Friday, 9 November 2007

Phrasal Verbs - Break Down

Today I posted a video on Youtube (which you can see here) explaining a little about phrasal verbs.

A phrasal verb is when we take a verb and either an adverb or a preposition and combine them to make a new combination that is slightly different in meaning from the original verb meaning. In fact depending on the context of the sentence the phrasal verb may well have more than one meaning!

I looked at the verb BREAK and the adverb DOWN and gave two examples;

1) The accountant took the companies figures and broke them down.
In this example we see that the phrasal verb combination of break and down refer to a specific noun (in this case the figures) and as a result the meaning, is to separate something into its component parts

To break something down = To separate something into its component parts.

2) I was driving to work when my car broke down.
In this example we see that the same phrasal verb combination refer again to a specific noun (the car) and how it is no longer working.

To break down = To no longer work correctly.

As you can see from these from these examples phrasal verbs can be very difficult.
It is almost impossible to learn phrasal verbs by using a formula in the way you would if you were learning a grammar tense.
The most important thing to remember it that phrasal verbs can only be formed by combining a verb with an adverb or a verb with a preposition.
There are some great free lists of phrasal verbs which explain their combination and their meanings and you can find some on my website by clicking here.
But the bottom line is you will have to sit down and learn them, just like you did when you were learning your irregular verbs!

My top two learning tips are:

1) Start with sector specific learning, what area do you work in? What area are you studding in? Learn these verbs first, then move to the general phrasal verbs

2) When you come across a new phrasal verb, pay attention, the context it is used in will help you figure out the meaning. Then remember it!

I will do some more phrasal verbs here soon. In the mean time click here to visit my website for some online English learning.