English Language

Parts of Speech and their Function in Sentences



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The English language contains several phrasal verbs. They are verbs which consist of a verb and a preposition. In certain cases, phrasal verbs may consist of even more than one preposition such as the phrasal verb "put up with" which is composed of a verb and two prepositions. All phrasal verbs can be further classified as separable or inseparable.

The phrasal verbs "pick up" and "take out" are separable while "look at" and "think of" are inseparable. With separable phrasal verbs, the object can be placed between the verb and the preposition. For example, with the separable phrasal verb "pick up", it is possible to say both "I will pick Peter up" and "I will pick up Peter". Likewise, both "I will take the garbage out" and "I will take out the garbage" are acceptable. In the examples "I will pick Peter up" and "I will take the garbage out", the verb and the preposition are separated from one another. This is the reason they are called separable phrasal verbs.

With inseparable phrasal verbs, the verb and the preposition are never separated from one another. This is the case with the phrasal verbs "look at" and "think of". The sentences "I am looking at the tree" and "I am thinking of a name for the baby" place the object after the phrasal verb. The object cannot be placed before the preposition. This is the structure of inseparable phrasal verbs.
With personal object pronouns, however, the pronoun must go between the verb and preposition of separable phrasal verbs. For example, "I will pick Peter up" and " I will pick up Peter" can only be expressed with the sentence "I will pick him up" when an object pronoun is substituted. The phrasal verb is separable because the pronoun comes between the verb and the preposition.

In the case of inseparable phrasal verbs, the object pronoun must be placed at the end. For example, "I am looking at the tree" is replaced with "I am looking at it". The phrasal verb is inseparable because the object pronoun cannot be placed between the verb and the preposition.

The examples "Pick me up" and "Take it out" show separable phrasal verbs in which the pronoun occurs between the verb and the preposition. On the contrary, the examples "Look at me" and "Think of them" show inseparable phrasal verbs in which the pronoun occurs after the phrasal verb. The structures indicate whether the phrasal verb is separable or inseparable.

Phrasal verbs are common verbs in English. All of them can be classified as separable or inseparable. Since the structures of separable and inseparable verbs are different, it is important to be familiar with their correct use.

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