The two-word “verb phrase” is a common type of verb usage that, in writing or speaking, can sometimes be confusing. These verb phrases are idiomatic expressions that usually cannot be understood literally when on their own, and need to be combined with an “object” to make sense. For example, on its own, the expression “dropped in” is confusing and conjures up all sorts of possible meanings. However, in normal usage it means “visited unexpectedly” or “arrived without warning”.
Below is a list of common two-word verb phrases (starting with letters a to g), with examples:
ask (someone) out
Are you going to ask Angela out?
We are going to break down the project costs.
bring (something, or someone) up
I plan to bring that issue up at the meeting.
Are you going to bring John up at the hearing?
burn (something) down
They are going to burn the barn down. (also… burn down the barn.).
It will burn down if they don’t fire-proof it.
burn (something) up
He burned the papers up. (also… burned up the papers).
They will burn up if they remain in the sun.
call (something) off
I’m going to call the meeting off. (also…. call off the meeting.).
call (someone) up
She will call him up after dinner.
clean (something) up
I will clean this mess up after work. (also… clean up this mess…).
If you ever come across him please let me know.
cut (something) up
The chef cut the fish up into pieces. (also … cut up the fish…).
do (something) over
He was asked to do the task over.
drop in (on someone)
I might drop in on him when I’m in the area.
drop (something or someone) off
Please drop the plans off tonight (also … drop off the plans…).
Can you drop Aaron off after the show?
drop out (of something)
I think I will have to drop out of the class.
fill (something) up
Fill the tank up with gas please. (also… Fill up the tank…
fill (something) out
Please fill the application out. (also… fill out the application.).
I plan to get up at 5:00 a.m.
give (something) away
Give the coupon away as a bonus. (also… give away the coupon…).
give (something) back
He will give the tools back on the weekend. (also… give back the tools…).
If you give in now, it will be over.
To give up is to fail.
go out (with someone)
Will you go out with Samantha tonight?
go over (something)
I suggest you go over the statement one last time.
When they grow up they will be eligible to vote.
Those listed above are some of the more common two-word verb phrases beginning with the letters – a to g. I will be completing this series in a later post.
In general terms:
Two-word intransitive verbs do not take direct objects. [Example: I got up at sunrise.]
Two-word transitive verbs with direct objects can have particles that are separable or inseparable. [Examples: Jackson called the meeting off. Or, Jackson called off the meeting.]
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