Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phrasal verbs and particles, I think my head is going to explode

Ok, they're not that bad. They're mysterious words for a simple concept. At first phrasal verbs appear to be verbs followed by a preposition. But it's not a preposition at all, it's a particle disguised as a preposition. Together the verb and the particle make up an idiom ("make up" is a phrasal verb).

This is why it's ok to sometimes end a sentence with a preposition, as long as it's actually a particle. Make sense? No? I don't get it either. Keep reading.

You can rip a particle out of its disguise as a preposition by moving it to the end of the sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, the "preposition" is actually a particle, and the verb is a phrasal verb. Now, some examples:

He powered up the computer. can also be written He powered the computer up.

Subject = He
Verb (phrasal verb) = powered up
Particle = up
Direct object = computer
Determiner (article) = the

He powered up the hill. cannot be written He powered the hill up. and retain the same meaning.

Subject = He
Verb  = powered
Prepositional phrase (adverb)= up the hill
Object of the preposition = hill

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