sell and hard-sell (subtle and aggressive sell techniques),
hype (intensive, exaggerate sales promotion/publicity/marketing) and the
corresponding verb to hype.

Words which already exist can take on an additional meaning in a special context.
For example, the field of industrial relations has given new meaning to the verbs
to walk out, to look out, to sit in, to go slow. The noun forms walk-
out, lock-out, sit-in and go slow are used almost exclusively in this
context. The words leak, spill, waste are typically used in the context of
technology of nuclear power, as well as in everyday contexts. In computer jargon,
the verb to hack and the nouns memory, drive and hardware have taken on
new meanings. The word hard as used for example in hard copy has taken
on the specialized meaning readable by the eye, i.e. not only machine-
readable output as on magnetic type.

American English is particularly flexible and creates new words by changing a

word`s grammatical function, e.g. verb to noun, as in a set-up, a buy-out, a
phone-in, a shoot-out. Nouns are made into verbs as in to access, to window
(computer jargon), to microwave, to rubber-stamp, to scapegoat, to color-match.
Adjectives are made into verbs, as in to soundproof, to streamline, to net(i.e. to
bring in a net profit), to temp (i.e. to do temporary work). British English quickly
absorbs such American forms. All these changes are short cuts in language, as
they make the form of words shorter and more direct, and for that reason are
becoming increasingly popular.

Educated usage has become much more flexible and tolerant about what is
considered to be correct or acceptable. Such changes of attitude can be observed
in several parts of grammar, including case, number and tense.

The attitude of users towards style has also become more flexible. Several words
which were considered to be slang in the past have gradually been up-graded in
status and are now often considered informal or colloquial. Much of what was
labelled informal in the past is now considered neutral in style. This is partly due
to the spread in use of taboo words by educated speakers. Several such words give
much less offence than in the past and are widely used in both American and
British productions.

Cultures differ greatly in their attitudes towards ready-made speech. In certain

cultures Japan or Turkey, say knowing the right thing to say for a given
occasion is extremely important. Although in everyday small-talk and in
ceremonial speeches Americans depend a great deal on ready-made expressions,
there is a general attitude that when it is important to say something, one should
use language that directly expresses what is on one`s heart, rather than to recite
well-worn ready-made expressions.

It`s as if the members of some cultures would say Why do you display your own
linguistic cleverness at a time like this? Everybody knows what you`re supposed
to say, and by doing what you`ve just done, you`ve drawn attention to yourself.
Whereas other cultures would say, How thoughtless of you just to recite phrases
that you`ve memorized; at a time like this you, as an individual, should say what`s
on your heart!In short, having lots of ready-made things to depend on can be
thought as a groove, making your conversational life a rut, blocking your
freedom of expression, getting you stuck in routines that don`t fill your special

In any case, making use of ready-made expressions creates a sense of group

solidarity, since each member of a language community can depend on the others
to pick up allusions, to recognize familiar ways of thinking, and so on.

1.1 What is an idiom?

It is important to realize that idioms are not only colloquial expressions, as many
people believe. They appear in formal style and in slang, in poetry, in the
language of Shakespeare and the Bible. What then is an idiom?

An idiom is an expression (i.e. term or phrase) whose meaning cannot be deduced

from the literal definitions and the arrangement of its parts, but refers instead to a
figurative meaning that is known only through conventional use.

In linguistics, idioms are widely assumed to be figures of speech that contradict
the principle of compositionality the principle that the meaning of a complex
expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the
rules used to combine them.

Idioms are, in essence, often colloquial metaphors terms which require some
foundational knowledge, information, experience, to use only within a culture
where parties must have common reference. As cultures are typically localized,
idioms are most often than not useful for communication outside of that local
context. However, some idioms can be more universally used than others, and
they can be easily translated, or their metaphorical meaning can be more easily

While many idioms are clearly based in conceptual metaphors such as time as
substance, time as path, love as war or up is more, the idioms themselves
are often not particularly essential, even when the metaphors themselves are. For
example spend time, battle of sexes and back in the day are based in essential
metaphors, but one can communicate perfectly well with or without them.

In forms like profits are up, the metaphor is carried by up itself. The phrase
profits are up is not itself an idiom. Practically anything measurable can be used
in place of profits: crime is up, satisfaction is up, complaints are up etc. Truly
essential idioms involve prepositions, for example out of or turn into.

1.2 Kinds of idioms

Idioms may take different forms or structures. An idiom can have a regular
structure, an irregular or even a grammatically incorrect structure. The clarity of
meaning is not dependent on the grammatical correctness.
A few examples will illustrate this:

1. Form irregular, meaning clear:

give someone to understand

do someone proud
do the dirty on someone

2. Form regular, meaning unclear:

have a bee in one`s bonnet

cut no ice
bring the house down

3. Form irregular, meaning unclear:

be at large
go great guns
be at daggers drawn

In fact, most idioms belong to the second group, where the form is irregular but
the meaning unclear. However, in this group, some idioms are clearer than others.
For example, the meaning of to give someone the green light can be guessed as
to give someone permission to start. Others are too difficult to guess because
they have no association with the original meaning of the individual words. Such
examples are: to tell someone where to get off, To carry the can, to drop a
brick, to call the shots.

1.3 Where and when to use idioms

One of the main difficulties for learners is knowing in which situation it is correct
to use an idiom, i.e. the level of style. There are neutral idioms which may be used
in most situations. Informal idioms are used in everyday spoken English and in
personal letters. Learners should be advised to avoid using slang and taboo
expressions until their mastery of language is complete.

A further difficulty is knowing whether an idiom is natural or appropriate in a

particular situation, such as in business contexts for example.
Another difficulty is that of fixed idioms and idioms with variants. It is most
important to be exact in one`s use of fixed idioms, as an inaccurate idiom may
mean nothing to a native speaker.
Above all, it is extremely unwise to translate idioms into or from one`s native
language; in most cases the result will be utterly bewildering to the English native
speaker and possibly highly amusing.

Chapter II

General information about phrasal verbs

2.1 The use of phrasal verbs in English

Romanian students generally find great differences between the English they learn
at school and the English they have to understand and use with native speakers. If
only they had been taught a couple hundred essential phrasal verbs, the passage
from school to the real world would have been so much simpler!

Phrasal verbs are a specific kind of verbs. The term derives from phrase which
in traditional linguistic theory refers to the minimum unit of syntax. They differ
from normal verbs in that they are constituted by two or three elements instead of
just one.

The number of common verbs, prepositions and adverbs in English is not very
great. Yet the quantity of actions, states, and events to be communicated in verb
form tends towards the infinite. Phrasal verbs are products of the recycling and
the recombination of finite lexical elements in order to render the language
infinitely wealthy and expressive. The English verb thus combines with
prepositions and adverb particles; there are certain words such as in, off, up
which function either as prepositions or as adverb particles. When such words are
followed by an object, they function as prepositions; where there is no object,
they are adverb particles:

preposition The children are in the house.

adverb The children have just gone in.

Sometimes this combination is not essential but reinforces the meaning of a verb.
So, for example, the verb drink in Drink your milk! can be reinforced by up
to suggest finish drinking it or drink it all. Drink up your milk! (Or drink your
milk up!)

Idiomatic combinations

The primary meaning of a verb can be completely changed when it combines with
a preposition or particle: a new verb is formed, which may have a totally different
idiomatic meaning, or even several meanings. For example, there are numerous

combinations with make: make for (a place) go towards, make off run
away, make up invent, and so on.
There is a strong tendency (especially in informal, idiomatic English) to use
phrasal verbs instead of their one- word equivalents. It would be very unusual, for
instance, to say Enter! instead of Come in! in response to a knock at the door.
Similarly, blow up might be preferred to explode, give in to surrender
etc. Moreover, new combinations (or new meanings for existing ones) are
constantly evolving:

Share price bottomed out ( i.e. reached their lowest level) in 1974.
The book took off ( i.e. became successful) as soon as it appeared.

2.2 Idiomatic or literal verb-particle constructions?

Some grammarians claim that only the figurative, idiomatic or metaphorical usage
of the combination should be called a phrasal verb, and that the literal use, where
both the verb and the preposition are analyzed, and both are found to have a literal
meaning in a phrasal context, should be called verb and particle or verb-
particle constructions.

Other linguistic experts are of the opinion that all verb-particle constructions in
both literal, as well as figurative/idiomatic use should be called phrasal verbs,
whether they have an individual meaning or not. Emphasis in idiomatic phrasal
verbs is put on the analysis to ascertain whether either verb or particle have a
meaning. If neither component has a meaning of its own within the context of the
sentence, it confirms the idiomaticity of the whole and all that needs to be noted is
whether the idiom is valid and recognized as such.

Literal verb-particle constructions, on the other hand necessitate much closer

attention to syntax, because as both components have a meaning, the composition
of the whole sentence has to be much more precise to have the actual meaning
and function of each word within the syntax confirmed rather than the user being
able to rely on known idiom.

So it is that grammatical and syntactical points in literal verb-phrase are much

more important than they are in idiomatic phrases, where the known idiom
determines the structure. Is the transitive form separable or not, for example, as in
hammer a nail in or hammer in a nail, where the particle precedes or follows
the object in so-called particle shifts? Is the particle preceding or following
the object as in these examples: be something in or be in something, in this
way changing the meaning entirely?

Literal verb-particle constructions are of a much more open type than idiomatic
constructions. Every time a (new) situation is described with a literal verb-particle

phrase a new form may automatically be created. The phrase to go to alone
will form as many literal verb versions as there are geographical entities globally,
as I to go New York, to go to the U.K. etc. On the other hand, idiomatic
phrases are certainly finite in number.

Idioms tend to be well-established in the English language, having been created

probably as a metaphor, and now being used as a handy standby when required.
However, they have to be recognized as being valid as idioms. That does not
mean that new idiomatic verb phrases may not be created. One recent example
has been to chill out. It is a metaphor and because it is used so often these days,
it has become an idiom and a clich.

Many phrasal verbs may, of course, be used either in the idiomatic or literal sense,
such as:

He came across the garden to speak to me. (literal)

I came across an old photograph. (idiomatic)
We came across him while he was working out. (idiomatic)
The old lady came across as being very frightened. (idiomatic)

Some idiomatic phrasal verbs have a distinct syntax which would not make sense
if given a literal interpretation:

She threw the ball up. (literal, transitive)

She threw up. (idiomatic, intransitive)

Originally, all idiomatic phrasal verbs almost certainly started out as a verb and
prepositional particle in literal usage. Just as a picture hangs on the wall, or we
cross over to the other side of the road, so a mother may have taken a last look
at her child going off to school, or may in fact have looked after the child, a
usage whose meaning has changed in that it describes an entirely different activity
in the modern context to look after someone meaning to care for someone.
However, in everyday life an idiomatic phrasal verb too, like any other
grammatical constructs, becomes fixed and authentic enough in time by its being
used frequently

2.3 How common phrasal verbs are formed

The most phrasal verbs are formed from the shortest and simplest verbs in the
language, e.g.:
Be, break, bring, come, do, fall, find, get, give, go, help, let, make, put, send,
stand, take, tear, throw, turn, which combine with words that often indicate
position or direction such as: along, down, in, off, on, out, over, under, up.

