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Unlocking the Secret to Understanding Phrasal Verbs

Do you ever find yourself struggling to understand the meaning behind English phrasal verbs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Phrasal verbs can be confusing, as they are a combination of two or more words that create a new meaning.

However, with a few simple steps, you can unlock the secret to understanding phrasal verbs and make them much easier to use. In this blog post, we will go over the step-by-step guide for students to learn and understand phrasal verbs. By following this guide, you can become a master of phrasal verbs in no time!

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Separate the Words

When it comes to understanding phrasal verbs, the best way to start is by separating each word. Take the phrasal verb “look up”, for example. By separating the words, we can understand that “look” means “to direct one’s gaze” and “up” means “in an upward direction”.

By understanding these two separate words, we can then understand the phrasal verb “look up” to mean “direct one’s gaze in an upward direction”. 

It is important to remember that the meaning of a phrasal verb is not always the same as the meaning of its individual parts. By separating the words, however, you can make a better guess as to what the phrasal verb might mean.

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Understand What Each Word Means

The most effective way to understand the meanings of words in a phrasal verb is to look up the individual words that make it up. For example, if you encounter the phrase “run out”, you can look up both the verb “run” and the adverb “out” separately and put them together to determine its meaning. 

“Run” usually means to move quickly on foot or to manage something while “out” usually means to depart or to be absent. Together, “run out” could mean to leave quickly, to use up all of something, or to expire.

It’s also helpful to keep in mind any specific collocations or combinations of words. Collocations are when certain words are often used together, such as “bring up” or “take off”. These two-word combinations may have a specific meaning that you won’t find from just looking up each word separately. The only way to know for sure is to practice using them in conversations and/or read them in context.

Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly infinite number of phrasal verbs out there. With some practice and dedication, you will soon become a master of English phrasal verbs!

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Apply the Context

When trying to understand a phrasal verb, it is important to apply the context to the situation. For example, if you are trying to understand the phrasal verb “turn down”, consider what you would do in a situation where someone offered you something and you had to “turn it down”. 

Think about what the two words, “turn” and “down”, would mean in that context. The phrase could be understood as declining an offer or rejecting something.

By considering the situation and what each word means separately, you can better understand how to use the phrase correctly. It is important to practice applying the context of a phrase like this in order to remember it better. 

Once you have an understanding of the phrase and how it works, it will be easier to remember and use it in different contexts.

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Think of a Situation You’ll Use It In

When you are in a conversation, think of a situation where you might need to use the phrasal verb. For example, imagine someone asks you to “look after” something for them. This phrase is a phrasal verb that means to take care of or manage something.

In this situation, you can use the phrase “I will look after it.” Repeating the sentence out loud to yourself and hearing it can help you better understand the phrasal verb and the situation you might use it in.

By separating each word of the phrasal verb, understanding what each word means, applying the context and thinking of a situation you’ll use it in, you can gain a better understanding of how to use and interpret phrasal verbs. As long as you keep practicing and listening to conversations, you will soon become a pro at using these tricky phrases.

This is a great video by EngVid to understand phrasal verbs for business meetings. 

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The Phrasal Summary

In order to truly understand phrasal verbs, it’s important to first separate the words, understand what each word means, and apply the context. By understanding the context, you’ll be able to think of a situation you can use it in.

With over 5000-10000 phrasal verbs being used in spoken communication with native speakers, it’s important to understand them in order to improve your response times and sound more professional in the workplace.

To download a short PDF of 20 common phrasal verbs – CLICK HERE 

3 thoughts on “Unlocking the Secret to Understanding Phrasal Verbs

  1. Pingback: Effective Phrases to Use When Beginning English Business Emails | Learn Laugh Speak

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