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martes, 8 de mayo de 2012

Phrasal Verbs, by Paul Knowles.

We have a new article from Paul Knowles, our personal native English teacher from A2Z School of English ( Manchester. Phrasal verbs. Enjoy it!

When non-English speakers learn English, usually at about pre-intermediate/ Intermediate level they become aware of these things called phrasal verbs… and they then usually start to cry because these things make no sense and are completely irrational and are almost like a separate language.

But for me they are the most exciting and unique aspect of the English language, forever evolving and being invented and they are the basis of a lot of our comedy.

Everyday a new phrasal verb is invented – on the TV, in the street, in a hip-hop song, at the market. Nobody know how many there are because they are impossible to count but they make the English language what it is.

Phrasal verbs is a verb plus preposition or adverb which creates a different meaning from the original verb and often the meaning is very specific.

- I ran into my teacher at the movies last night 
(Run + into = meet by accident.)

What also happens a lot is a phrasal verb can have more than one meaning, normally completely different to each other.

- They got down to work while she got down to the music. 
Got + down = focus on something
Got + down = dance intensely to music

Sometimes phrasal verbs can be split up (separable) and some can’t. Some can be split and kept together.

-I talked my mother into letting me borrow the car.
-They are looking into the problem
-I looked up the phone number. I looked the phone number up.

Why? There is no answer, no rhyme or reason, logic or deduction they just do and you have to learn each one individually by rote. This is why learners of English start crying when they become aware of phrasal verbs.

Furthermore (or to make things worse) native English speaker use phrasal verbs all the time. We prefer them to their French, latin, greek equivalents. It is more natural and more concise and more colloquial.

- He couldn’t put up with him sounds more natural than he couldn’t tolerate him.  

For non-native speakers and English language learners it can feel like they have to start learning English again. They are difficult to find (look up) in the dictionary and hard to use correctly.

But I say embrace them and try to use them as much as possible  - get into phrasal verbs.

Top ten phrasal verbs:
1. To kick off - to start something - a fight, a football match or an argument
2. To spark up - to start a fire or open a fizzy drink
3. To wind someone up - to make someone really annoyed (derived from when you used to have to wind up a car to start it)
4. To size up (a situation) : to try to understand what is happening (going on ) in a situation
5. To super size something up - to make to much bigger (like a macdonalds)
6. To sort it out - to fix something or organise something
7. To hook up - to meet or connect with someone
8. To get down - to dance in a funky manner
9. To get into sth. - to begin to enjoy or become more involved with something
10. To big someone up - To exaggerate someone's importance  

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