Not only can a single verb like put combine with a large number of prepositions
or particles to form new verbs (put off, put out, put up with, etc) but even a
single combination can have different meanings:

Put out your cigarette. (extinguish)

I feel quite put out. (annoyed)
We put out a request for volunteers. ( issued)
They are putting the program out tomorrow. (broadcasting)
This stuff will put you out in no time (make you unconscious)
Martha has put out her hip again. (dislocated)

Chapter III

Verbs followed idiomatically by prepositions

3.1 Some problems in the use of verb + preposition / particle

Apart from the obvious problem that the use of phrasal verbs is extremely
common and a standard feature of good idiomatic English, interference with
learner`s own language may arise from:

a. Verbs which may be followed by an infinitive in the learner`s language, but

which in English can be followed by a preposition or particle + object, but never
by an infinitive, e.g.: dream of, insist on, succeed in, think of :
Your father insists on coming with us.

b. Verbs which are followed by to as a preposition, not as an infinitive. There are

relatively few of these: accustom (oneself) to, face up to, in addition to, look
forward to, be reduced to, resort to , be used to :
I look forward to seeing you.

c. Verbs which are followed by different prepositions from the ones used in the
learner`s language, e.g.: believe in, consist of , depend on , laugh at , live in ,
rely on , smell of , taste of :
Everybody laughed at my proposal to ban smoking on trains.

d. Verbs which take a preposition in English, but may not need one in the
learner`s language, e.g.: ask for, listen to, look at , look for , wait for :
You should ask for the bill.

e. Verbs which may be followed by a preposition in the learner`s language, but

not normally in English, e.g.: approach , discuss , enter , lack , marry , obey,
remember , resemble :
We all turned and looked at Mildred when she entered the room.

3.2 Non-phrasal verbs compared with phrasal verbs

Sometimes a phrasal verb can be confused with a single-word verb followed by

an adverbial-prepositional phrase. In other words, is the particle (are the particles)
following the verb part of the verb itself or not?

In the following examples:

Let`s eat in the garden / on the terrace / under that tree.
in and on do not have a special relationship with eat: they are in free
association so that eat in and eat on are not phrasal verbs here. Most verbs
(especially verbs of movement) can occur in free association with prepositions
and particles, but these combinations are not always phrasal verbs. For example:
climb, go, walk, etc. will combine freely with down, from in, up, etc.

I go to the bank on Friday. (verb + preposition, not phrasal)

You can come out now. (verb + particle, non-phrasal)

In the examples of this kind, the verbs before the prepositions or particles are

He hurried / ran / walked / went up (the hill).

Furthermore, in such examples, a verb + preposition or particle is used in its

literal sense. The meaning of the verb is a combination of the two words used,
e.g.: come + out (i.e. the same as the meaning of its separate parts). However, a
verb may have an obvious literal meaning in one context and a highly idiomatic
one in another:

We`d better step on that carpet. (literal)

We`d better step on it. (i.e. hurry up: idiomatic phrasal verb)

The combination of verb + preposition or particle can be described as phrasal

when the two or three parts are in common association (not free association) and
yield a particular meaning which may either be obvious (e.g. I took off my
jacket.) or idiomatic (The plane took off = rose into the air.) .However, the
dividing line between non-phrasal and phrasal verbs is not always easy to draw. In
order to decide if a verb + preposition or verb + adverb combination is a phrasal
verb or not, we can try to substitute the base verb with a synonymous single-word
web. If the sentence makes no sense, then the original is a phrasal verb:

He ran up a huge bill at the restaurant.

He walked up a huge bill at the restaurant.

Vice-versa, if the sentence makes sense, the original is a single-word verb:

He ran up the hill.

He walked up the hill.

Another way to verify the cohesion of verb and particle is to transform the active
verb in passive. This time, however, if the sentence makes sense, then the original
verb is a phrasal verb:

A huge bill was run up at the restaurant.

If the sentence makes no sense, the original is a single-word verb:

The hill was run up by him.

3.3 Types of verb + preposition/particle combinations with different


Type 1: verb + preposition (transitive), e.g. get over (an illness)

General characteristics:

a. Verbs of this type are followed by a preposition which takes an object

(they are transitive):

I`m looking for my glasses. (noun object)

I`m looking for them. (pronoun object)

b. We cannot put the preposition after the object:

Look at this picture. (Never: Look this picture at.)

However, separation of the preposition from the verb is sometimes possible in

relative clauses and questions (see note e bellow):

The picture at which you are looking was bought at an auction.

At which picture are you looking?

c. Verb + preposition can come at the end of a sentence or clause:

She`s got more work than she can cope with.

There`s so much to look at when you visit the National Gallery.

d. Some combinations can go into the passive:

Every problem that came up was dealt with efficiently.

e. An adverb may come after the object:

Look at this drawing carefully.

or, for emphasis, immediately before or after the verb:

Look carefully at this drawing.

f. Monosyllabic prepositions are not usually stressed:

This cake consists of a few common ingredients.
Three sub-groups can be identified:

1. Verb + preposition: non-idiomatic meanings, e.g.:

approve of, associate with, believe in, emerge from, fight against, hope for,
listen to, etc.

The verbs are used in their normal sense. The problem is to remember which
preposition(s) are associated with them. Sometimes different prepositions are
possible, e.g.:consist of/in where the meaning of the verb remains broadly

Cement consists of sand and lime (i.e. the subject cement is made of).
Happiness consists in having a cheerful outlook. (i.e. consists defines the
subject happiness)

2. Verb + object + preposition: non-idiomatic meanings, e.g.

remind someone of, tell someone about, thank someone for

Tell us about your travels in China, grandpa.

Most of these verbs can be used in the passive.

3. Verb + preposition: idiomatic meanings

The parts of such verbs cannot be so easily related to their literal meanings.
Relatively few of these verbs can go into the passive, and the preposition can
hardly ever be separated from the verb. (see General characteristics-Type1
above), e.g.: come over=affect, get over=recover, go for=attack, run into=meet
by accident.

I can`t explain why I did it. I don`t know what came over me.
Has Martha got over her illness yet?
Our dog went for the postman this morning

Type 2: verb + particle (transitive)

General characteristics:

a. These verbs are followed by particles or words that can be used as

prepositions or particles. A word following a verb may in some cases
function as a preposition in one context and as a particle in another:

Come up the stairs. (preposition)

Come up. (particle)

b. These verbs are transitive:

Drink up your milk! , though some of them can be used intransitively:

Drink up!

c. The particle can be separated from its verb and can go immediately after
the noun or noun-phrase object:

Please turn every light in the house off!

With long objects, we avoid separating the particle from the verb:
She turned off all the lights which had been left on.

d. All transitive verbs can be used in the passive:

All the lights in the house had been turned off.

e. When the particle comes at the end of the sentence, it is stressed.

He took off his coat. He took his coat off.

f. Often a verb + particle can be transitive with one meaning:

We have to turn our essays in / turn in our essays by Friday.

and transitive, therefore Type 3 with another meaning:

I feel sleepy, so I think I`ll turn in.

g. Nouns can be formed from many verbs of this type:

e.g. a breakdown, a knockout, a follow-up, a setback

Type 2 verbs : word order

When there is a noun object, the particle can go:

- before the object:

She gave away all her possessions.

- after the object:

She gave all her possessions away.

Even though we may put an object after e.g. away as in the first example above,
away is a particle, not a preposition. A particle is more closely related to the verb
and does not govern the object as a preposition does. It is mobile to the extent
that it can be used before or after the object. If the object is a pronoun, it always
comes before the particle:

She gave them away. She let me / him / her / it / us / them out.

In some cases, the particle comes only after the object:

We can allow the children out till 9.

Three sub-groups can be identified:

1. Non-phrasal verbs with obvious meaning (free association).

Verbs in this group can be used with their literal meanings:

You`d better pull in that fishing line.

You`d better pull that fishing line in.

2. Particles that strengthen or extend the effect of the verb e.g. call out, eat
up, stick on, write down.
The verbs in this group retain their literal meaning. In some cases, the particle can
be omitted altogether:

Write their name!

3. In other cases, the particle can extend the meaning of a verb:

Give out these leaflets! (i.e. distribute)

The difference between literal (non-idiomatic) meanings and extended

meanings is often hard to draw.

Type 2 verbs with idiomatic meanings

This is a very large category in which the verb + particle have little or no relation
to their literal meanings, e.g. make up can mean invent, as in make up a

story;take off can mean imitate as in take off the Prime Minister. Verb
combinations, therefore, can have many different meanings, depending on the
particles used. Here are just a few examples of the combinations possible with
bring and drop :

verb meaning example

bring up train, educate bring up the children
bring off complete successfully bring off a deal
bring on cause bring on a disease
bring round persuade bring smb. round to your
point of view
bring down receive enthusiastic bring down the house
drop off decline gradually The hill dropped off near
the river.
drop off fall asleep While doing his homework,
he dropped off.
drop off stop and give Would you drop this off
sth. to smb. at the post office?
drop out cease to participate After two laps, the
runner dropped out.

There is also a large category of fixed expressions with nouns. These remain
invariable at all times, e.g. make up your mind (where mind cannot be replaced
by another word); push the boat out( take risks) etc.
Type 3 : verb + particle (intransitive)

General characteristics:
a. The verbs in this category are intransitive, that is they cannot be followed
by an object:

Hazel is out.
We set off early.

b. Passive constructions are not possible.

c. The same combination of verb + particle can sometimes belong to Type 2

(with an object: We broke down the fence.) and Type 3 (without an
object: The car broke down.)

d. Nouns can be formed from verbs of this type, e.g.: a climb-down, a

dropout, an outbreak, an onlooker.

Two sub-groups can be identified:

Non-phrasal verbs with obvious meanings (free association).Verbs in this group

can be used with literal meanings.
Combinations with be are common, but occur with many other verbs, often in the
imperative, e.g. hurry along, go away, sit down, keep on, drive over.
The strengthening effect can apply to some of these verbs too, as in hurry up,
move out, etc.

Type 3 with idiomatic meanings.

The verbs in this category often have little or no relation to their literal meanings,
e.g. break down (collapse), die away (become quiet), pull up (stop when driving
a car), turn up (appear unexpectedly).

Mrs. Sims broke down completely when she heard the news.
The bus pulled up sharply at the traffic lights.
The echo died away in the distance.
Harry turned up after the party when everyone had left.

Type 4: verb + particle + preposition (transitive)

General characteristics:

a. These are three-part verbs (e.g. put up with)

They are transitive because they end up with prepositions and must therefore be
followed by an object:

I don`t know how you put up with these conditions.

Some of these verbs take a personal object: take someone up on something

(pursue a suggestion someone has made):

May I take you up on your offer to put me up for the night?

b. Some verbs can go into the passive and others cannot:

All the old regulations were done away with. (passive)

I find it difficult to keep up with you. (no passive)

c. Two-part nouns can be formed from some three-part verbs, e.g. :

someone who stands in for someone is a stand-in.

Two sub-groups can be identified:

Non-phrasal verbs with obvious meanings (free association)

Three-part combinations, which can be used with their literal meanings are
common, e.g. come down from, drive on to , hurry over to , run along to ,
stay away from , walk up to , etc.

After stopping briefly in Reading, we drove on to Oxford.

Type 4 verbs with idiomatic meanings

The verbs in this category often have little or no relation to their literal meanings,
e.g. put up with (tolerate), run out of (use up). Unlike the free association
verbs above, there is no choice in the preposition that can be used after the
particle: each verb conveys a single, indivisible meaning:

I`m not prepared to put up with these conditions any longer.

We`re always running out of matches in our house.

Chapter IV

Metaphor and Verb Phrases

4.1 What is a metaphor?

The meanings of phrasal verbs are often difficult to remember, because they seem
to have no connection with the words they consist of. In fact, many phrasal verbs
are metaphorical, and if you understand the metaphors they use, it will be easier
to understand and remember their meanings.

If we look at these pairs of sentences:

The dog dug up an old bone.

We dug up some interesting facts.
The planes were shot down.
Each proposal was shot down.
Burglars had broken into the house while they were away.
She broke into his conversation.

we see that, in each pair, the first phrasal verb has a literal meaning and refers to a
physical action, while the second is metaphorical and describes an action that is
similar in some way to the first. For example, when someone digs up
information, they discover it, and the process seems similar to the way in which
dogs find bones that have been buried in the ground.

