Six ways to learn phrasal verbs in English

Lots of English learners find it difficult to remember new phrasal verbs in English.  Phrasal verbs are verbs that we use with prepositions (particles).  The verb can be used with one, or even two particles (for example, a two-particle phrasal verb: get out of).  Some phrasal verbs have different meanings depending on context.  Furthermore, if you change the particle, you generally change the meaning of the verb entirely!

Lots of English learners find it difficult to remember new phrasal verbs in English.  Phrasal verbs are verbs that we use with prepositions (particles).  The verb can be used with one, or even two particles (for example, a two-particle phrasal verb: get out of).  Some phrasal verbs have different meanings depending on context.  Furthermore, if you change the particle, you generally change the meaning of the verb entirely!

No wonder it’s the cause of many headaches for English learners.

Here are some tips to help you remember phrasal verbs, which you can also apply to word and phrase-learning in general.  If you have any tried-and-tested tips of your own, let me know in the comments!

  1. Don’t try to learn too many at once.  It’s quality, not quantity!  It’s surely more effective and time-efficient to remember five phrasal verbs out of five, than ten out of forty!
  2. As with all vocab learning, you need to make sure the words you spend time learning are going to be useful.  If the words aren’t relevant to you, you won’t use them.  If you don’t do that, you won’t remember them.
  3. Visualise and think of examples.  Imagine real-life situations where you would need to use your new phrasal verbs.  Construct a full sentence using them and picture the scenario.
  4. With phrasal verbs, my learners tend to do better when they focus on one verb plus different particles, rather then the other way round.  So for this reason, I’d recommend searching for “phrasal verbs with work” (like in this blog post) for example, and not “phrasal verbs with up”.  Once again, it’s to do with all-important relevance.
  5. Alternatively, make sure there’s a topic link between all the words you learn.  For example, search for “phrasal verbs to talk about relationships” (hyperlink).  If the words aren’t already connected to a common topic, then create an association.  I do that in my final paragraph in this post.
  6. What kind of learner are you?  If you are a visual learner, picture a situation with the new word.  If you are an aural learner, then recording the new vocab and listening to it will help.  Learners who remember things better by reading may find that simple flashcards help new verbs to sink in.  Take your time to find out what works best for you!

 

Rebecca, English Club Online

Онлайн репетитор и носитель английского языка

Online Native English Tutor

 

Remember, my blog is here to help you improve your English actively!  Now you’ve read the text, here are some phrases from the article, which you might be wondering about…

to sink in – if you suddenly understand or process new facts, information or a shock, we often say that “it [i.e. the information] has sunk in”

“He won a lot of money and it’s only just starting to sink in”.

“I’ve explained it to her lots of times but she doesn’t understand! It’s just not sinking in!”

“Marie had some really bad news last week.  She seems ok, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet”.

tried-and-tested – this means that you have experience with something.  Quite literally: you’ve tried it and you’ve tested it!

We tend to use it as a fixed, passive phrase, often with the verb to be or to take:

  • “He took a tried-and-tested approach.”
  • “You don’t need to worry about the plan.  It’s tried-and-tested”.
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