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






Having thought about this some more, I wonder if a test of a phrasal verb is this: is the verb being used with a direct object that requires you to say [verb] [pronoun] [particle], e.g. 'bring it along', 'give it back', rather than 'bring along it', or 'give back it'? If it is, the particle isn't changing the meaning of the verb - the phrase doesn't have 'a meaning which is more than just the sum of its words'.
I'd be very grateful for guidance. Thanks.

Hi william49 and soubeigad,

There are different classes of phrasal verbs. Separable phrasal verbs allow for other words such as pronoun objects between the verb and the particle - in fact, if the object is a pronoun, it must go between the verb and the particle (not after the particle) - and others do not allow any words between the verb and particle. There is more about all of this on our multi-word verbs page.

Searching for "bring along" and "give back" in the Cambridge Dictionaries Online search box on the right, you can see that both are indicated as phrasal verbs. You're certainly welcome to take issue with that, and personally I think it's an interesting topic, but since our main focus at LearnEnglish is to help people learn to use English better, I can't really get into a technical discussion of what phrasal verbs are or are not at this point. But I would like to suggest that you may have already internalized the sense behind the particles "back" and "behind" that is found in the two examples you give, and that's why it appears to you that their meaning is not more than just the sum of their words, whereas to someone else this might not be obvious.

You might want to do an internet search for phrasal verbs or read the wikipedia entry on them to learn more about how they are defined.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

what's the difference between future perfect and future perfect continuous tense?

Hello sameerremy,

These two forms are explained on our will or would and will have or would have pages. Please take a look and then if you have any questions, please ask them on one of those pages.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello all
how can i copying this pages
please if anybody can answer me?

Hello ahmed_160,

Do you mean download these pages? I'm afraid the entire pages cannot be downloaded and can only be accessed online. However, there are downloadable sections, such as transcripts for the audio and video materials and downloadable exercises on many pages. You will also see a link to a 'Printer-friendly version' on many pages so that you can print out a paper copy for yourself.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

thank you very much

Well how could the phrasal verbs be so hard? Any recommended ideas to master phrasal verbs?

This question I send to the LearnEnglish Team, a trustful guidance for English learners.

Hello Anh Quân,

Have you looked through the older comments on this page? There's a lot of discussion of phrasal verbs there, some of which you might find useful.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Help me to fill the blank using through, down, across
1. He drove _____ the main road.
2.The cat jumped ____ the window.
3. A mouse ran _____ the boy's feet.