Phrasal Verbs, Prepositional Verbs – Differences & Similarities
What are the differences and similarities between Phrasal and Prepositional Verbs?
Two-word verbs can be Phrasal Verbs or Prepositional Verbs.
Phrasal Verbs often have a very different (idiomatic) meaning from the meanings of the two parts taken separately.
- verb: turn
- adverb: up
- Phrasal Verb: turn up – Susan turned up last night (= appeared, not turn + up).
What is the difference between a preposition and an adverb and why this distinction is important.
An object can go before or after an adverb – but it can only go after a preposition. So:
- Phrasal Verbs can be separated
- Prepositional Verbs must not be separated.
- correct: verb + object + adverb → She switched the light off.
- correct: verb + adverb + object → She switched off the light.
- correct: verb + preposition + object → I will look after the children.
- incorrect: verb +
object + preposition → I will look the children after.
Note: Some adverbs can be also used as a preposition. You should use a good dictionary to find out whether the word is an adverb or a preposition. We have put some Phrasal and Prepositional Verbs examples together in a list.