Level Up English Podcast Phrasal Verbs Prepositions Episode 227

Do Phrasal Verbs Need Prepositions?

I had a listener question about Phrasal Verbs and why some of them use prepositions even though the meaning seems to be the same without them.

Can we say “Check it” and “Check it out”? What’s the difference?

I break down this question in detail and also talk about the difference between literal and idiomatic phrasal verbs.

I hope you learn a lot today in this useful and information-packed episode.

How to Learn Phrasal Verbs

As I often say, phrasal verbs must be learnt individually and there aren’t any clear-cut rules to explain them all.

Fortunately, most of the phrasal verbs you need to know are really common and used all the time. If you learn just a few, you can get by in many different situations. Get in the habit of researching them whenever you hear a new one, and research the difference between the verb alone and the phrasal verb.

Phrasal Verbs that (kind of) make sense without the prepositions

Break Down

  • Full phrasal verb: “The car broke down on the highway.”
  • Verb without preposition: “The car broke on the highway.”

Fill in

  • Full phrasal verb: “Please fill in the form with your details.”
  • Verb without preposition: “Please fill the form with your details.”

Call Back

  • Full phrasal verb: “She called him back later in the day.”
  • Verb without preposition: “She called him later in the day.”

Phrasal Verbs that need the preposition

Look up

  • Incorrect without preposition: “She looked the information.” ❌ 
  • Correct with preposition: “She looked up the information.” ✅

Put off

  • Incorrect without preposition: “They put the meeting.” ❌ 
  • Correct with preposition: “They put off the meeting.” ✅ 

Turn on

  • Incorrect without preposition: “He turned the lights.” ❌
  • Correct with preposition: “He turned on the lights.” ✅ 

Know more examples? Leave them in the comments below!

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