Pesky Phrasal Verb Particles
Firstly, what are particles?
Particles are the non-content words which are (among other uses) used in a variety of combinations with verbs to form Phrasal Verbs. They are also the reason we can’t translate a phrasal verbs’ meaning by separating the verb and the particle. In most cases the verb is more pertinent to the meaning of the phrasal verb, however, the choice of particle is never random and can often be responsible for how a phrasal verb is used in context.
Consider these examples with the same verb but different particle:
“She carried on working even though she was exhausted.” = continued to work
“The company carried out a satisfaction survey.” = to execute a duty.
THE MOST COMMON PARTICLES ARE:
Adverbial Particles: Up, in, on, off, down, out, through
Prepositional Particles: at, for, to, with
Identifying the use of a particle in a phrasal verb through analysis and observation is key because there are no hard and fast rules to follow, and over 400 known phrasal verbs.
HERE IS A QUICK GUIDE TO GET YOU STARTED:
On – gives a sense of continuation
- To keep on.
- To struggle on in your quest.
- To go on.
Up – makes something better or more positive (or the opposite)
- To do your hair. (see phrasal verbs for more about separating phrasal verbs)
- To liven up a party.
- To build up someone’s confidence.
- His inspiration dried up.
Off – gives a sense of division or to get rid of something or someone
- Her shoe came off as she ran.
- To be cut off by a car in traffic.
- To peel off a jacket because it’s hot.
Out – to give or take something.
- To print out a document = take from a computer
- To dish out punishment = give punishment to a naughty child, like no TV or sweets.
- To give out the exam papers = to give students the test papers for an exam
Consider this native example:
“I’m all teched out!” = I don’t want to deal with technology anymore!
Perhaps the person has to work on their computer or smart devices a lot and is frustrated. The particle OUT in this example = reached the end/finished/done.
NICOLETTA’S FAVOURITE PHRASAL VERB RESOURCES ARE:
- Work on Your Phrasal Verbs.
- Collins Phrasal Verb Dictionary.
- These apps for Android devices are wonderful – and free!