Some phrasal verbs only have metaphorical meanings. For example to breeze in
means to enter a place confidently, without seeming to care what other people
think; perhaps the attitude and action remind us of the movement of a breeze ( a
light wind).

Similarly, to rope someone in means to persuade someone to do something that

they do not really want to do: perhaps it reminds us of the way in which people
use ropes to catch animals or to collect them together.

When the verb part of a phrasal verb is used in a metaphorical way, this is usually
quite obvious. But the particles may be used metaphorically too. This is less easy
to recognize, but in fact there is often a clear connection between the literal
meanings of the particle and its metaphorical use.

In English, like many other languages, the basic, literal meanings of adverbs and
prepositions refer to direction, position in space, distance, or extent:

up - literally describes movement towards a higher position

down literally describes movement towards a lower position
ahead literally describes movement towards a position in front of you

The metaphorical uses of these particles develop from the literal ones:

up has metaphorical meanings to do with increases in size, number or

down has metaphorical uses to do with decreases in size, number or strength
ahead has metaphorical uses to do with a point in the future

4.2 Metaphorical use of idioms

The field of linguistics has exported a number of big ideas to the world. They
include the evolution of languages as an inspiration to Darwin for the evolution of
species; the analysis of contrasting sounds as an inspiration for structuralism in
literary theory and anthropology; the Whorfian hypothesis that language shapes
thought; and Chomsky`s theory of deep structure and universal grammar. Even by
these standards, George Lakoff`s theory of conceptual metaphor is lollapalooza. If
Lakoff is right, his theory can do everything from overturning millenia of
misguided thinking in the Western intellectual tradition to putting a Democrat in
the White House ( as Steven Pinker metaphorically put it).Is it true that all of us,
not just poets, speak in metaphors, whether we realize it or not? Is it perhaps even
true that we live by metaphors?

In Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff, a linguist, and Mark Johnson, a

philosopher, suggest that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and
interesting but that they actually structure our perception and understanding.

Thinking of marriage as a contract agreement, for example, leads to one set of

expectations, while thinking of it as a team play, a negotiated settlement,
Russian roulette, an indissoluble merger, or a religious sacrament will carry
different sets of expectations.

Metaphor is for most people a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary

language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language
alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most
people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. It has been
found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in
language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of
which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.

The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They
also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our
concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how
we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in
defining our everyday realities. But our conceptual system is not something we
are normally aware of. In most of the little things we do every day, we simply
think and act more or less automatically along certain lines. Just what these lines
are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since
communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking
and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what the system is

Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, it has been found out that most of
our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. A very subtle case of
how a metaphorical concept can hide an aspect of our experience can be seen in
what Michael Reddy has called the conduit metaphor. Reddy observes that our
language about language is structured roughly by the following complex



The speaker put ideas (objects) into words (containers) and sends them ( along a
conduit) to the bearer who takes the ideas / objects out of the words / containers.
Reddy documents this with more than a hundred types of expressions in English,
which he estimates to account for at least 70 per cent of the expressions we use
for talking about language. Here are some examples:


It`s hard to get that idea across to him.

Your reasons came through to us.
It`s difficult to put my ideas into words.
You can`t simply stuff ideas into a sentence any old way.
Don`t force your meanings into the wrong words.

In examples like these it is difficult to see that there is anything hidden by the
metaphor or even to see that there is a metaphor here at all. This is so much the
conventional way of thinking about language that it is sometimes hard to imagine
that it might not fit reality. But if we look at what the conduit metaphor entails,

we can see some of the ways in which it masks aspects of the communication


aspect of the conduit metaphor entails that words and sentences have meanings in
themselves, independent of any context or speaker. The MEANINGS ARE
OBJECTS part of metaphor, for example, entails that meanings have an existence
independent of people and contexts. These metaphors are appropriate in many
situations those where context differences don`t matter and where all the
participants in the conversation understand the sentences in the same way.

The meaning is right then in the words which, according to the CONDUIT
metaphor, can correctly be said of any sentence.

On the other hand, metaphorical concepts can be extended beyond the range of
ordinary literal ways of thinking and taking into the range of what is called
figurative, poetic, colorful, or fanciful thought and language. Thus, if ideas are
objects, we can dress them up in fancy clothes, juggle them, line them up nice and
neat, etc. So, when we say that a concept is structured by a metaphor, we mean
that it is partially structured and that it can be extended in some ways but no


So far we have examined what we will call structural metaphors, cases where one
concept is metaphorically structured in terms of another. But there is another kind
of metaphorical concept, one that does not structure one concept in terms of
another, but instead organizes a whole system of concepts with respect to one
another. We will call these orientational metaphors since most of them have to
do with spatial orientation: up-down, in-out, front-back, on-off, .

Orientational metaphors give a concept of spatial orientation, e.g. happy is

up. The fact that the concept happy is oriented up leads to English
expressions like I`m feeling up today.

Such metaphorical orientations are not arbitrary. They have a basis in our physical
and cultural experience. Though the polar oppositions up-down, in-out, etc. are
physical in nature, the orientational metaphors based on them vary from culture to
culture. For example, in some cultures, the future is in front of us, whereas in
others, it is back.

4.3 Sets of metaphors

1. Increasing and decreasing: DOWN, OUT, UP

UP expresses ideas of increase in size, strength or importance, while DOWN

expresses ideas of something becoming smaller, weaker, or less important.

Fees have gone up again.

She`s doing some teaching in the evenings to bump up her income.
The search operation has been scaled down.
The government played down the threat to public health.

OUT expresses ideas of something becoming wider or fuller, covering a greater

extent, or lasting for a longer time.

Officers fanned out across the field.

Her stories flesh out the world in which these historical characters lived.
They had to string things out until the Duke arrived.

2. Excitement, interest and happiness : DOWN, UP

Some phrasal verbs with up refer to things becoming more exciting, lively, or
interesting, or to people becoming happier. Phrasal verbs with down refer to
things becoming quieter or calmer, or to people becoming more unhappy.

Things are looking up. Cheer up!

This place needs livening up!
Calm down!
You need to tone down your argument.
The endless wet weather was getting me down.

3. Completeness : UP

UP expresses an idea of completeness. For example, to burn up means to burn

completely, and to wind sth. up means to bring it to complete end.

They gobbled up their dinner,

Don`t use up all the paper.
The speaker had begun to sum up.
All the shops had closed up for the night.

4. Ending : AWAY, DOWN, OFF, OUT

When something ends, we can think of it as gradually going farther away until it
completely disappears. In phrasal verbs, away, down, off and out all express
ideas of something gradually ending.

Her voice faded away.

I suddenly felt sorry for him and my anger melted away.
The meeting wound down.
The rain eased off.
The effects of the drug wore off.
The conversation soon petered out.
The custom has almost died out.

5. Time past and future: AHEAD, BACK, BEHIND, FORWARD.

Metaphors relating to time are often based on the idea that time is like a line that
goes from the past to the future, with the past behind us and the future in front of

Phrasal verbs with ahead and forward express ideas of the future, while phrasal
verbs with back and behind express ideas of the past.

What lies ahead?

Let`s think ahead to next season.
I`ve put my watch forward one hour.
The house dates back to the 16th century.
Never look back, never have regrets.


Making progress and achieving things is like being on a journey and moving
towards your destination. Phrasal verbs with along describe the kind of progress
that is being made, while phrasal verbs with ahead and behind express ideas of
making good progress or bad progress.

The building work was coming along nicely.

They`re content to just muddle along.
He needs to get ahead.
They`re pressing ahead with the reforms.
I`ve fallen behind with my work.
We`re lagging behind our competitors.

Phrasal verbs with through describe the process of achieving something or
dealing with work.

He has no ability to carry through.

She sailed through her exams.
I ploughed through the work.
Phrasal verbs with on express the idea of continuing with an activity or task: on
here has he same meaning with onwards.
I can`t carry on.
They kept on until it was finished.

7. Getting involved in an activity: AWAY, IN, INTO, OUT.

We think of activities as if they have physical dimensions, like areas or spaces. In

phrasal verbs, in and into express the idea of getting involved, while away and
out express the idea of avoiding or ending an involvement.

We joined in the fun.

You`re always trying to muscle in.
They shied away from commitment.
You can`t walk away from the relationship.
He bowed out gracefully.


We think of problems and difficulties as if they are physical objects that get in our
way. Some phrasal verbs have meanings to do with ignoring problems or
behaving as if they do not exist. The metaphorical idea is that we go around or
over the things that are in our way, or we push them further away.

They skirted around the issue.

We`ll work round the problem somehow.
He brushed aside my objections.
I laughed off his criticisms.
We couldn`t shake off the allegations.
I tried to smooth things over between them.

9. Power and weakness: DOWN, OVER, UNDER, UP

When one person has power and controls another, we think of the first person as
being in a higher position than the second. Some phrasal verbs with over and up
express ideas of someone being in control, or becoming more powerful than
someone else. Phrasal verbs with down and under express ideas of someone
being forced into a weaker position, or of being controlled or restricted.

The Emperor ruled over a vast area.
She`s been moved up to a more responsible job.
The police clamped down on drinking in the streets.
The rebellion was swiftly put down.
We had to knuckle under and do what we were told.

10. Relationships: APART, OFF, TOGETHER, UP

Relationships are like physical connections. Some phrasal verbs with together
refer to a close relationship between two people or groups, while the ones with
apart refer to the ending of a relationship.

We got together in our first year at college.

The whole group clubbed together to buy him a present.
They drifted apart over the years.

Phrasal verbs with up refer to people forming a new relationship, or to a person

joining a group.

Two students from each class pair up to produce a short play.

They feel that the international community is ganging up on them.
He has been accused of cosying up to the new US president.

However, some combinations with up and a verb meaning break refer to the
ending of a relationship.

He`s just broken up with his girlfriend.

Her parents split up a few months ago.
A few phrasal verbs with off refer to a new relationship between two people. The
metaphorical idea is that the two people come together and become separate from
a larger group.
All our friends seem to be pairing off.
They tried to marry their daughter off to a wealthy businessman.

11. Communication; ACROSSS, BETWEEN, FORTH, IN, INTO, OUT,


We think of communication between two people as a connection between them,

with information passing from one to the other, often across a large space.

I don`t know how to put it across.

I don`t seem to be able to get through to them.
The message came over clearly.

Something passed between them.

When one person says something, their words seem to leave them physically.
When they are told something, the message or information seems to enter them.

She poured out her problems.

I blurted out his name.
Dave was holding forth on the subject of politics.
My parents drummed its importance into us.

12. Information and knowledge : INTO, OUT, UP

We think of things that are not yet known, or that other people may not want us to
know, as if they are in a container, or covered, or buried. Phrasal verbs with into
describe the process of trying to find information from someone or something.

I wrote a letter of complaint and the airline promised to look into the matter.
She delved into his past.
You don`t want them nosing into your finances.

Some phrasal verbs with out and up express ideas of revealing secrets or finding
information, as if they are uncovered or brought to the surface.

She tried not to tell them, but in the end she let it out.
I wormed the information out of him.
We dug up some interesting facts.
They raked up some scandal from his university days.


Learners and verb phrases

It is well known that phrasal verbs are a challenging area of English-language

learning and teaching. Here are some of the main problems that learners
experience when they try to use phrasal verbs in their own speech and writing.
The focus is on combinations of high-frequency verbs, with which learners ought
to be familiar (such as go, take, put, give) with:

- adverbial particles such as up, in, out, off, down, through

- prepositional particles such as at, for, to with.

There are two types of evidence that help with understanding the kinds of
problems that learners have when they use phrasal verbs.
These are :
. experimental data, such as translation tests or multiple choice tests in which
learners have to select the most appropriate verb ( phrasal verb or single-word
verb) to fill in a gap or sentence.
. computer learner corpora, which are electronic collections of spoken or written
texts produced by learners ( such as essays or transcribed conversations ).
On the basis of this evidence, we can identify a number of issues that seem to
cause problems for many learners.

