Some verbs are two part verbs (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases). They consist of a verb and a particle:

  • grow + up
    >> The children are growing up.

Often this gives the verb a new meaning:

  • take + after
    >> She takes after her mother
    = She looks like her mother, or She behaves like her mother.
  • count + on
    >> I know I can count on you
    = I know I can trust you, or I know I can believe you.

Some transitive two part verbs (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases) have only one pattern:

N (subject) + V + p + N (object)

[Note: N = noun; V = verb; p = particle]

N (Subject)  Verb Particle  N (Object)
My father
can count
her mother

Some transitive two part verbs (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases) are phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs have two different patterns:

• The usual pattern is: N + V + N + p


N (Subject) Verb (N) Object Particle
will be leaving
the money
the glass
our friends and neighbours

• But sometimes these verbs have the pattern: N (subject) + V + p + N (object)


N (Subject) Verb Particle N (Object)
will be leaving
the money
the glass
our friends and neighbours

When the object is a personal pronoun,these verbs always have the pattern:

N + V +N + p:

  • She gave back it
    >> She gave it back
  • He knocked over it
     >> knocked it over
  • We will be leaving behind them
    >> We will be leaving them behind

• Phrasal verbs are nearly always made up of a transitive verb and a particle. Common verbs with their most frequent particles are:

bring: about, along, back, forward, in, off, out, round, up
buy: out, up
call: off, up
carry: off, out
cut: back, down, off, out, up
give: away, back, off
hand: back, down, in, on out, over, round
knock: down, out, over
leave: behind, out
let: down, in, off, out
pass: down, over, round
point: out
push: about, around, over
put: across, away, down, forward, off, on, out, through, together, up
read: out
set: apart, aside, back, down
shut: away, in, off, out
take: apart, away, back, down, in, on, up, over
think: over, through, up






Hello Leoz,

The definition of phrasal verb is actually quite hazy. 'Invest' is a verb which requires a preposition when it is used as a transitive verb but which does not have a preposition when it is an intransitive verb.

Thus we say:

I don't want to invest at this time.

I don't want to invest in that project at this time.


'Invest' does not have any non-literal/idiomatic meaning, which is one of the characteristics of phrasal verbs. Therefore I would simply call it a verb with a dependent preposition, rather like 'listen (to)' and 'dream (of)'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Kindly explain to me how "come from" is a transitive phrasal verb in the sentence

My father comes from Madrid.

The above sentence is one of the sentences given as examples of transitive phrasal verbs. Your explanation will be helpful to me. Thanks a lot.

Hello Otevia,

A phrasal verb is composed of a verb ('come') and a particle ('from'), also sometimes referred to as an adverb particle. They're transitive when they must have an object, which is the case with 'come from' -- in English, a place is always used after 'from'.

I can understand how it might seem a bit odd to call this a phrasal verb, as 'come from' has a fairly obvious meaning. It might help to think that 'from' is a preposition, which in this case is being used adverbially. If you're interested in going into more depth on this topic, the Cambridge Dictionary's Grammar entry on multi-word verbs goes into quite a bit of detail.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I have a follow up question if this is fine.

Since invest is a verb, in the example sentence quoted earlier on
"This program has been heavily invested in by the government.", it means that the structure is "invested in by" (verb + preposition + preposition). Can two prepositions be used together in this sentence?


Hi Leo,

This sentence is a passive form and the 'by' construction shows the doer of the action.

It is fine to have two prepositions. You can do it with prepositional phrases of time or place as well:


This program has been heavily invested in for many years / in the United States.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter! This is really helpful for someone who is not a native English Speaker.

Is there a general rule for distinguishing a separable verb?

Hello amirfd,

I'm not sure what you mean by a general rule. There's nothing inherent in the verb in isolation which tells you whether or not it will be separable. You need to see the verb in use, or learn it beforehand. Any good dictionary will include information on whether a verb is transitive, intransitive or ergative (able to be both transitive or intransitive, such as 'boil').


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again,
Kindly correct if there's a mistake or please give me the correct grammar.

''...from what they have been used to before''

(To make it more clear, a situation when someone cannot do the same thing from what they have been doing before, like celebrities)

Hello Aoll212,

I think the past simple ('were used to') is more likely here as 'used to' refers to finished past time. However, the context is key.

Please note that we do not generally provide a checking or correcting service for users. We're happy to comment on our own material and provide general help with English but with so many users it's not possible for us to check language in this way.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team