I'm actually a french speaking who wants to improve his english. I've noticed that there are many expressions that sometimes don't give a hint of their meaning. They generally are composed by a verb in the infinitive followed by the word "off", "up", "out", "down", or "in", such as "let off", "call in", "put off", "turn out" and many others. What are their meanings? Are they useful and needed in the common language? If yes, can anyone help me in learning them, their meaning,and how to use them in a sentence, or in a letter.?

Thank you.
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Welcome to EF, Adomi,

We can always use another francophone here!

Yes, the 'phrasal' or 'two-word' (or 'three-word') verbs are very common in the spoken language, and you will need to learn many of them. There are far too many for me to take on here, but if you post your questions as you run across examples, we'll be happy to help you out.

There are also a number of good work books which go over these verbs in particular, and there should be a section on them, if you look them up, in your grammar book.
Thank you very much for accepting me on this forum. I learnt something new, that is, those words' name is Phrasal word, or two/three-word.

As you mentionned it, I just "came across" some examples , from your last post : TAKE ON, GO OVER...What do the mean? I mean, I knew about run across, help out,and look up, but i didn't really grab the meaning of take on and go over...Perhaps GO OVER, because of the context. Could have we used "LOOK OVER" or "GO THROUGH" in stead of GO OVER?

You may not believe it but I didn't really learn English using a standard book. I happened to read some of them but I never went above two or three chapters. But this time I really am in the need, so if you can provide me with the title of a book, or an author's name, so that I can "look it up" (is it properly used here?) in a library, it will be very goog for me.

I'm "looking forward" (is it properly used here? ) for your answer.
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Hi Adomi,

Here, 'take on' means 'attempt to define' but it more generally means 'assume responsibility for'; as with many idiomatic phrasal verbs, it has other meanings as well-- to 'hire (an employee)' or 'accept a challenge'.

In the example, it is the 'book' that 'goes over' the material, so here it means 'cover' or 'explain'. In another context, when a person 'goes over' something, it could also mean 'look over' or 'go through'.

I looked over Amazon, and came up with a lot of books on [url="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index%3Dstripbooks%26field-keywords%3Dtwo-wor... "]TWO-WORD VERBS[/url].

Properly, it is 'looking forward to something.
Practical Idioms, Using Phrasal Verbs in Everyday Contexts: Over 1000 Useful Idioms
by Louis A. Berman and Laurette Kirstein


In an attempt to lose weight, I decided to pass up bread and desserts.
.... de me passer de pain ...

After a hard day's work I don't feel up to having people over.
... je n'ai pas tres envie d'inviter ...

The newspaper reporter found out that some officials accepted bribes.
Le journaliste a decouvert que ...

Robert - Collins Dictionnaire Francais-Anglais.


Try to hold him off a little longer.
Essayez de le faire patienter encore un peu.

Good luck with English! Emotion: smile
Hi everybody,

just to say thank you to Mister Micawberi, Nona the brit, CalifJim(especially for the french translation of some of those phrasal verbs..it helped me in having a more precise idea), and all those I didn't mention here, for your help. However, I'm not done with you (I'm just joking), for yesterday, I came across another sentence which/whose (I don't know which one to use here) I didn't get the meaning at all. Here it is : "She wouldn't write if she can HELP IT ". Few minutes later, while reading a novel (that's how I practice), I came across the same expression, but used in another way : "How can I help it ?" My problem is : "HELP" What? and what does it mean?

Please don't get upset.

Thank you.
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Hi Adomi,

No upset here, we're all happy campers!

'To help (doing something)' means to avoid or prevent doing it. She didn't like writing, so she avoided it; she 'couldn't help it', so she had to do it.
I was going to open a new thread about phrasal verbs but then I saw this one and I thought that I could post my question here. I hope you'll be able to answer my question as well, here it is:

How can you tell the difference between phrasal and prepositional verbs? I know that phrasal verbs can be separated by a personal pronoun and that prepositional verbs can't be separated, but how do you know which one is phrasal and which one is prepositional in the first place if you don't know the verb and have never seen it before? Is there a rule or do you have to learn by heart?
I guess if you don't know the verb at all, you're stuck, Lana. There are no prescriptive rules, only guidelines. Greenbaum & Quirk list five differences:

(1) The particle of a prepositional verb must precede the object, but the particle of a phrasal verb can either precede or follow the d.o.

(2) When the object is a personal pronoun, it follows the particle of a prepositonal verb but precedes that of a phrasal verb.

(3) An adverb adjunct can often be inserted between verb and particle of a prepositional verb, but not in the case of a phrasal.

(4) The particle of a phrasal cannot precede a relative pronoun or wh-interrogative.

(5) The particle of a phrasal is normally stressed; that of the prepositional normally unstressed.

Try 'em out, let me know how you like 'em.
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