A. Phrasal verbs formed with adverbial particles

The following main problems have been highlighted in relation to phrasal verbs
of this type:
1. avoidance
2. style deficiency
3. semantic confusion
4. lack of collocation awareness
5. using idiosyncratic phrasal verbs
6. syntactic errors

1. Avoidance

The evidence suggests that learners who lack phrasal verbs in their mother tongue
tend to avoid using phrasal verbs in English for fear of making mistakes. This
doesn`t mean that they don`t use phrasal verbs at all, but rather that they use
fewer phrasal verbs and more single-word verbs than native speakers of English
performing similar tasks. Moreover, many multiword verbs carry more than one
meaning. Thus, learners who are familiar with the meaning of turn down as in

He turned down the radio. , have problems interpreting the meaning of
He turned her down. (rejected her)

It has been found that it is best to deal with the meaning of the verb that is salient
in the text. If the meaning of the verb in focus is to reject, then, it is this
meaning that has to be taught, without going into other possible meanings. This
approach seems to be clearer and less confusing for students.

Richards states that Knowing a word means knowing its different meanings
(polysemy). That is certainly our aim in teaching, but we must realize that such
competence requires time.

It is only through reading, exposing learners to texts rich in multi-word verbs that
learners will become lexically competent. The learner must be allowed to be
vague about meaning at first; precision will come later. (Judd, quoted in Carter
and McCarthy).

Many multi-word verbs carry a literal meaning, e.g. sit down, stand up , though
many have a non-literal meaning, e.g. I picked up quite a bit of Spanish on
holiday last year.

If presented through texts, learners can sometimes interpret their meanings quite
accurately, picking up clues from the theme of the text and the co-text, but
isolated or even heard or read at sentence level, that can be very confusing for the

2. Style deficiency

Learner corpus research has shown that EFL learners tend to be stylistically
deficient, that is, they appear to be largely unaware of the differences between
informal speech and formal writing. Their formal writing sometimes contains
speech-like features, whereas their informal spoken language often sounds rather
formal and bookish. Learners` use of phrasal verbs is no exception to this.

Phrasal verbs are often presented as characteristic of informal spoken English.

Although this is an oversimplification (phrasal verbs can be found even in the
most formal types of texts), it is nevertheless true that native speakers of English
use approximately half as many phrasal verbs in formal writing as in informal
speech. EFL learners, on the other hand, have a tendency to use more phrasal
verbs in formal writing than in informal speech. What is more, learners can also
be seen to use phrasal verbs that are not typically associated with formal writing.

Consider the following examples from learners` formal essays:

The state in its turn is responsible for its citizens` well-being and must help out
when needed.
.. many people are constantly getting away from tradition, religion and moral
The Swedish well-meaning immigration policy is sometimes stopping people
from getting into the society.

Besides style deficiency, one of the possible reasons why learners tend to use
more phrasal verbs in writing than in speech is that a writing task usually gives
learners more time to plan and encode their messages, and actually consider the
possibility of using a group of verbs that they are generally not very comfortable
or confident about using.

3. Semantic confusion

By far the most common errors made by learners when using phrasal verbs are
semantic errors, reflecting an incomplete understanding of the meaning of the
phrasal verbs.

Learners confuse phrasal verbs and single-word verbs whose meanings are

He has to find out (discover) new means to fight against them.

Students couldn`t put on (wear) a scarf in winter.
He will find out (find) that the number of conventional families decreases.
Procedures must be taken in order not to let the disease spread out (spread).
The impulse to build up (build) also springs from the need.
because infants grow (grow up) surrounded by them.
because sometimes he`s like an actor: he dresses (dresses up) as different

Learners use the right verb but the wrong particle:

They fill up (fill in) many forms.

It is a task which must be carried on (carried out) using the brain.
Sect members are told to refrain from talking to their parents and keep out (keep
away) from their friends.

Learners use the right particle but the wrong verb:

We tried to come back to (go back to) Los Angeles.

Saddam Hussein had the power to shut off (turn off) the heat in millions of

The meaning of some particles, e.g. up, on, in can also cause problems as
sometimes the particles can share meaning across a large number, but not all,
multi-word verbs. For instance, the particle up is often aid to express the idea of
increase, as in grow up, heat up, hurry up, cheer up, but this idea can not be
applied to the verb split up for example.

Many exercises exist which focus on particles and sensitize learners to the shared
meaning of a group. These have been found to be of value in increasing student`s
confidence in dealing with phrasal verbs, as they feel as though they have a tool
with which to help them unlock the meaning of previously incomprehensible

As long as the teacher highlights the fact that the generalized meaning of the
particle in question is not the same with all multi-word verbs, then these exercises
can be useful in facilitating understanding of multi-word verbs, thus aiding
memory and ultimately production.

4. Lack of collocational awareness

Studies have shown that learners lack collocational awareness, that is, they tend
to be unaware of the preferred relationship that exist between some words. Some
words belong together with other words and occur more naturally with these
words rather than with other words with the same meaning.

For example, if you`re using a camera, you do not make a picture, but you take
a picture. You do not say that scientists made an experiment, but they
conducted or carried out an experiment. Let`s consider the following examples
involving phrasal verbs:

Even the majority of teachers also cut down pupils` creativity either in their
lessons or in their exams.
Religion was also a means of calming down eventual revolts and unrests.
..teaching them moral values and preparing to set up their own families.

Native speakers of English would normally talk about stifling creativity, quelling
revolts / unrests, and starting a family.

McCarthy says that collocation is a marriage contract between words, and some
words are more firmly married to each others than others. Thus, to call off, for
example, collocates strongly with match, i.e.
The match was called off due to the rain.

and it also collocates strongly with engagement, wedding, meeting.

Students often understand the meaning, i.e. cancel, and they attempt to apply it to
other nouns with which it in fact has no relationship.
For example, I called off my English class. sounds strange to L1 speakers, as
generally we can only call off events which have been specifically arranged, or
that are of a unique, one off nature.

I try to raise students` awareness of collocations by asking them to underline the

nouns which follow certain verbs and then later filling in a collocational grid,
matching multi-word verbs to their common collocations, e.g.

Call off, set up, put off = a meeting

Alternatively, collocation bingo works well, as learners have a set of nouns on a

card, which they cross off according to whether they think they collocate with the
phrasal verb which is read out.

Odd one out tasks are also very useful as students are involved in a deeper level
of processing, discussing why certain words don`t combine.

Most of all, though, it is through the language which occurs in the classroom , that
students can really see how the relationship between words matter, provided the
teacher draws attention to this.

5. Using idiosyncratic phrasal verbs

Learners sometimes use phrasal verbs that do not actually exist in English, either
because they mix up verbs, they use the wrong verb or particle, or possibly also
because they feel the need to create a new phrasal verb containing a verb and a
particle to cover a gap in the language.

These differences need to be levelled down (ironed out).

People who decide to marry are usually more responsible and they trust each
other more because they know that in case of problems they do not just split
apart (split up).

6. Syntactic errors

The evidence shows that learners sometimes make syntactic errors involving
transitive phrasal verbs being used intransitively, and vice versa:

The state should help parents to grow up better generations.
He or she begins to look for another love, splitting up the relationship.


I grew up in the countryside. (intransitive)

Bringing up children (helping them to grow up) is not always easy.
Jane and Shane have split up. (intransitive)
They`ve ended their relationship. (transitive)

In responding to these problems of form, teachers can either focus on the rules or
adopt a more incidental learning approach. The latter consists of exposing learners
lots of examples, preferably in short contexts which demonstrate their syntactic
behavior. Reading is considered a key means to vocabulary improvement, and
research suggests that just using a language can be a potent way to learn it, even
without explicit focus on linguistic forms.

7. Pronunciation

Research shows that words which are difficult to pronounce are more difficult to
learn. Phrasal verbs are not too problematic for learners in terms of pronunciation,
though misplaced word stress is a common error. Students are frequently reluctant
to give stress to particles. In the sentence

We did the kitchen up.

kitchen is stressed, though when we substitute the noun for a pronoun
We did it up.
the stress falls on the adverbial particle.

One way of helping learners is by using graphics, such as stress boxes (a small
black square) on the board, and getting them to mark the stress above the words
or syllables in the whole sentence and to practice reading it aloud.

B. Phrasal verbs formed with prepositional particles

Phrasal verbs with prepositional particles (also called prepositional verbs) are a
particularly frequent source of errors, even at an upper-intermediate and advanced
level. The major source of errors include:

1. The influence of the learner`s mother tongue

2. Intralingual confusion
3. Style deficiency

1. The influence of the learner`s mother tongue

The learner is unaware that a verb is a prepositional verb in English, as it is not a

prepositional verb in their mother tongue:

I would also like to comment (comment on) the second part of the title.
We don`t have enough money to pay (to pay for) a flight.
I am used to using computers or listening (listening to) the radio.

The verb is a prepositional verb in English and in the learner`s mother tongue, but
the prepositional particles differ and are not direct translational equivalents:

While the others tried to participate to (participate in) our discussions.

Athletes that have the honor to participate at (in) these Olympic games.
And that means to concentrate more in the national policy than in (on) the
European one.
It depends of (on) our mental image of the matter.

The learner is unaware that, although a verb is a prepositional verb in their mother
tongue, it is not a prepositional verb in English:

And at the same time he is courting to (courting) a lady.

2. Intralingual confusion

Sometimes an English verb can take more than one prepositional particle (with
different meanings), and the learner confuses the two:

The group consists in (of) five students (= is made up of five students).

Religious alienation consisted of (in) the idea that religion send out the man
outside of the real (= has this idea as its most important or only aspect).
Only a few years back I felt that very few people seemed to care for ( about) the
world we live in ( =be interested in it and think it is important).

An English verb is not a prepositional verb, but the derived noun is used with a
preposition. For example, you discuss something but you have a discussion
about something; you doubt something but you have doubts about
something; you contact someone but you are in contact with someone:

A general feeling of emptiness prompted some students to doubt about (doubt)

the value of their university degrees.
Shaw doubts about (doubts) the existence of miracles and saints.

Children, in fact, must be trained to discuss about (discuss) violent events as well
as about the happy ones they experience.
We must contact with (contact) people in other countries.

An English verb is used both as a prepositional verb and as a verb that does not
require the use of a preposition. The two forms have different meanings, and
learners sometimes confuse them.

You go to the university, attend to (attend = go to) classes but you don`t learn
anything about real world.
Once, a shop assistant refused to attend (attend to = serve) her.
Some societies don`t approve (approve of = think it is right or suitable) a single
unmarried woman with a child.

Compare: Parliament approved the budget (accepted it officially).

In such cases, lying cannot be approved (approved of) and regarded as right.

An English verb is used as a prepositional verb, but learners fail to realize that the
particle to is a preposition and not the infinitive particle:

She had consented to marry (consented to marrying) him only after he had
conducted a thorough search.
However, last year the Queen finally consented to pay (consented to paying)
taxes and she will open Buckingham Palace to visitors.
So when women prove their skills, men object to appreciate (object to
appreciating) them and give (giving) them their due.
While they wouldn`t object to have (object to having) an ex-burglar work for

3. Style deficiency

Learners sometimes use, in formal writing, prepositional verbs that are not
typically associated with this type of text.

Their communities ought to organize meetings to talk about (discuss) the

But the English version of the treaty talked about (mentioned) land ownership.
The problem that I`m interested in and I want to speak about (discuss) is the
death penalty.

Chapter VI

Methods and approaches

Teaching vocabulary

Vocabulary is the knowledge of words and word meanings. As Steven Stahl (2005
) puts it, Vocabulary knowledge is knowledge; the knowledge of a word not only
implies a definition, but also implies how that word fits into the world.
Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is
something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime.

