How Can I Learn Important Phrasal Verbs Quickly?

Is there a way to learn phrasal verbs quickly?

Most of the time, you don’t need to know fancy phrases to communicate beautifully - all you need are a couple of the most important phrasal verbs. It’s similar to learning only the most common idioms and then using them to spice conversations up. 

But, is there a way to memorize phrasal verbs quickly similar to the tricks for memorizing important idioms in a jiffy? There is. However, even with our help, it might be best to consider finding the best English language school in San Diego and attending a class or two. Just read our guide first and be prepared. 

Is there a way to learn phrasal verbs quickly?

Sure there is. In fact, there are several methods, as well as a couple of tricks, that can help you memorize phrasal verbs quickly and efficiently. It’s all quite simple, mind you. No need for the California Department of Education professional help.

So, let’s see if we can ease your path toward becoming proficient with phrasal verbs with several pieces of advice:

1. Grouping - Never group your phrasal verbs by verb when trying to learn them. You’ll end up with a mishmash of get ups and get overs you won’t know how to use. Instead, group them by prepositions. 

It makes it easier to remember the general meaning of each preposition and how that meaning affects the meaning of the verb used together with it. 

2. Context - Trying to learn phrasal verbs just by attempting to memorize them together with their meanings will get you on a fast track on the road to nowhere at all. You may end up knowing the meaning, but you’ll have no idea how to use it.

That is why you should always try to learn phrasal verbs by placing them in context, i.e. an entire sentence. That way, you’ll even have a finished template in case you ever have to think of a phrasal verb on the spot. 

3. Music - There are few ways that have shown better results when learning phrasal verbs than using music to do so. Ever heard of earworms? Songs you can’t help but sing throughout the day once you hear them in the morning?

Well, music will make phrasal worms out of phrasal verbs. We think this pun works. Sort of? Nevermind. Just open Google, type in a phrasal verb + “lyrics”, see the song that uses that phrasal verb, play it on YouTube, and that’s it!

4. Stories - Finally, try to create stories that revolve around several different phrasal verbs. Remembering a story is a lot easier than remembering three or four isolated phrasal verbs. 

Nobody says the story has to be in the form of a Cinderella or a Little Red Riding Hood. You can create brief remembrances of your everyday life and learn phrasal verbs like that. Find a story type that works for you!

How many types of phrasal verbs are there?

When it comes to speaking about the different types of phrasal verbs, there are several different ways in which phrasal verbs differ. We’re going to try and present the four main categories commonly used to differentiate between various phrasal verbs.

1. Transitive vs. intransitive - Transitive phrasal verbs are those phrasal verbs that have to be followed by an object. 

  • I gave up smoking two years ago.
  • You have to fill out this form.
  • Can you look after the kids today?    

Intransitive phrasal verbs, on the other hand, do not require an object, and you can freely use only them and still convey the meaning correctly.

  • We broke up yesterday.
  • He got angry and ran out.
  • She simply passed out

2. Separable vs. inseparable - You can separate some phrasal verbs, while you cannot separate others. Additionally, some phrasal verbs you can separate, but you don’t have to. That’s English for you. 

And, by separate, we mean separate the verb from the preposition or adverb, like this:

  • He will turn up soon. You can’t say “He will turn soon up.”
  • My car broke down yesterday. Not “My car broke yesterday down.” 

Some phrasal verbs, as we’ve mentioned, you can separate:

  • You can turn my offer down. This is completely correct.
  • Could you please chop the veggies up? Again, completely appropriate!

3. Multiple meanings - Now, there are some phrasal verbs that have more than one meaning, making them a nightmare for language learners. But, you should know they exist, even if they are a bit tricky to learn.

  • Work out - It can either mean that something will transpire successfully (My plan worked out without a hitch.), or it can have to do with exercising (I am going to work out later today.)
  • Take off - When you take some time off work, you go on holiday and stop working for a period of time. But, if you take off your shoes, you remove your shoes from your feet. Finally, if a business takes off, it becomes successful very quickly. 

    Yeah, we know, it’s a lot to take in…

4. Three words - Finally, there are phrasal verbs which consist of not two, but three words. Let us give you just a couple of examples:

  • Look up to - When you look up to somebody, they are your role model and you want to become as they are.
  • Catch up with - If you’re behind on work, for example, you need to catch up with it and bring all your affairs in order.
  • Get away with - This means that you got off scot free after doing something that would, otherwise, bring some consequences down upon you. 

How many phrasal verbs should I know?

As many as you want to. Or - you should know a phrasal verb for every occasion. Perhaps you should only learn phrasal verbs that sound cool to you, or the ones that you’ve heard your friend using.

All joking aside, there really is no “set number of basic phrasal verbs every English learner should know if he or she wants to become a true speaker of the language!”. Try to learn a couple, to begin with, and then one or two every week to enrich your vocabulary. 

Aside from that, we have only one final piece of advice for you - stay away from complicated and unusual phrasal verbs you cannot remember the meaning of at least until you master the common ones. 

“What is the best language school for English in San Diego for my phrasal verb studies?”

If you feel you need a lesson or two, just to make sure you’ve got your phrasal verbs right where you want them, there’s really only one language school in San Diego you should think about - College of English Language.

We are the leaders when it comes to teaching English to those willing to learn, and we employ only modern methods while doing so. Trust us, attending our classes is better than walking around Balboa Park trying to catch glimpses of phrasal verbs. Let us be your school of choice!