3 Steps To Learning Phrasal Verbs
A few weeks ago one of my students was feeling very encouraged to do a little extra homework at the weekend, only to find that the internet was overwhelming in its advice on phrasal verbs.
But the problem turned to frustration when there was no guidance about 'which' phrasal verbs to learn. Which ones are worth learning?
Are there any rules as to what to learn first of phrasal verbs divided by English level or ones used more exclusively for business.
Ok, so what are phrasal verbs?
A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and preposition, a verb and an adverb, or a verb with both an adverb and a preposition. A phrasal verb has a meaning which is different from the original verb.
Now this is going to be an alien concept for a lot of languages that don't have an equivalent for phrasal verbs. So don't worry if you don't get it first time... 'practice makes perfect'
'practice makes perfect' has been revealed as the most influential saying. The expression topped a poll of words of wisdom Britons picked up in childhood and continue to use well into their older years. (Daily Mail)
Let's get back to the question at hand.
Selection: Which phrasal verbs are worth learning first?
I've selected my Top 8:
PUT UP WITH
The first thing I do is give a clue to the context. The phrasal verb alone is not enough. It will leave you struggling to imagine which scenario is relevant. So I'm going to add a reminder of a clue to help you to jell (v.) it into your brain.
GROW UP (IN A COUNTRY/CITY)
MEET UP (WITH SOMEONE)
WORK OUT (SOMETHING MATHEMATICAL/ A SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM)
BACK UP (SOMEONE)
PUT UP WITH (SOMEONE OR SOMETHING)
PUT ON (A GARMENT)
END UP (IN A SITUATION/WITH SOMEONE)
GET ON (WITH SOMEONE)
Is that better? Does it give you a better understanding already, without having a full explanation & examples?
(Please let me know your thoughts in the comments box below).
I generally divide teaching English into General English & Business English. I would not attempt to teach a learner business English until they have a grasp of Elementary General English. So, I think that's the best place to start...
I've compiled and documented in a radio podcast, what I consider the fundamental Top 8 that every student should know. In fact it's a good starting point for any learner of English.
Note: A phrasal verb may have several meanings! (Listen to our podcast and do the QUIZ to hear the above examples explained and discussed or DOWNLOAD them for free) so it will be really important to get to use the right phrasal verb in the correct context.
Step 1 - Attempt to write three sample sentences
I will assume that you have looked at examples. The reason I ask you to write 3 is because; the 1st we usually remember from a book, the 2nd we could have just been lucky... but if you can write 3 correct phrasal verb sentences, it mean that you most probably understand it! (Remember: listening & reading, understanding then finally speaking).
Step 2 - Make the sentences 'True' sentences
This is so you can use the phrase today (and not have to wait for the situation to arise or invent something for the sake of using the phrasal verb)
Step 3 - Ask a Native to check your sentences
There's nothing worse than hearing someone use a phrasal verb in the wrong context, it could mean you lose out at the interview! There are many 'false friends' that will give you a 'false sense of security', so don't fall into the trap of thinking that the context is going to work... there's nothing logical about phrasal verbs- so stop thinking too much!
Example: Don't be logical... think, 'That's how the English say it'
Why we say on the beach & you say in the beach (of course 'on' the beach is more logical). Why we say 'on' the TV and you say 'in' the TV (of course 'in' the TV is more logical). There's no question of who's right, so the 'logical' answer, won't always be the 'correct' answer).
Check out our podcast as we discuss some sentences, the multiple meanings of some phrasal verbs and their context. This podcast will give you a good idea of what you're dealing with & how to go about enriching your vocabulary both outside & inside the boardroom.
overwhelming - (adj) very great in amount (almost too much)
worth - (adj) having income or value amounting to a specified sum or intrinsic value (subjective).
get back to - contact (someone) later to give a reply or return a message.
question at hand - (expression) The current issue/topic/problem.
a reminder - (expr.) a thing that causes someone to remember something (to prompt/cue/nudge someone to remember something)
a clue - (noun.) a piece of evidence or information used in the detection of a crime or to solve a problem
jell - (verb) (alternative spelling 'gel') set or become more solid/fixed
have a grasp of sthg - (v) to comprehend fully
for the sake of - for the purpose of; in the interest of; in order to achieve or preserve.
false friends - a word or expression that has a similar form to one in a person's native language, but a different meaning
a false sense of security - If something gives you a false sense of security, it makes you believe that you are safe when you are not.
enriching - improve or enhance the quality or value of (something e.g. your life quality) your vocabulary.
These definitions are by no means definitive, as they are the meanings in relation to the context of the sentences above, used in this blog post.
Let me know if there is anything you would like me to address in future Blogs.
contact me directly with your suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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