The four types of phrasal verbs in English

What are the 4 different types of phrasal verbs in English? When is a phrasal verb separable or inseparable? Do you always need an object? Watch this video lesson to find out everything you've always wanted to know about phrasal verbs!


Phrasal verbs are very important in English and they help to make you sound a lot more natural when you're speaking, particularly when you're speaking in English. A lot of students find them quite confusing and a bit frustrating but in this video we're going to look at the four different types of phrasal verbs that we have in English and that should help you to understand how we use phrasal verbs.

The first thing to notice about phrasal verbs is that a phrasal verb has a main verb and it has one or two particles. Now the particle might be a preposition or it might also be an adverb. You don't need to worry too much about whether the particle is an adverb or a preposition, but we'll look at that together. So I'll give you an example for each of the four types of phrasal verbs to show you the difference.

Type one. This is 'intransitive'. That means that this type of phrasal verb doesn't need an object. There's no object. So for example, you can say to someone: 'hurry up'. So, 'hurry up' just means 'go faster', 'do something faster'. 'Hurry' is the main verb, 'up' is the particle, in this case it's an adverb, but there's no object. Another good example is: "I don't have enough money to get by". Again, 'get by' is the phrasal verb, but there's no object after the phrasal verb.

Type two. This is separable. This means that you can separate the main verb from the particle. Again, the particle here is an adverb. So let's look at an example together. 'Turn off'. You could say: "Turn off the TV" or "Turn the TV off". So in this case, the object is the TV and as you can see in this example, you can put the object between the verb and the particle or at the end, after the particle. However, if the object is a pronoun, for example 'it', Then the object must go in the middle of the phrasal verb, between the verb and the particle. So, you can say: "Turn it off" but you can't say "Turn off it".

Type three phrasal verbs. These are non-separable. So this means that the object must go at the end of the phrasal verb. Now the phrasal verb might have one or two particles, but in any case the object must go at the end. Here's an example: "I need to deal with this problem" or "I need to deal with it". So 'deal with' is the phrasal verb and 'this problem' or 'it' is the object and that must go at the end. Here's another example: "It's hard to keep up with my homework". 'Keep up' or 'keep up with' is the phrasal verb. In this case if you need to know, 'up' is an adverb and 'with' is a preposition. But that's not so important. What is important is that the object 'my homework' or 'it' must go at the end. It must go at the end of the phrasal verb.

Finally, type four phrasal verbs. These are probably the least common phrasal verbs, but they're distinctive because they have two objects. Here's an example: "I will keep you to your promise". So in this example here there are two objects and the first object is 'you' and the second object is 'your promise'. "I will keep you to your promise". What this means is, I will make sure you don't break your promise to me.

OK, so those are the four types of phrasal verbs in English. So we'll do some practice now to see how much you've remembered. I'm going to give you some example sentences using phrasal verbs and I want you to decide which type of phrasal verb is used in each example. Is it type one, type two, type three or type four?

So I know phrasal verbs might seem a bit confusing, but really the more contact you have with phrasal verbs, the easier they get. Always learn phrasal verbs in context and that will help you to understand them more, but by understanding the structure, the four different types of phrasal verbs in English, this will also help you to understand them and to use them correctly as well. If you're not so sure then go back, watch the video again. It's always easier the second time.

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Take care and I'll see you in the next video lesson!