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Take Me On! Phrasal verbs: another way to trip up learners/trip learners up

November 4, 2017



Phrasal verbs (2-part verbs such as look up, find out and break down) are not something that are mentioned in the national curriculum for primary schools and they are not something I have ever really given much thought to.  However, when a talented EAL child writes, 'He took the form and filled in it' and says to you, 'I used the pronoun 'it' to avoid repetition', you realise just how tricky the English language can be - even for the most grammatically aware EAL learners.


The positioning of the pronoun in a phrasal verb was just something I instinctively knew as an English speaker.  Trying to explain this to a non-native speaker can be very difficult.


'Sometimes the pronoun has to be moved from after the phrasal verb and inserted between the 2 parts: 'figure it out', not 'figure out it' - but sometimes it can go at the end: 'get over it', not 'get it over'.  Why?... I'm sorry, I have no idea!'


Apparently, A-Ha had similar difficulties with the concept but still managed to have a hit single despite or because of it.

However, I would argue that placing the pronoun correctly is very important, especially given the current climate.


'The lady was angry and she turned me on.  No, wait...'

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Keeping IT Easy since 2014