Our students will be more successful if we match our teaching style to their
learning styles.
Ellis (1985) described a learning style as the more or less consistent way in which
a person perceives, conceptualizes, organizes and recalls information. Our
students` learning styles will be influenced by their genetic make-up, their
previous learning experiences, their culture and the society they live in.

Sue Davidoff and Owen van den Berg (1990) suggest four steps: plan, teach/act,
observe and reflect. Here are some guidelines for each step.
Students learn better and more quickly if the teaching methods used match their
preferred learning styles.
As learning improves, so too does self-esteem. This has a further positive effect
on learning.
Students who have become bored with learning may become interested once
The student-teacher relationship can improve because the student is more
successful and is more interested in learning.

There are many ways of looking at learning styles. Here are some of the
classification systems that researchers have developed.

The four modalities

(Dr`s Bandler, R. and Grinder, J., The Field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming)

Students may prefer a visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (moving) or

tactile(touching) way of learning.

Those who prefer a visual learning style:

. look at the teacher`s face intently
. like looking at wall displays, books, etc
. often recognize words by sight
. use lists to organize their thoughts
. recall information by remembering how it was sent out on a page

Those who prefer an auditory learning style

. like the teacher to provide verbal instructions
. like dialogues, discussions and plays
. solve problems by talking about them
. use rhythm and sound as memory aids

Those who prefer a kinesthetic learning style

. learn best when they are involved or active
. find it difficult to sit for long periods
. use movement as a memory aid

Those who prefer a tactile way of learning

. use writing and drawing as memory aids
. learn well in hands-on activities like projects and demonstrations

Field-independent vs. Field-dependent

Field-independent students can easily separate important details from complex or

confusing background. They tend to rely on themselves and their own thought-
system when solving problems. They are not so skilled in interpersonal
relationships. Field-dependent students find it more difficult to see parts in a
complex whole. They rely on others` ideas when solving problems and are good
at interpersonal relationships.

Left-brain dominated vs. right-brain dominated

Students who are left-brain dominated. are intellectual

. process information in a linear way
. tend to be objective
. prefer established, certain information
. rely on language in thinking and remembering

Those who are right-brain dominated

. are intuitive
. process information in a holistic way
. tend to be subjective
. prefer elusive, uncertain information
. rely on drawing and manipulating to help them think and learn

McCarthy`s four learning styles

McCarthy (1980) described students as innovative learners, analytic learners,

common sense learners or dynamic learners.

Innovative learners
. look for personal meaning while learning
. draw on their values while learning
. enjoy social interaction
. are cooperative
. want to make the world a better place

Analytical learners
. want to develop intellectually while learning
. draw on facts while learning
. want to know important things and to add to the world`s knowledge

Common sense learners

. want to find solutions
.value things if they are useful
. are kinesthetic
. are practical and straightforward
. want to make thins happen

Dynamic learners
. look for hidden possibilities
. judge thins by gut reactions
. synthetise information from different sources
. are enthusiastic and adventurous

Teaching methods and activities that suit different learning styles:

The Four Modalities

Visual use many visuals in the classroom. For example, wall displays posters,
realia, flash cards, etc.
Auditory use audio tapes and videos, storytelling, songs, memorization and
drills. Allow learners to work in small groups regularly.
Kinesthetic use physical activities, competitions, board games, role plays, etc.
Intersperse activities which require students to sit quietly with activities that allow
them to move around and be active
Tactile use board and card games, demonstrations, projects, role plays, etc. Use
while-listening activities and reading activities. For example, ask students to fill
in a table while listening to a talk.

Field-independent vs. field-dependent

Field-independent let students work on some activities on their own.

Field-dependent let students work on some activities in pairs and small groups.

Left-brain vs. right-brain dominated

Left-brained dominated:
-give verbal instructions and explanations
-set some closed tasks to which the students can discover the right answer.
Right-brain dominated:
-write instructions as well as giving them verbally
-demonstrate what you would like students to do
-give students clear guide lines for tasks
-set some open-ended tasks for which there is no right answer
-use realia and other things that students can manipulate while learning

MacCarthy`s four learning styles

Innovative learners:
-use cooperative learning activities and activities in which students must make
value judgements
-ask students to discuss their opinions and beliefs

Analytical learners:
-teach students the facts

Common sense learners:

-use problem-solving activities

Dynamic learners:
-ask students about their feelings

Use a variety of challenging activities.

By varying the activities that we use in the lesson, we are sure to cater for learners
with different learning styles at least some of the time.

In the context of learning English as a foreign language, a learner is forced to be

autonomous and independent and make conscious efforts to learn vocabulary out
of the classroom simply because the exposure to the target language is limited in
class. So teachers cannot rely on their students picking up lexical items . This

makes explicit vocabulary teaching necessary. However, teaching idiomatic
phrasal verbs is notoriously difficult if not impossible to teach because of the
complexity of its linguistic, semantic and psycho-cognitive aspects. How can
teachers help learners?
First of all, ways of presenting new vocabulary should be varied. In order to
improve the efficiency of vocabulary learning (memorizing and retrieving lexical
items) students should be encouraged to make use of learning strategies that are
at their disposal, and be taught, either implicitly or explicitly, new strategies for
vocabulary learning.

According to Pavicic (1999) strategies can be divided into four groups:

1. Self-initiated independent learning

These strategies involve planned, active and motivated learning exposure to

language outside the classroom (media).
Examples of strategies:
- phrasal verbs grouping
- making notes of vocabulary while reading for pleasure/watching TV
- word cards/leafing through a dictionary
- planning
- recording and listening
- regular revision

2. Formal practice

These strategies promote systematic learning and vocabulary practice. The aim is
accurate reproduction and is often connected to the tasks of formal instruction.
Examples of strategies:
- loud repetition
- bilingual dictionary
- testing oneself
- noting new items in class

3. Functional practice

These strategies are based on context as a vocabulary source. They also include
exposure to language, but without making a conscious effort (incidental learning).
They also have a social aspect, i.e. interaction.
Examples of strategies:
- remembering phrasal verbs while watching TV/reading
- using known phrasal verbs in context
- looking for definitions
- listening to songs and trying to understand

- using phrasal verbs in conversations
- practice with friends

4. Memorizing

This group includes a number of memory strategies based on inter-, intra-lingual

and visual associations.

Examples of strategies:
- using pictures, illustrations
- associations with L1

But yet, by far the most important vocabulary strategy is to guess unknown
words from context.

When we learned our first language, most of the words were not taught to us, we
picked them up from books, the TV and from conversations. There is not enough
time to teach thousands of words one by one in class, so language learners must
also know how to guess unknown words successfully.

The first thing to do when a learner meets a new phrasal verb is to ignore it. If it is
important it will come again. If they meet the phrasal verb a second time and
communication breaks down, then they should try and guess its meaning. If they
have any idea, they should try to substitute their guess into the sentence to see if
the meaning of the sentence is clear.

However, it is vital to understand that, when teaching learners to guess words

from the context they will not be able to guess successfully until they know about
95-98% of the other words in the text. If the text is too difficult, then a large
number of unknown words and phrases will make successful guessing much less
likely. Therefore it is wise not to start teaching this strategy too early in the
learning process, because the learners will not know enough other words to guess
successfully. Starting too early leads to too much failure and can reinforce the
idea that word learning is difficult.

Practical activities

Here is a selection of practical activities that direct learners towards using

strategies of vocabulary learning.

The useful alphabet (self-initiated independent learning)

Each student gets a letter and has to find about 5 phrasal verbs s/he thinks would
be useful for them. They then report to the class, perhaps as a mingle activity,

using word cards (on one side they write the letter, on the other side they write
information on the phrasal verb spelling, pronunciation, definition).

Word bag (formal practice)

This is to get students to write down new words they hear in class. At the
beginning of the semester divide students into groups of about 5 and give each
group a number (e.g.1-6). Give each group about 10 cards on which they write the
number of their group and the new phrasal verbs they hear in class. At the end of
each class they put their cards into the word bag and every 2 weeks you check
whether they still know those phrasal verbs and which group has the most cards,
and the one that knows more words.

Especially for you (functional practice)

The teacher prepares a list of phrasal verbs. Each student gets one phrasal verb
which is prepared especially for him or her. The trick is that each student gets a
phrasal verb whose initial letter is the same as the initial of the student`s first
name, e.g. Laura gets laugh at yourself. Each student must look it up in the
dictionary during the class and after a few minutes report to the class.
E.g. My name is Laura and I think it is important to be able to laugh at yourself.
That means that I am.(definition).For homework students can do the same
using their surname.

Word tour (memorizing)

Instruction for students: Think of a town or city you know well. Imagine that you
are organizing a sightseeing tour. Think of 5 places you would include in your
tour and write down the order in which the tourists would visit them. Learn your
tour off by heart so that you can picture it in your mind. Whenever you have 5
new phrasal verbs to learn, imagine these are the tourists on your tour and picture
the phrasal verbs in the places on your tour like this.
Tour: Trafalgar Square; Buckingham Palace; Houses of Parliament; Westminster
Abbey; Downing Street. Phrasal verbs to learn: shut oneself up, see out (the Old
Year), fall under, gut it on, screw up (the courage). Imagine Nelson on his
column in Trafalgar Square screwing up the courage to ask the queen out, the
queen shutting herself up in her room to see out the Old Year..

Lexical exploitation of texts

Reading and listening texts are often used in ELT classroom to practice receptive
skills and /or as an introduction to a topic or language point. However, authentic
and near-authentic texts are an excellent source of collocations and other lexical
chunks (phrasal verbs in our case), and it is worth spending a little extra time on a

text to draw learners` attention to these. An adult native-speaker has hundreds of
thousands pre-constructed chunks at his disposal. Students need to be trained to
record and learn chunks, rather than individual words, to enhance their fluency
and produce more natural-sounding language.
If learners understand a chunk in context, they may not notice it. For example,
most intermediate students would understand the phrase hold your head up, but
very few at this level will produce it. By drawing learners` attention to chunks, we
can help them use the words they already know more accurately and to express a
wider range of ideas. Exploiting reading and listening texts for lexical chunks:
The following activities can be used after exploiting a text for meaning, for
example, after learners answer comprehension questions or do a matching
exercise based on the text.


- Give learners the tapescript with some key phrasal verbs blanked out. They
listen again and complete the spaces.
- Listening texts can also be used to provide a model for pronunciation, for
example, the stress of phrasal verbs. Ask learners to identify the stress and drill
the phrases.
- Songs are a useful lexical resource. Before listening, give learners the words of a
song with some phrasal verbs that have either the preposition /particle or the verb
blanked out. Ask them to work in pairs to predict the words missing from each


- Prepare a table which includes half or part of some of the multi-word verbs in a
text. Learners then scan the text to complete the table with the other part of the
phrasal verbs.
- Short texts can be used to prepare for and practice reading aloud. Pauses
normally come at the end of the phrase, while content words are stressed. If
learners mark pauses and stressed words, this will improve their reading aloud, as
well as helping them to notice chunks.
- Reading activities can also be used for consciousness-rising. After answering
comprehension questions, learners are asked to put the original text away, and are
given a new version with some of the phrases blanked out. Working in pairs, they
have to reconstruct the phrases, before checking with the original.

