Phrasal Verb

Not everyone agrees on the exact definition, but here is a simplified definition of Phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are verbs that consist of a verb followed by one or two particles.

particles are small words known as an adverb or a preposition, such as look up, get on with or look forward to).

And it can be very difficult and confusing to figure out if a particle in a particular phrasal verb is one or the other. Fortunately, this is almost never important to the student, so it is a lot easier to simply call them both particles.

Here are the most common phrasal verbs particles:

  • about
  • around
  • at
  • away
  • back
  • down
  • for
  • in
  • into
  • off
  • on
  • out
  • over
  • through
  • to
  • up

What are the most common verbs that form part of phrasal verbs?

Here are the most common verbs that form part of phrasal verbs:


The most common verbs that form part of phrasal verbs

Separating phrasal verbs

The verb and particle of some phrasal verbs can be separated by an object. When this is possible, we say that the phrasal verb is separable. When the verb and particle cannot be separated, we say that the phrasal verb is inseparable. Unfortunately, there is no rule that will help you to look at a phrasal verb and always know whether it is separable or inseparable.

When the object of a phrasal verb is a noun, it is (usually) optional whether the object is placed between the verb and the particle or placed after the particle.

Both the sentences below are correct:

  • I took my shoes off.
  • I took off my shoes.

However, when an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, or them) is used instead of a noun, the pronoun must be placed between the verb and the particle:

  • I took them off.
  • I took off them.

Separating a phrasal verb is usually optional, but a small number of two-word phrasal verbs are permanently separated:

  • He had to do his homework over.
  • He had to do over his homework.

Also, sometimes a two-word separable phrasal verb must be separated when it has two objects:

  • She put a blanket on.
  • She put on a blanket.


  • She put a blanket on the bed.
  • She put on a blanket the bed.

And a small number of three-word verbs are separable because they always require two objects:

  • My friend talked me out of it.