What are Phrasal Verbs?
Separable phrasal verbs can remain together when using an object that is a noun or noun phrase.
- I picked Tom up. OR I picked up Tom.
- They put their friends up. OR They put up their friends.
Separable phrasal verbs MUST be separated when a pronoun is used:
- We picked him up at the station. NOT We picked up him at the station.
- They put them up. NOT They put up them.
Inseparable phrasal verbs always remain together. It makes no difference if a noun or pronoun is used.
- We set off for the beach. / We set off for it.
- They are looking after the children. / They are looking after them.
Phrasal Verbs which Don’t Take Objects
Some phrasal verbs do not take objects. These phrasal verbs are ALWAYS inseparable.
- They thieves got away.
- The bus broke down on the way to work.
- She got up early.
If you are not sure whether a phrasal verb is separable or inseparable, ALWAYS use a noun or nouns phrase and DO NOT separate. In this manner, you will always be correct!
Separable Phrasal Verbs: bring up, take off
- They brought up their children to respect others.
- She took off her jacket before she began the lesson.
Inseparable Phrasal Verbs: look for, set off
- She was looking for her books when he arrived.
- They set off for a wonderful holiday in Hawaii.
Three-word Phrasal Verbs
Some verbs are followed by two prepositions (or adverbs). These phrasal verbs are ALWAYS inseparable.
- I’m looking forward to meeting John. OR I’m looking forward to meeting him.
- They didn’t get on with their mother. OR They didn’t get on with her.