Recycling phrasal verbs

Learners are unlikely to remember phrasal verbs after seeing them just once, so it
will be necessary to recycle them in subsequent classes. Most traditional
vocabulary-recycling activities can be adapted for use with multi-word items, but
here are a few ideas:
- Give learners discussion questions including the phrasal verbs. Personalization
can make the language more memorable.
- Pelmanism, i.e. the memory game where learners have to find matching parts of
phrasal verbs from cards placed face- down on the table. They turn over two
cards, and keep them if they go together.
- Prepare a list of phrasal verbs recently seen in the class. Divide the class into
teams of 3-4 students, and give each team a piece of paper. Write a phrasal verb
from the list on the board. The first team to write a correct sentence including that
phrasal verb gets a point. Continue until you have exhausted the list, or until one
team reaches a specified number of points.
- A few minutes before the end of a class, ask learners working individually to
write down all the new phrasal verbs they have seen in that class. They can
compare together, or if there`s enough time, give definitions for their partner to
guess the phrasal verbs. This can also be done at the beginning of a class to
recycle language from the previous class.
It is important to be aware that this kind of development takes time and we won`t
see instant results. However, in the long term, working in this way can not only
increase our students` vocabulary, and the degree of accuracy with which they use
it, but it can also develop their abilities to notice patterns in language and so
become more autonomous learners.

Here is another range of approaches and methods that can be used to help

Focus on lexical verb
Lexical sets
Teaching through texts
One way of using texts in classroom


Traditional approaches to the teaching of multi-word verbs focus on the explicit

study of the item. Many ELT course books and grammars classify them into four
distinct types, depending on whether they are intransitive or transitive, i. e. verbs
that don`t take an object and verbs that do or if the verb and particle can be

separated or not. Students study the rules, and then attempt to match a number of
phrasal verbs (generally not linked thematically), to their appropriate type.
It has been found that occasionally, students, usually analytical learners, have
benefited from such an approach. The terminology can also aid students
resourceful enough to study in their own time, through the use of grammars and
Generally, however, some found this approach cumbersome. The learner is often
overburdened with terminology, and sheer wealth and complexity of the rules can
put students off using them. Too much classroom time becomes taken up with
grammar terminology, with little left to engage in real language use, such as
reading and speaking. The students spend time learning to use English rather
than using English to learn it. (Howatt)

Focus on lexical verb

Another approach is to group them according to the lexical verb:

run into
run over
run off
run away
run through
Exercises such as these are usually designed to test knowledge of the difference in
meaning between verbs in a group, through gap fill.

I --------- Simon in the cinema last night. (ran into)

These exercises are a test of meaning rather than form, but there is usually no
situational coherence. The lack of co-text in exercises such verbs. They lack
communicative purpose, and the students have no hooks with which to connect
the meaning to their own life. One way of making exercises such as these a little
more communicative is to set students the task of constructing sentences about
themselves, using these verbs, in an attempt to make the meaning real for them.

A further point regarding this type of grouping is that it can be very confusing for
students. It is only the particle which changes the meaning, but being confronted
with so many different particles, students easily confuse them, producing
sentences such as:

I need to run into my speech tonight. (run through)

I ran over Carmen in the supermarket yesterday. (run into)

Lexical sets

More recently, approaches have tended to group phrasal verbs into lexical sets.
Thus, they may include:

take off
do up
speed up
touch down, etc

Certain phrasal verb books group verbs in this way and have a number of
advantages. The verbs are presented through text, which make their meanings
clearer, and students can also use the co-text to work out the meanings. Such
cognitive engagement may also make the exercise more memorable.

Learners generally move sensibly from recognition to production and there is

usually a final exercise in which students get to personalize the verbs, by asking
each other questions.

However, again, the potential for confusion is high, when the lexical set contains
words of very similar a meaning. For instance, in a text about relationships,
which contained the verbs go out with, get on with, fall out, split up students
found that words of similar meaning interfered with each other, especially those
which had a similar form ,go out with and get on with.

Teaching through texts

A more natural approach perhaps, is to teach phrasal verbs as they occur in a text.
Language is used in context and is usually better learnt in context. In authentic
texts the relationship between the verbs is often looser, thereby reducing the
chances of confusion.

Furthermore, texts are not weighed down by complex explanation or

categorization, and thus more classroom time is devoted to authentic language

One way of using texts in the classroom.

A possible approach is to underline in a text all the phrasal verbs which you wish
students to notice. Then, in groups, ask them to try to divine their meanings. The
students will thus be able to use the co-text to help them.

Guessing a new word`s meaning from context is a key vocabulary learning skill
and Nation (1990) identifies it as one of the three principal strategies for handling

unknown vocabulary. Inferring from context is a difficult task, yet, The deeper
the decisions a task forces upon a learner, the superior the retention and recall

The next step is to move from recognition to production. The teacher sets up a
situation, and then asks students to make the phrasal verb their own by producing
a text along similar lines to the original. Thus, if the original text they read was an
advertisement for a gym for example, then ask them to write another
advertisement for a gym, but this time aimed especially at their classmates.

Carter and McCarthy emphasize the importance of learners finding

meaningfulness for themselves in words and in relationships between words they
encounter in texts. This personalization task will thus be more conducive to
successful vocabulary learning.

Teaching phrasal verbs while teaching authentic text construction

The main problem which arises when teaching authentic text construction is how
to encourage our students to create something orally or in writing on a particular
topic in the form of an authentic text. This is a challenging method and is
associated with higher mental processes which are indispensable while learning
and first of all in the creative sphere. It is them that impose the authentic character
of the texts which are created to present somebody`s views on a particular topic.

To be able to deal with the problem of constructing authentic texts, we should first
discriminate between activities which are intended to assure that students have
learnt what has been required from them so far, and activities whose chief aim is
students` spontaneous work. The former activities are associated with the
syntagmatic presentation of grammar rules and lexical items plus explanations.
The activities are mostly based on guided translations from Romanian into
English. Exercises of this type aim at preparing students to genuine text
construction. The latter activities, however, force students to make use of the
linguistic knowledge students have acquired during explanation period. The
teacher`s role in the process of formulating authentic texts is to minimize the
distance between explanation period and an authentic meaningful text.

Teachers may activate their students to construct various texts in many ways. For
instance, teachers may propose the content of a particular text, that is, they
provide the topic, certain grammatical structures and vocabulary items to be used
in a particular text. These are so-called predictable texts as the teacher knows
exactly what his students intend to say or write. However, these texts are not
included in the sphere of fully authentic texts as they are deprived of spontaneity.

For instance, teachers may ask their students to write the story of Cinderella
providing them with some helpful phrases like (a predictable text) :

- Cinderella`s mother dies. Her father decides to marry again.

- Her stepmother is cruel and her sisters are ugly and horrible.
- Everyone is invited to attend a ball at the palace.
- Cinderella can`t go to the ball. She has nothing to wear.
- Her fairy godmother appears and arranges for her to go to the ball.
- She dances with the prince. He falls in love with her.
- The shoe fits Cinderella. She marries the prince.

Students are to begin the story Once upon a time. and write it in the Simple
Past tense and end the story with.. and they lived happily ever after. There is
one more condition, namely, there is a list of Phrasal Verbs to be involved in the
composition including:
to make up one`s mind, to dress up, to tidy up, to clean up, to wear out, to get
into something (Workman: Phrasal Verbs and Idioms)

Although it is not a fully spontaneous exercise, it is worth recommending as

students have an opportunity to practice language through writing. By that is
meant that students can make a practice of Phrasal Verbs and the Simple Past.
Due to such exercises, teachers become certain whenever newly worked out
grammar structures and Phrasal Verbs are well stored in students` memory. In
practice, the exercise may have the following form:

Once upon a time there lived a girl called Cinderella. She had only a father
because her mother died when she was a very little girl. After a short period of
time Cinderella`s father made up his mind. He decided to marry again. He
married a cruel woman with two horrible and ugly daughters. Not very long after
the wedding the stepmother and her two daughters started to treat Cinderella very
badly. The poor girl had to do all the housework. She tidied everything up every
morning and cleaned up every room in the big house. Her clothes wore out very
quickly and were torn and dirty. And so it came, that the stepmother received a
letter from the royal palace which invited everybody to the ball. When the
stepsisters got to know about this, they started to discuss what to wear to the ball.
They couldn`t decide which dress to wear so Cinderella had to help them to
choose. When they dressed up and put on their clothes, they hurried to the ball
not waiting for Cinderella. Unfortunately, the poor girl had nothing to wear,

Teaching how to construct genuine texts aims at making students susceptible to

using more sophisticated language, its affluence in metaphorical expressions and
its complexities.

The method of creating texts is highly associated with the syntagmatic
presentation of grammar as we deal with a few grammar points and their
connections within a given text. The syntagmatic presentation displays the way
the text functions as one whole in a certain situation. It is also associated with
grammar and vocabulary and operates as a starting point to text creation process
in which students have an opportunity to see the collocation between particular
items and can see what kind of function particular items play in the text.

If we aim at teaching a few phrasal verbs to our students, we should present them
in many different real contexts so as to enable them to deduce their exact meaning
and to see whether they are transitive or intransitive, separable or inseparable. All
these items can be noticed by the students if phrasal verbs are presented in
authentic contexts.

Introducing phrasal verbs to elementary students tips and activities

Who says phrasal verbs are only for intermediate level students and up? This
lesson is for elementary or false beginners to introduce some common phrasal
verbs. It can be used with higher levels who are suffering from phrasal verb
anxiety and need to be reminded that it is not that difficult.

Aim: To introduce or (to review) 12 phrasal verbs common to the class

environment. To highlight the correct pronunciation of phrasal verbs.
Level: False beginners and elementary
Teaching approach

TPR (Total Physical Response) is a language teaching method which was first
developed by James Asher. With this method students learn the target language by
first listening and responding physically to the spoken requests of the teacher.
Later, students produce the target language in making requests of their fellow
students (giving them commands). This lesson draws partly on this method for its
first stages.

This set of phrasal verbs are presented together in the context of the classroom
and classroom instructions:

Stage one

There are two possibilities here:

If you are not sure that students will understand the majority of these phrasal
verbs, read the following statements out loud and perform the action. Students
have to order the phrasal verbs in the order they hear them.

If many of the phrasal verbs are familiar to them, copy the following statements
onto individual strips of paper. Give a student one strip of paper and ask him/her
to perform the action (but not read it). All the students mark the corresponding
phrasal verb on their paper. Continue with different students until you have gone
through all the statements.

. Stand up and then sit down again.
. Pick up your pen and then put it down.
. Put away your books.
. Rub out the words on the board.
. Pick up your pen and write down some words in your notebook.
. Turn on your mobile phone and then turn it off.
. Turn over your papers and put your hand up.
. Open your book. Cover up page 15 with a piece of paper.

Tips for understanding phrasal verbs


Sometimes you can understand the phrasal verb by looking at the particle (the
second word). The particles UP and DOWN often relate to a physically higher or
physically lower position. Stand up, put up (your hand), sit down, pick up and
put down are all examples of this kind of phrasal verb. Try the interactive
exercise to practice phrasal verbs with up and down.

Stage two

Check back the answers with the students. Then repeat the instructions in a
different order but ask individual students to perform them (e.g. Maria, put away
your books. Peter, pick up your pen. Put it down again.) You could add another
one in with your instructions: Hurry up! Make sure you write one on the board
and explain its meaning.

When you have practised this sufficiently, ask students to try and complete the
gaps in the following exercise:

Fill in the gaps in the sentences below :

a. ------- ------- your pen and then ------- it --------.

b. ------- ------- your books.
c. ------- ------- the words on the board.
d. ------- ------- your pen and ------- ------ some words in your notebook.
e. ------- ------- your mobile phone and then ------- it ------ off.
f. ------- ------- your papers and ------- your hand -------- .
g. Open your book. ------- -------- page 15 with a piece of paper.

Check answers (the sentences are the same as the above statements).
Drill the pronunciation of the sentences, and highlight that the second part of the
phrasal verb often receive more emphasis (sit down, pick up your pen).

Stage three

Ask students to work in pairs and give each other instructions using the phrasal
verbs. Circulate and listen, correcting errors in pronunciation (wrong emphasis).

Stage four

Which verb goes with which noun?

