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Ask Doctor English
Your ESL and English language learning specialist. Ask Dr. English whatever you like about the English language.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Do you find learning Phrasal Verbs confusing? Well, don’t worry - you are not alone. Most students struggle with all the various meanings of the many phrasal verbs in the English language.

There are many reasons why phrasal verbs are confusing. Often the meaning of a phrasal verb is very different from the meaning of the verb alone. As well, the same phrasal verb may have more than one meaning. For example:
TURN – to move in a new direction
Ex: Please turn right at the next corner.
TURN DOWN – 1. To reject; 2. To reduce the volume of a TV or stereo.
Ex: The university turned down my application.
Ex: John! Turn down the music!

A great way to help you to learn phrasal verbs is to always link the phrasal verb with a particular image or situation in your mind. For example, when I hear the phrasal verb TURN DOWN, I imagine myself reducing the volume on the TV (and I imagine my mother’s angry expression!). As well, when I think of TURN DOWN, I can imagine myself asking someone out on a date and being rejected :( . Linking a phrasal verb to a particular idea or situation can help you to remember how and when to use it.

If you would like more information on WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.


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