Phrasal verbs vs. prepositional verbs: position of the object
How we form phrasal and prepositional verbs
|Structure of phrasal verbs|
|A phrasal verb can be made up of:|
|a verb + adverb||throw away|
|a verb + adverb + preposition||put up with|
|Structure of prepositional verbs|
|A prepositional verb is made up of:|
|a verb + preposition||look after, look at, wait for, think about, talk about, complain about|
Position of the object of a phrasal verb
With a phrasal verb (verb + adverb), the position of the object (a noun) is flexible, i.e. it can sit either between the verb and the adverb or after the adverb:
She took her coat off.
(The object her coat is between the verb and the adverb.)
- She took off her coat.
(The object her coat is after the adverb.)
When the object is a pronoun (him, her, us, them, etc.), it must sit between the verb and the adverb:
She took it off.
took off it
Position of the object of a prepositional verb
With prepositional verbs (verb + preposition), the position of the object—regardless of whether it’s a noun or pronoun—is not flexible. The object must sit after the preposition:
We looked after the children.
looked the children after
- We looked after them.
looked them after
Phrasal verbs: the object can sit before or after the particle (but not when the object is a pronoun).
Prepositional verbs: the object always comes directly after the preposition.