This exercise focuses on possible phrasal verb and noun combinations.
Give students an example:

LOOK UP the word in a dictionary.

LOOK UP the answer in your book.

a. --------------- the lights the mobile phone the television

b. --------------- the answers the page in your book
c. --------------- your pen your book your dictionary

There is more than one possible answer for each.



If you are doing this as a review for an elementary level class you could point out
the grammar of this group of phrasal verbs. With the exception of sit down and
stand up, all the phrasal verbs in this lesson have the following characteristics:

1. They take an object (rub out the words, turn on the TV)
2. The object can go between the verb and the particle or after the particle (put
your hand up or put up your hand)
3. If you use a pronoun (e.g. it) then it can only go between the verb and the
particle (turn it off not turn off it).

Stand up and sit down are phrasal verbs that don`t take an object and are
therefore never separated.

Lesson plan for teaching phrasal verbs at higher levels

This lesson takes a two pronged approach to helping students learn phrasal verbs.
It begins with a reading comprehension which can also serve to introduce some
interesting student stories for discussion. The second part of the lesson includes a
brainstorming session for students to create lists of phrasal verbs to share with one

Aim: Improve phrasal verb vocabulary

Activity: Reading comprehension followed by brainstorming session and
Level: Intermediate to upper intermediate

Here is the text used:

I was brought up in a small village in the countryside. Growing in the countryside

offered a lot of advantages for the young people. The only problem as that we
often got into trouble as we made up stories that we acted out around town. I can
remember one adventure in particular. One day as we were coming back from
school, we came up with the brilliant idea to make out that we were pirates
looking for treasure. My best friend Tom said that he made out an enemy ship in
the distance. We all ran for cover and picked up a number of rocks to use for
ammunition against the ship as we got ready to put together our plan of action.
We were ready to set off on our attack, we slowly went along the path until we
were face to face with our enemy the postman`s truck! The postman was
dropping off package at Mrs. Brown`s house, so we got into his truck. At that
point, we really didn`t have any idea about what we were going to do next. The
radio was playing so we turned down the volume to discuss what we would do
next. Jack was all for switching on the motor and getting away with the stolen
mail. Of course, we were just children, but the idea of actually making off with a
truck was too much for us to believe. We all broke out in nervous laughter at the

thought of us driving down the road in this stolen Postal Truck. Luckily for us, the
postman came running towards us shouting:
What are you kids up to? Of course we all got out of that truck as quickly as we
could and took off down the road.

Phrasal verbs list:

to make out to take off
to make off with to grow up
to drop off to make up
to set off to turn down
to get into to bring up
to get ready to break out
to be up to


Have students read the short story full of phrasal verbs.

Ask them some general comprehension questions about the text. Once they have
read the text, ask them to tell a story of their own from their youth.
Now that you have discussed the text, ask students to find the phrasal verbs from
the list which occur in the reading selection. Once the students have found these
phrasal verbs, ask them to provide synonyms for the phrasal verbs.

Tell the students a little bit about what you have done that teaching day.

Example: I got up at seven this morning. After I had breakfast, I put together
tonight`s lesson plan and came to school. I got into the bus at X square and got off
at Y square

Ask students which of the verbs you used were phrasal verbs and ask them to
repeat these verbs. At this point, you might want to ask them if they have ever
taken a look under the heading get in a dictionary. Ask them what they have
Explain that phrasal verbs are very important in English especially for native
speakers of the language. You can point out that it might not be important for
them to be able to use a lot of phrasal verbs if they use their English with other
non-native speakers. However, it is important that they have a passive knowledge
of phrasal verbs, as they will need to understand more and more phrasal verbs as
they become used to reading, listening and seeing and exploring authentic
materials in English. Obviously, if they are going to use their English with native
speakers, they will really need to buckle down and get used to using and
understanding phrasal verbs.

Write a list of common verbs that combine with prepositions to make phrasal
verbs. For example:


Divide students into small groups of 3-4 each, ask students to choose three of the
verbs from the list and then brainstorm to come up with as many phrasal verbs as
they can and then write examples for each.
As a class, ask students to take notes while you write down the phrasal verbs that
each group provides. You should then give a spoken example or two for each of
the phrasal verbs so that students can understand the phrasal verbs from the
context of what you are saying.
Once you have provided the students with examples, ask them to read their own
examples and check to make sure that they have used the phrasal verbs correctly.
Don`t introduce the idea of separable and inseparable phrasal verbs at this point.
The students will already be dealing with almost too much new information. Save
that for a future lesson.

Phrasal verbs through exercises, games and texts

1. Match the sentences with similar meanings

a. I tried to find the word in a dictionary. 7
b. I have good relations with my neighbors.
c. I didn`t get out of bed until after midnight.
d. I wrote down all my personal details on the form.
e. The teacher asked me to stop talking, but I didn`t.
f. I think I`m going to enjoy my holiday.
g. I haven`t got any more food. .
h. I`m very similar to my father.
i. I spent my childhood near London.
j. I`ve stopped eating sweets.

1. I filled it in.
2. I take after him.
3. I get on well with them.
4. I`ve given them up.
5. I`m looking forward to it.

6. I`ve run out.
7. I looked it up.
8. I went on talking.
9. I grew up there.
10. I got up late.

2. Cross out the noun phrases on the right that cannot be used with the phrasal
verbs on the left.


call off a meeting / a party / a problem X

a. fill in an application / a form / a mess
b. get over an illness / a problem / money
c. give up music lessons / smoking / a coat
d. put on a form / some music / your shoes
e. switch on a computer / smoking / the TV
f. take off your clothes / a test / your watch
g. turn up a job / the music / the volume

3. Complete each sentence with a particle from the box:

after away away down off up up with

Don`t leave your coat on the floor hang it up .
a. Just sit . and relax everything will be all right in a minute.
b. The teacher told the students to put their books and get ready for the test.
c. They asked me to look their flat while they were on holiday.
d. They switched the TV and finally went to bed.
e. This room is real mess clear it immediately!
f. We really haven`t got time to deal that problem right now.
g. Why don`t you throw those old shoes and get some new ones?

4. Put one suitable word in each space :

a. Sue asked if she could help me wash up the dirty dishes.

b. I need a dictionary, so I can up this word.
c. If I were you I`d off early because Edinburgh is a long way.
d. Our meeting tomorrow has been . off, I`m afraid.
e. I`m not sure about the size of this coat, so can I try it on?
f. Jim had to in a form, giving all his personal details.
g. You`ll never guess who . up at our school party last week.
h. Six people applied for the job, but one of them ..out.

5. Complete each sentence a. to h. with an ending from 1. to 8 :

a. It`s very cold and wet at the moment so we have put 3.

b. Mary`s parents were quite strict and brought her
c. Your room is very untidy! Could you clear .
d. I was talking to Helen when suddenly we were cut .
e. Tina tried to persuade her mother to give..
f. Tim started painting his room this morning and he`s getting ..
g. The branch of a tree fell and knocked..
h. If you like, we could come and pick ..

1. it up please, and put everything away.

2. Peter out for a few moments.
3. off our garden party until next week.
4. up smoking, but she didn`t have much success.
5. on very well so far.
6. off and I couldn`t get her number after that.
7. you up in our car at about 7.00.
8. up to be very polite and obedient.

6. Rewrite each sentence so that it contains a form of the phrasal verb given :

a. Don`t leave the lights on when you leave the school.

turn off
..Turn the lights off when you leave to school..
b. You should use a dictionary to find this word.
look up

c. The athletics meeting was postponed for a week.
put off

d. The doctor told David to stop playing football.
give up

e. Could you write all the details on this form?

fill in

f. Jack arrived half-way through the lesson.
turn up

g. You can stay with us for a week.
put up

h. Helen is doing well in her English class.
get on

7. Rewrite each sentence so that it has a similar meaning and contains the
word given.

a. Paula spent her childhood in Uruguay.

Paula grew up in Uruguay..
b. As soon as it was dawn, we started our journey.

c. Parachuting is dangerous so you should stop doing it.


d. Martin tidies his room every morning.


e. How do you start the computer?

f. Can I see if these shoes are the right size?
g. Carol checked the dates in an encyclopedia.

h. Skating is a great sport. When did you start doing it ?


8. Fill in the following verbs (believe, fill, get, look, put, switch, take, throw,
turn, try) with the correct prepositions (away, down, for, in, off, on, out).

Example:My parents are out. So I have to ________ my baby-brother.

Answer: My parents are out. So I have to look after my baby-brother.
1. Quick! the bus. It's ready to leave.
2. I don't know where my book is. I have to it.
3. It's dark inside. Can you the light, please?
4. the form, please.
5. I need some new clothes. Why don't you the jeans?
6. It's warm inside. your coat.
7. This pencil is really old. You can it .
8. It's so loud here. Can you the radio, please?
9. The firemen were able to the fire in Church Street.
10.Does your little brother ghosts?

9. Fill in the blanks with a preposition or adverb :

about after away away back by by for in into into

off off on over over together up up up

1. We had some problems when we checked the hotel. They had

reserved the room under the wrong name.
2. My book club meets regularly to discuss selected novels. In fact, we are
getting next week to talk about a really unique mystery novel
called Illusion.
3. Mrs. Jones's husband passed last Friday. We are going to
attend his funeral next week.

4. In the dream, my wallet turned a butterfly and flew away. Isn't
that symbolic. I think I'd better stop spending so much money.
5. Before the plane took , the flight attendant told everyone to
fasten their seat belts and extinguish their cigarettes.
6. Don't forget to put your gloves . It is cold outside!
7. The police chased the robber down the street and through the park but
they couldn't catch him. He got by jumping on the back of a
passing truck.
8. Fred told us to keep . He said the dog was very aggressive and
that it might even be rabid.
9. I am looking an apartment near the beach. I would like a
studio or a one bedroom with a view of the ocean.
10. I can't believe how much John takes his father. They look and
act exactly the same.
11. I can mail the letter for you. I go the post office on my way
to work.
12. If you watch your money, stay in hostels, make your own food, and
plan carefully, you can get there on less than $30.00 a day.
13. If you don't understand the word "superstitious," look it in
the dictionary.
14. For legal reasons, our lawyer wants to go the papers
thoroughly before we sign them.
15. Popular protest and extensive media coverage finally helped bring
change in the country's environmental policies.
16. Mr. Octavio checked our names the list one by one as we
entered the room.
17. I can't hear what they are saying on TV. Can you please turn it
18. This radio station is based in Chicago, which is 60 miles from here.
That is why the broadcast doesn't come clearly.
19. This is the most intensive language course I have ever taken. I have to
study four hours per night just to keep with the pace of the class.
20. I think the experiment supports my theory, but I need to go
the results a couple of times to make sure that no mistakes were made
while collecting the data.

10. Use the correct phrasal verb to complete the phrase:

Exercise 1

Have you ......................if you won the

competition yet?
I need to........................from work and
take a holiday.
She still hasn't ................the death of her
find out My daughter is a great cook, she
get on with really .........her mother.
hold on Could you ..............a moment while I see
get away if Marek is in his office?
take after Extension 28? I'll.........................
cut down She promised to ...........her cigarette
look after smoking to six a day.
come up He spent the entire night thinking and in
with the end .............a brilliant idea.
add up I'm afraid your story is not believable. It
put just doesn't................
through Donata cats while I was
look for away on holiday.
get over We're not ready yet, we are going to have
turn up to ........................the meeting until next
put off I'm ..........................Simon's address. Do
you know it?
Mary ........................twenty minutes late
for the party.

I'm tired of waiting for Jack. Can

we.............your work?

Exercise 2

come If you really want to lose weight, you need

across to ............eating desserts.
blow up Let's ...............the grammar one more
make up time before the test.
run out I was old t-shirt when
tell off I ......................this photograph of my
break up high school class.
give up Look Magda, I've ...................your bad
take up behaviour long enough!
turn down There is just too much work to be done.

