Phrasal verbs with a verb + preposition
Some phrasal verbs consist of a verb followed by a proposition. However, in the case of a phrasal verb, the verb followed by the preposition forms an expression with an idiomatic meaning. For example, the phrasal verb to come across is an idiomatic expression with the meaning to find. Similarly, the phrasal verb to frown on is an idiomatic expression with the meaning to disapprove of.
- We came across an old diary while we were cleaning out the attic.
- The workers frown on the practice of smoking in the office.
NOTE: It should be noted that some phrasal verbs consisting of a verb followed by a preposition can be used in the passive voice.
- The practice of smoking in the office was frowned on by the workers.
- The children were looked after by their aunt.
ç The following are some examples of phrasal verbs which consist of a verb followed by a preposition and each phrasal verb has its meaning.
be patient with
be near, be next to
enter by force
share a secret
use a short route
get rid of
say more about
say more about
become involved with
examine in detail
look good with
become more attractive to
mock, make fun of
turn the pages
take care of
give up reluctantly
be unkind to
hunt and eat; disturb
try to persuade
be superior to
injured by a vehicle
not be deceived by
ask to be sent
support in a dispute
sit and endure
resemble an ancestor
1) The position of an object of the preposition
The object of preposition usually follows the preposition, whether the object is a noun or a pronoun. In the following examples, the objects are underlined.
- We have launched into a new project. or
- We have launched into a new it.
NOTE: In these examples, the noun project and the pronoun it are the objects of the preposition into of the phrasal verb to launch into. Both the noun object and pronoun object follow the preposition.
2) The position of an adverb of manner modifying the verb
If a verb is followed by a preposition, an adverb of manner may be placed between the verb and the preposition. In the following examples, the adverbs of manner are underlined.
- They reasoned patiently with the little girl.
- I leafed quickly through the book.
NOTE: In the first example, the adverb of manner patiently is placed between the verb reasoned and the preposition with of the phrasal verb to reason with. In the second example, the adverb of manner quickly is placed between the verb leafed and the preposition through of the phrasal verb to leaf through.
3) Stress in spoken English
When a verb followed by a preposition occurs at the end of a clause, it is usually the verb which is stressed in spoken English. In the following examples, the words which are stressed are printed in boldtype.
- No one likes to be laughed at.
- I need someone to confide in.
NOTE: In the first example, the verb laughed followed by the preposition at occurs at the end of a clause and the verb laughed is stressed. In the second example, the verb confide followed by the preposition in occurs at the end of a clause, and the verb confide is stressed.
ç It should be noted that, when used in a phrasal verb at the end of a clause, the prepositions after, into, and over are often pronounced with somewhat greater emphasis than the verb. In this case, both the verb and the preposition are stressed.
- The twins are easy to look after.
- The building would be difficult to break into.
- You’ll never guess whom I ran into.
- I heard that someone was run over.
ç The prepositions above, across, and through are also occasionally emphasized in this way.
Example: The research papers were difficult to wade through.
4) Expressions in which the verb has an object
In the case of some phrasal verbs consisting of a verb followed by a preposition, the verb and the prepositions may each have an object. In the following examples, the objects are underlined.
- I can make nothing of the situation.
- We talked my sister into agreeing.
NOTE: In the first example, the verb make of the phrasal verb to make of has the object nothing, and the preposition of has the object situation. In the second example, the verb talked of the phrasal verb to talk into has the object sister, and the prepositioninto has the object agreeing.
ç The following examples of the phrasal verbs consisting of a verb followed by a preposition, where the verb may have an object and each phrasal verb has its meaning.
teach by repetition
control by fear
allow to share
find other meanings
order to attack
add to in writing