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In English, a phrasal verb is a phrase that indicates an action—such as turn down or ran into. The term applies to two or three distinct but related constructions: This semantic unit cannot be understood based upon the meanings of the individual parts, but must be taken as a whole.
In other words, the meaning is non- compositional and thus unpredictable. There are at least three main types of phrasal verb constructions depending on whether the verb combines with a preposition, a particle, or both. The aspect of these types of verbs that unifies them under the single banner phrasal verb is the fact that their meaning cannot be understood based upon the meaning of their parts taken in isolation: The terminology of phrasal verbs is inconsistent. Modern theories of syntax tend to use the term phrasal verb to denote particle verbs only; they do not view prepositional verbs as phrasal verbs.
Note that prepositions and adverbs can have a literal meaning that is spatial or orientational. The terminology used to denote the particle is also inconsistent.
Sometimes it is called an adverb, and at other times an intransitive prepositional phrase. The value of this choice and its alternatives including separable verb for Germanic languages is debatable. In origin the concept is based on translation linguistics; as many single-word English and Latinate words are translatable by a phrasal verb complex in English, therefore the logic is that the phrasal verb complex must be a complete semantic unit in itself.
One should consider in this regard that the actual term phrasal verb suggests that such constructions should form phrases.
In most cases however, they clearly do not form phrases. Hence the very term phrasal verb is misleading and a source of confusion, which has motivated some to reject the term outright. When a particle phrasal verb is transitive , it can look just like a prepositional phrasal verb. This similarity is another source of confusion, since it obscures the difference between prepositional and particle phrasal verbs. A simple diagnostic distinguishes between the two, however.
When the object of a particle verb is a definite pronoun, it can and usually does precede the particle. The aspect of phrasal verb constructions that makes them difficult to learn for non-native speakers of English is that their meaning is non-compositional. This trait of phrasal verbs is also what makes them interesting for linguists, since they appear to defy the principle of compositionality. The following dependency grammar trees illustrate the point: The words of each phrasal verb construction are highlighted in orange.
These words form a catena because they are linked together in the vertical dimension. They constitute units of meaning, and these units are stored as multi-part wholes in the lexicon.
A complex aspect of phrasal verbs concerns the distinction between prepositional phrasal verbs and particle phrasal verbs that are transitive, as discussed and illustrated above. Particle phrasal verbs that are transitive allow some variability in word order, depending on the relative weight of the constituents involved.
Shifting often occurs when the object is very light, e. Shifting occurs between two or more sister constituents that appear on the same side of their head. The lighter constituent shifts leftward and the heavier constituent shifts rightward, and this happens to accommodate the relative weight of the two. Dependency grammar trees are again used to illustrate the point:. The trees illustrate when shifting can occur. English sentence structures that grow down and to the right are easier to process.
There is a consistent tendency to place heavier constituents to the right, as is evident in the a-trees. Shifting is possible when the resulting structure does not contradict this tendency, as is evident in the b-trees. Note again that the particle verb constructions in orange qualify as catenae in both the a- and b-trees.
Shifting does not alter this fact. Phrasal verbs are represented in many languages by compound verbs. As a class, particle phrasal verbs belong to the same category as the separable verbs of other Germanic languages. For example in Dutch , de lamp aansteken to light the lamp becomes, in a principal clause , ik steek de lamp aan I light the lamp on.
Similarly, in German , das Licht einschalten to switch on the light becomes ich schalte das Licht ein I switch the light on. A few phrasal verbs exist in some Romance languages such as Lombard due to the influence of ancient Lombardic: Some of this verbs are used also in Italian for lombard influences, some in all the language as "far fuori" , other only in Lombardy as mangiare fuori.
If the particle is in first place, then the phrasal noun is never written with a hyphen, if the particle comes second, then there is sometimes a hyphen between the two parts of the phrasal noun. The two categories have different values. Particle-verb compounds in English are of ancient development, and are common to all Germanic languages, as well as to Indo-European languages in general.
Some such compound nouns have a corresponding phrasal verb but some do not, partly because of historical developments. Modern English has no exact verbal phrase equivalent to the older set on , but rather various combinations that apply different nuances to the idea of starting a process—such as winter has set in , set off on a journey , set up the stand , set out on a day trip , etc.
Verb-particle compounds are a more modern development in English, and focus more on the action expressed by the compound. That is to say, they are more overtly verbal. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Not to be confused with verb phrase. See for instance Huddleston and Pullum Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English, A — Page 45 "The term multi-word verb can be used as a cover term for phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, prepositional phrasal verbs and combinations like put an end to.
Many other grammars, in contrast, distinguish between prepositional verbs the additional word is a preposition and phrasal verbs the additional word is a particle. A Course Book and Reference Page " The Adverb Insertion Test — Earlier, we saw that intransitive phrasal verbs usually do not permit the insertion of an adverb between the verb and the particle, and the same is true of transitive phrasal verbs, as 25a and 25b show.
In contrast, prepositional verbs do permit adverb insertion, as 25c demonstrates. The Relative Clause Test Relative clauses in which the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition permit the two patterns shown in The man [that they were waiting for] was late b. The man [ for whom they were waiting] was late.
In 26a , the preposition for is at the end of the relative clause enclosed by square brackets, but 26b shows that this preposition can also occur at the beginning of the clause before the relative pronoun whom.
DeCarrico The structure of English: These structures are called prepositional phrasal verbs or multiword verbs. Examples are put up with e. This exercise on the English File website features both types of verbs under the term "phrasal verbs".
Verbs and their satellites. In The handbook of linguistics, ed. Collins Cobuild English Grammar Speech and language processing. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Longman dictionary of English idioms. Macmillan phrasal verbs plus dictionary. The Oxford companion to the English language. English phrasal verbs in use.
Construction Grammar meets Dependency Grammar. Cognitive Linguistics 23, 1, — Oxford phrasal verbs dictionary. Lexical categories and their features. Collateral Demonstrative Nominalized Possessive Postpositive.
Inflected Casally modulated Stranded. Article Demonstrative Interrogative Possessive Quantifier. Discourse Interrogative Modal Noun Possessive.
English phrasal verbs in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.