GYG Day 61. SLN 3 Deep dive into the grammar of phrasal verbs.

On day 58, I introduced the Secret Language of the Natives (phrasal verbs) and talked about the basics of using them.

What I didn’t tell you then – silly me – is that there are two major types of phrasal verbs. Ones, which take an object (a noun, (sth) or a person (sb)) CAN separate, and others which don’t an object CAN’T be separated. Let’s walk through an example together, please go to and type in ‘look up’.

Type 1. CAN’T separate.

The first thing is you find out that it can mean to become better or improve.

Next in this example ‘look up’, you don’t see any object (sth/sb etc.), which means the phrasal verb CAN’T be separated, the ‘up’ (adverb) follows the verb.

“At last things are starting to look up.

Type 2. CAN separate.

Scrolling down the page, you will come to ‘look sb up’ with the strange sign ‘↔’. You’ve guessed it, it takes an object (in this case a person ‘sb’) and the ‘sb’ is positioned between the verb (look) and adverb (up). The sign is used to show us that it CAN be separated.

“Do look me* (sb) up the next time you are in London.”

Scrolling down still further, you find “to look something (sth) up”, which means to search for information in a book/computer. Like above, the word ‘sth’ tells us it takes an object (sth), and the position of the word tells us that the phrasal verb can be separated. You see this example in the Oxford dictionary:

“Can you look up the opening times (sth) on the website?”

 If the object (sth) is a noun (opening times), it can come BEFORE (see below) or AFTER (see above) the adverb,

“Can you look the opening times (sth) up on the website?”

*However, if the object (sth) is a pronoun (e.g. ‘me’, ‘it’), it must come BEFORE the adverb (up)

“I looked it (sth) up in the dictionary.”

So that was it in a nutshell. Hope it cleared things up for you! = to solve/explain sth

QOTD What kind of a phrasal verb is ‘clear up’ in the above situation? If unsure click on this link and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

P.S. I would like to recommend the following book “English Phrasal Verbs in Use (Intermediate)” by Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell. It is a wonderfully thought through phrasal verb resource book because it is divided into ‘topic-based chapters ’ from ‘The basics’ and ‘Key verbs/particles (adverbs)’, to ‘Functions’ and ‘The world around us’. These chapters are in turn split up into smaller topic units like ‘Success & failure’ (unit 27), ‘Giving and getting information’ (unit 35) or even ‘Health & sport’ (units 56 & 57 respectively).

If you decide to buy the book through my Amazon affiliate link, it would help to support my work and to NO EXTRA costs for you. Many thanx.

the basics (die Grundlagen), “silly me” (Ich Dummerchen), to look sb up (jdn besuchen), however (jedoch), in a nutshell (in aller Kürze), to clear things up (Dinge aufklären), to recommend (etw empfehlen), to be well thought through (wohldurchdacht), to divide into (sich in etw gliedern), in turn (hier: wiederum), to split up into (sich in etw aufteilen), respectively (bzw.), to decide (sich entschieden)

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