Learn Phrasal Verbs: Activities

Are you having problems with phrasal verbs? You are not alone! Here are some exercises to help you learn and use some common phrasal verbs.

What is a Phrasal Verb?

A phrasal verb is when a normal verb goes with an adverb or a preposition. e.g. “pick up” is a phrasal verb which combines the verb “pick” with a preposition “to.

Many students have difficulties with phrasal verbs. There are 3 common reasons for this:

  1. Students often see a phrasal verb as 2 separate words – i.e. they don’t learn the phrase. It’s important to remember a phrasal verb as one verb, not two words.
  2. The meaning of the phrasal verb is often unrelated to the meaning of the verb and the preposition. e.g. “to work out” means to calculate, but this meaning is not clear from the 2 words “work” and “out”.
  3. Students often forget which preposition / adverb to use when writing or speaking. This makes their language unnatural or hard to understand.

Just a quick note though: academic writing generally prefers single word verbs to phrasal verbs (e.g. it prefers “research” to “look up“). So don’t use too many phrasal verbs in your writing. However, they are used and it is important to be aware of them and how to use them.

Phrasal Verb Exercises

In this page, you can find some activities to help you learn and use phrasal verbs. These activities are best done on a desktop or laptop computer. Good luck!

Exercise 1a

Exercise 1b

Exercise 2a

Exercise 2b

Exercise 2c

Exercise 3: come, get, give, go or look

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Charles Cornelius is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. He has worked for some of the major English language schools including International House, IDP and The British Council. He holds a MA in Education from the University of Bath. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 80,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

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