Thursday, July 12, 2012

Word UP: Phrasal Verbs

You may have seen a much-forwarded email about the word up. Here is a sample:
We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and
clean UP the kitchen.
The message (full text can be seen here) describes a part of the grammar topic known as phrasal verbs. The 'u' word seems to occur most the often among phrasal verbs.Many include other prepositions, such as down, in calm down, slow down, put down, settle down or back, as in talk, walk, call, come, or sit back
Some verbs recur as frequently on the list as Alec Baldwin on 'Saturday Night Live,' for instance, take (up, down, out) and give (out, back, up, over).
A larger list of phrasal verbs can be found at the website, You and your learner might play with them during your lessons. For instance, try to put together a list of the 'up' words to see what they have in common. They may gain working definitions of new verbs and start to recognize patterns. By my own working definition up is an intensifier. It signifies that you are performing an action completely, as in dress up, finish up or listen up. Learners can make vocabulary more completely their own by figuring out the meaning with your help, going from English to English. 

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