Multi-word verbs

Learn about multi-word verbs (phrasal verbs) such as grow up, take after, look forward to and catch up with and do the exercises to practise using them.

Level: intermediate

Two-part verbs

Some verbs are two-part verbs. 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 two-part verbs have only one pattern

Subject Verb Particle Object
The children are growing up.
She takes after her mother.
I can count on you.
Two-part verbs 1


Two-part verbs 2


But other two-part verbs have two different patterns. The usual pattern is:

Noun (subject) Verb Noun (object) Particle
She gave the money back.
He knocked the glass over.
We will be leaving our friends behind.

but sometimes these verbs have the pattern:

Noun (subject) Verb Particle Noun (object)
She gave back the money.
He knocked over the glass.
We will be leaving behind our friends.

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

She gave it back. (NOT She gave back it.)

He knocked it over. (NOT He knocked over it.)

We will be leaving them behind(NOT We will be leaving behind them.)

Two-part verbs 3


Two-part verbs 4


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

Three-part verbs

Some verbs are made up of three parts: a verb and two particles. They have the pattern:

Noun (subject) Verb Particle Particle Noun (object)
His girlfriend walked out on him.
She caught up with the other runners.
Children should look up to their parents.

Common three-part verbs are:

catch up with get on with look up to stick up for
face up to look forward to put up with walk out on
get away with look down on run away with watch out for

A few verbs have the pattern:

Noun (subject) Verb Noun (object of verb) Particle Particle Noun (object of particle)
We talked them out of leaving.
She put his mistakes down to inexperience.

Verbs like this are: 

do out of put down to take out on
let it on put up to talk out of
Three-part verbs 1


Three-part verbs 2



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