The language of informal English: Phrasal verbs, colloquialisms & idioms. OMG there are 15,000 page books and complete websites, which solely focus on these topics and even natives pick up new titbits here & there on a daily basis – I know I do, especially when it comes to ‘idioms’.
So before we go any further what are phrasal verbs, colloquialisms and idioms. Phrasal verbs are ‘verb phrases including a verb and one or more prepositions’ (which are grammatically known as ‘adverbials’ because they add to verbs) and are often used by natives as a replacements for more standard words. For instance “to put something e.g. meeting off” means the same as “to postpone” a meeting”. So you could say “The meeting has been put off” instead of “The meeting has been postponed.”
The tricky thing for learners is that most phrasal verbs don’t really make it easy to understand them. Everyone understands ‘put’ and ‘off’ but together, what can it mean. Add the word ‘meeting’ & ‘put off’ & a context, then maybe you can guess the meaning. Other phrasal verbs, however, even without an object/context can be easy to understand, take ‘put down’ e.g. “Put it down before you drop it” any parents out there will be fluent in this phrasal verb, but did you know, if you simply replace the ‘it’ with an animal “We had to put the dog down”, it means to put the dog to sleep? Shocking the difference a word can make, eh?
I call phrasal verbs the secret language of the natives and have included a couple of ‘Secret Language Of The Natives (SLN) blog posts’ in my book Workplace English Toolkit (WET). Buy below. https://teatimetitbits.de/downloads/your-busines-english-workplace-toolkit/
and will be more in the updated version in January 2020. As they are a grammar to themselves many grammar book have sections on phrasal verbs.
My highly recommended book is Murphy (Buy below through my affiliate link – thanx !!!!) https://amzn.to/2B9r0X5 (I get a small commission at no extra cost to you!!!)
Next up, a ‘colloquialism’ is a word or phrase that is used in conversation but not in FORMAL speech or writing and guess what a synonym of the adjective ‘colloquial’ is? INFORMAL. Finally, idioms, a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words e.g. ‘Let the cat out of the bag’ is an idiom meaning to tell a secret by mistake.
Thanx Oxford (Advanced) Learner’s Dictionary (OALD) www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com as ever for providing an expert definition and example to boot.
If you subscribe to the Teatime Titbit weekly newsletter, I always signpost the ‘Phrasal Verb Of The Day’ (PVOTD) and ‘Idiom Of The Day (IOTD) so you can add them to your lists.
solely (ausschlieblich), for instance (zum Beispiel), to postpone (verschieben), to replace (etw ersetzen), to boot (obendrein), to subscribe to sth (abonnieren).