We'll have to ..............some new
You don't think I believe that ridiculous
story you.........., do you?
I think you need to ..............a new hobby
to help you relax.
When the father saw what had happened he
................and shouted at his son.
I had to ..............her offer of a job. The
salary on offer was just not good enough.
We six in the morning on our
drive to the coast.
Jacek and Gosia .............last week. They
set off just weren't happy together.
take back We'd better stop soon. Otherwise,
take on we'll ...................of gas.
put up with I want you to ................every bad word
you've said about my brother.
Unfortunately, I had to ..................Bob
go over
because of his poor performance recently.

Exercise 3

get into Our flight was delayed, but we

give up finally ..............shortly after midnight.
do away He ...............cheating on his final exam!
with I'm trying to give up smoking, but it's
speed up almost impossible for me.
take on Let's .................with Ted and Hania soon.
settle for Unfortunately, I ...............late for my
take off meeting and lost the contract.
get Finally, the lights ..............and we had a
together good night's sleep.
run up to You won't believe who ................the
come up to party! Clint Eastwood!
turn up I'm afraid I had to .........eggs and bacon. I
show up for really wanted to have pancakes, but they
get away were out of them.
with He ........the club on recommendation from
watch out his friend Radek.

I .....................and past the policeman
doing 120 m.p.h.!
Unfortunately, our school had to ........the
music department because of lack of funds.
for Make sure to ........pick-pockets when you
go to the market.
go out The boy ..................the man and returned
his wallet.

Mary at the party last night and

introduced herself.

11. Complete each gap with a suitable word: just ONE word in each case.
Each correct answer gets 10 points.

Teacher to students:

"I'm afraid I haven't got enough copies of this exercise.

I tried to have more run but the photocopier

had broken and the repairman

didn't turn when he was supposed to.

He did ring to say he'd been

held unexpectedly, but that's the second

time that company has let us recently.

Well, there's nothing else for it: you're just going to have

to look with your neighbor. While you're doing

that, I'll just give the test you did last week.

Some of you slipped in a few places,

but, on the whole, the results were good. If you

carry as you've been doing, you should do fine!"

11. Fill in the gaps with one of the phrasal verbs given:

ask Julia out called her back called her up cheer himself up
drop in on figure out get over get over getting along give
up on hung up made up pick her up picked up take her
out turned him down

Karl liked Julia. He wanted to , so he . The

phone rang three times. Finally, Julia the phone. Karl got really
nervous and .
Karl thought about how much he liked Julia. Five minutes later, he
Her voice was sexy. Karl offered to at eight o'clock and
for dinner. He knew a great Italian restaurant on 16th Street.
Julia already had a date, so she an excuse. She said she had to stay
in and wash her hair. Karl was really disappointed because she had
Later that night, Karl decided to his friend Karin. He needed
help. He wanted to what to do about Julia. He still really liked
her and just couldn't her.
Karin wasn't home. He decided to with a drink, so he
walked down the street to the local bar. As he walked into the bar, he saw
Julia with his friend Doug. They were sitting close to one another and
laughing. They seemed to be very well. Karl ran out of the
bar before they saw him.
He decided to Julia but it took two weeks to the

12. Tick the correct answer:

1Karl _______ the bus to go to the store.

got on
get on
got up
got over

2He didn't mind going to the store because he could ________ doing
the dishes.
get out of
get out
get off
get over

3When he _____ from the store, his girlfriend had finished doing
the dishes.
got by
got with
got in
got back

4She told him she couldn't _____ the rest of the housework without
his help.
get through
get over
get on
get off

Karl hated doing housework, but he wanted to ____ with

his girlfriend.

get on
get along
get over
get up

6In addition, he realized he could _____ by just vacuuming. After

that, he could read the newspaper.
get by
got by
got in
get up

7After Karl vacuumed for a minute or two, he sat down

and____ reading the paper.
got by
got over
getting in
got into

8Not hearing the vacuum cleaner, his girlfriend came into

the room. Karl _____ immediately
got down
got by
got in
got up

13. Choose from the list to complete the sentences. Put the verbs in the
correct form:
crowd around call off keep on account for let out get on
walk out turn out catch up climb down

1.The concert was ___ because of the rain.

2.How did he ___ their bad behavior.
3.He must be about 90. He is really ___.
4.In the end everything ___ OK.
5.Can you ___ all right or should I get a ladder?
6.I am sorry that I am late. I got ___ in traffic.
7.I was so angry that I ___ in protest.
8.The man was ___ of jail early for good behavior.
9.Even though he was tired, he ___ going.
10.After the accident a lot of people ___.

14. Choose the right answer:

Phrasal Verbs - Travel

To go on holiday especially because you need a rest is to ___.

a. get over
b. go off
c. get away

To show your ticket and get your seat at the airport is to ___.
a. check out
b. check off
c. check in

When the aircraft leaves the ground it ___.

a. takes off
b. takes over
c. takes in

To start on a journey is to ___.

a. set in
b. set by
c. set off

The time a train, bus or plane arrives is when it ___.

a. gets away
b. gets in
c. gets over

To visit somewhere for a short time when you are going somewhere is to ___.
a. stop off

b. stop away
c. stop on

To stay somewhere for a length of time when you are on a long journey is to ___.
a. stop by
b. stop over
c. stop on

Phrasal Verbs Thinking

To think carefully about an idea before making a decision is to ___.

a. figure out
b. think over
c. chip in

To think of a suggestion, a solution or plan is to ___.

a. come up with
b. come out with
c. come over

To think about something that has happened is to ___.

a. run over
b. go over
c. go with

To create an idea, or plan using your imagination is to ___.

a. work out
b. think over
c. think up

To stop yourself from thinking about something is to ___.

a. think it out
b. bring it out
c. shut it out

To think of a very imaginative and not really possible plan is to ___.

a. dream it up
b. go over it
c. come out with

To think about an idea, but not seriously is to ___.

a. toy with it

b. dream about it
c. work it out

To find the answer to something through deep thinking is ___.

a. think it up
b. figure it out
c. play with it

Phrasal Verbs - Speaking

If you speak for a long time, you ___.

a. get on
b. go on
c. edge on

If you talk too long on one subject, you ___.

a. run out
b. run over
c. run on

Another way to say this is ___.

a. tread on
b. unwind
c. ramble on

If you say something you have learned quickly and without stopping, you ___.
a. knock down
b. rattle off
c. rabbit on

An informal word that means the same is to ___.

a. reel off
b. rope off
c. tie off

To say something while another person is talking is to ___.

a. butt in
b. figure out
c. go over

To say something suddenly and without thinking is to ___.

a. ease up

b. rub in
c. blurt out

To make someone stop talking is to ___.

a. shut up
b. shut out
c. shut in

To speak to someone without letting them answer is to ___.

a. talk over
b. talk at
c. talk to

To suddenly stop talking in the middle of a speech because you have forgotten
what to say it to ___.
a. wipe out
b. dry up
c. go over.

Phrasal Verbs - Illness

To get an illness from someone is to ___.

a. pick it up
b. truck it in
c. take it away

To try hard to get rid of an illness is to ___.

a. tide it over
b. cave in
c. fight it off

If a part of your body gets bigger and rounder because of injury or illness it ___.
a. comes out
b. kicks in
c. swells up

Another expression for vomiting is to ___.

a. throw up
b. toss out
c. pass out

To be able to eat or drink without vomiting is to ___.
a. keep it down
b. get over it
c. dip into

To become unconscious is to ___.

a. go out
b. black out
c. knock over

Phrasal Verbs with "Up"

To stick a poster to a wall is the same as to ___ up a poster.

a. liven
b. put
c. stand

To go from sitting to standing is the same as to ___ up.

a. shoot
b. speak
c. stand

To go from being a child to being an adult is the same as to ___ up.

a. heal
b. grow
c. hurry

To ask someone to talk loudly so that you can hear them is the same as to ___ up.
a. talk
b. ask
c. speak

To rush so that you aren't late is the same as to ___ up.

a. hurry
b. fill
c. cheer

To become happy after being sad or miserable is the same as to ___ up.
a. put
b. look
c. cheer

To put nice clothes on and look smart is the same as to ___ up.
a. stand

b. lock
c. dress

To clean a room is the same as to ___ up.

a. clean
b. seal
c. cheer

To explode a bomb in a building is the same as to ___ up a building.

a. blow
b. mess
c. make

To not go to bed early is the same as to ___ up.

a. look
b. stay
c. lock

To go faster and faster is the same as to ___ up.

a. shoot
b. call
c. speed

If a problem suddenly happens, it is the same as a problem has just ___ up.
a. lit
b. beat
c. cropped

To divide into groups is the same as to ___ up.

a. screw
b. split
c. beat

To admit you have done something wrong is the same as to ___ up.
a. own
b. dig
c. lighten

To fasten your coat is the same as to ___ up your coat.

a. sum
b. tighten

c. do

To make or create trouble is the same as to ___ up trouble.

a. try
b. stir
c. liven

To try to find some information or thing from the past is the same as to ___ up
a. try
b. hold
c. dig

To redo your lipstick and tidy up your hair and appearance is the same as to ___
a. pull
b. freshen
c. kick

To make something louder is the same as to ___ up the volume.

a. turn
b. polish
c. call

If you hit, punch or kick someone, it's the same as to ___ up someone.
a. pull
b. bottle
c. beat

To finish your drink quickly because you are leaving is the same as to ___ up.
a. keep
b. kick
c. drink

If you form a queue to get something, it is the same as to ___ up.

a. line
b. hold
c. call

To not share your feeling with anyone is the same as to ___ up your feelings.
a. bottle
b. sum

c. pile

To stop outside of somewhere is the same as to ___ up outside.

a. turn
b. fold
c. pull

To make a mistake is the same as to ___ up.

a. screw
b. hang
c. flare

To practice a skill you have already is the same as to ___ up a skill.

a. fold
b. kick
c. polish

To not be able to speak or move because of fright or worry is the same as to ___
a. keep
b. freeze
c. hang

To support something or stop something is the same as to ___ it up.

a. hold
b. kick
c. brush

To appear uninvited is the same as to ___ up.

a. draw
b. hold
c. turn

Phrasal Verb Practice Using "Up"

I am so tired today because I ___ up early.

a. built
b. cheer
c. got

I missed a lot of classes so I have to work hard to ___ up.
a. save
b. catch
c. lock

I don't know the telephone number so I'll have to ___ it up.

a. mix
b. look
c. use

If you don't ___ up, we will be late.

a. hurry
b. bring
c. draw

Her husband died so she had to ___ up the children alone.

a. blow
b. bring
c. crop

The traffic was ___ up because of road work.

a. held
b. freshened
c. kept

The police ___ up the political demonstration.

a. got
b. turned
c. broke

You should always ___ up any words you don't know in a dictionary.
a. get
b. look
c. cheer

I can't believe he ___ up the bill and paid for our dinner.
a. set
b. put
c. picked

The boy ___ up his seat to the old lady.

a. made
b. gave

c. came


Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear,
but around in awareness

I have been studying languages and teaching English for some years now and I
have found out that learning an expression (proverb, phrase, idiom, famous
saying) is helpful in many ways. Therefore I always introduce my students to
idiomatic expressions, from the very beginning.

Learning such expressions not only introduce students to some cultural aspects of
the language they are learning, but it also makes them feel confident in using and
repeating them when the chance arises, generating respect in those with whom
they come in contact.

This paper has arisen out of a deep and prolonged dissatisfaction which I have felt
with both the past and present status of teaching/learning of idiomatic expressions
and multi-word verbs of English. My main objective was, therefore, to seek
suitable alternatives and different approaches, to provide those engaged in English
language teaching and learning with possible means for pre-empting and solving
the problems and difficulties of teaching and learning idioms and multi-word
verbs of English.


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