Two Word Verbs

Phrasal verbs or Two Word Verbs

Since there is a large number of Two word verbs (verb and preposition / adverb combination), which makes the non-native speakers misunderstand their meanings, this Website is designed as a reference to help advanced students of English as a foreign language increase their vocabulary by giving them the expressions, their definitions, and the illustrative sentences.

Students are encouraged to study and review the illustrations and use the expressions as often as situations allow, keeping in mind, however, that most of these expressions are used in spoken English.



In the development of Modern English, certain prepositions (adverbs) have come to be closely and habitually associated with certain verbs, which somehow change the meaning of the verbs.  The two words together function as a single verb in a sentence pattern and have a single meaning different from the individual meanings of the two parts, these combinations are often called TWO-WORD VERBS, i.e. get up- means to arise from bed.

Though they are not to be found in all dictionaries, some of them are very important in conversational English and need to be learned and practiced.



Always has an object may or may not have an object never has an object


1. Inseparable two-word verbs are those whose objects never occur between the two parts off the verb.


Professor Rodriguez called on the Allens last week.

George’s father got over his illness by spring.

2. Separable two-word verbs permit the object between the two parts in certain cases and require it there in others:

2.1. Short noun objects are not modified by a phrase or a clause may occur between the two parts of the verb or after the second part.

Professor Rodriguez called his secretary up.

Professor Rodriguez called up his secretary.


2.2. Long noun objects including phrases or clauses never split the two word verb. They occur after it.

Professor Rodriguez called up the lady who works in his office.


2.3 Pronoun objects always occur between the two parts of a separable two-word verb.

Professor Rodriguez called her up.



These is la large number of two word verbs in English, no one knows how many they are.   They are more common in speech than in writing, but some of them occur regularly in writing as there is no other natural way of expressing the same meanings.

British and American two-word verbs differ rather more than other vocabulary items, and this fact sometimes leads to some very amusing misinterpretations.



 Following are lists of the most common two-word verbs, together with brief definitions and examples of their use.

Their number is subdivided into several groups according to the way they pattern in sentences.


List of Group I phrasal verbs

Verb+ Prep. Adv. + Noun Object


Verb+ Object Pronoun+ Prep. Adv.



List of Group II phrasal verbs

V+ Prep. Adv. + (pro) Noun Object


In this group are two word verbs whose parts are never separated by an object.  They may be separated by other words such as adverbs, but not by an object.




List of Group III phrasal verbs

This is the smallest group of two-word verbs.  The verbs in this group are usually intransitive but a few of these may sometimes occur with objects (already listed in groups I and II)


March 22, 2015