Phrasal Verbs and Adjectives

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Steve and Jill discuss the importance of phrasal verbs as well as the use of adjectives.

Steve: Steve: Hi Jill.

Jill: Hi Steve.

Steve: What are we going to talk about today?

Jill: Well, Rosie would like us to speak a little bit about phrasal verbs, which we’ve done before on some other podcasts and so, I guess that’s what we’re going to speak about, phrasal verbs.

Steve: Well, you know, phrasal verbs is one of these subjects that is talked about a lot in English learning just as modals, okay: would, could, should, might, may, whatever, can.

Phrasal verbs, it’s really not that difficult.

I mean I have a book here.

It’s Longman’s Phrasal Verbs Dictionary and if we look through it, basically, what we’re talking about is the combination of a verb with a preposition or a direction.

So, we can, you know, “knuckle down”, “knuckle under”.

We can “knock out”, “knock over”.

We can, you know, “hold together”, “hold up”, “hold to”, “hold up as”.

The problem with the phrasal verbs is that it’s not always obvious.

If you just took like “hold up as”, you know, you hold someone up as an example of, you know, hard work or something.

You know, “hold to”.

You’re going to hold someone to something.

You know, you said you were going to stay late and finish your work.

Now you want to go home early, no, I’m going to hold you to it.

Jill: Exactly.

Steve: So, hold to, yeah, it’s not obvious. Short of taking this dictionary and studying it…

Jill: …and memorizing a whole book.

Steve: And my experience is that you won’t be successful in using them.

What I think people should do is to become, as we always say, become a little…you know, start to notice these phrasal verbs.

If there are some that you see and you don’t understand what they mean, you can either look them up; you can get yourself Longman’s Phrasal Verbs Dictionary.

Jill: And I think there are thousands of phrasal verb dictionaries.

Steve: You can go and Google phrasal verbs and you’ll find online phrasal verbs dictionaries and if it’s “going in”, “going up” or “bump into”, “bump off”, “bump up”, just look up “bump” and you’ll get all of the, you know, phrasal verbs.

Jill: The bottom line is sort of that there are thousands of phrasal verbs, so there’s no way we could possibly teach them all to people.

Steve: And, you know, people get frustrated for no good reason.

You know, if you see a phrasal verb and you say I know the word “bump” and I know the word “up”, but I don’t know what “bump up” means and then you get frustrated.

Don’t get frustrated.

It’s a new term for you; you’re not going to know what it means.

Look it up, which is easy enough to do on the Internet.

If our dictionary provides you with a translation for that term, that’s great.

It won’t always do that, unfortunately, because the dictionary…we may get a better dictionary, but right now it doesn’t always do that.

You may have to go to Google, put it in, save it as a term “bump up”, save it in your system.

You’ll probably find more examples within our library of where these terms are used.

If that phrasal verb doesn’t generate a lot of examples in LingQ, probably it’s not that common; don’t worry about it.

There won’t be, necessarily, a carryover.

Like “bump up”, to “bump up” is to push someone up, you know, you bump them up in terms of seniority or in terms of importance or priority.

Jill: But if you bump into somebody…

Steve: Exactly, you meet them on the street.

But I was going to say that, you know, “kick up” may not relate to “bump up”.

Jill: Right.

Steve: Because we say kick up a storm.

Jill: Kick up your heels.

Steve: Kick up your heels, so there’s a very good point.

You know, sometimes the phrasal verb has to include more than the verb and the preposition or the direction word it also includes the next word, so we’re now talking about a full-blown phrase.

I think the only advice I would give is if you’re interested in phrasal verbs save them.

If our dictionary doesn’t give a definition, look on Google and put the meaning into your Hint and start noticing them and start noticing the examples and reviewing the examples of where they’re used.

You may not find much of a pattern.

Jill: That’s the thing and as we’ve mentioned many times before, the individual words, generally, have nothing to do with the meaning of the full phrasal verb.

Steve: Well, I wouldn’t say that they have nothing to do with it, but it’s difficult to come up with the meaning in your own language based on “go up”.

Yeah, “go up”, maybe.

“Give up”, no, no.

Give up means to yield, so I think “throw up” means something else.

As we say, I think they have to be looked upon individually.

There is no overarching theory or explanation there that’s going to help.

So, I don’t know if that helps, but that’s where we would like to start the discussion on phrasal verbs.

If people have other comments we’d be very happy to hear them.

Jill: I was going to say too, if you are a LingQ member, a Plus or Premium member, you can also — when you save a phrasal verb like that — click on the Ask Your Tutor link right in the LingQ widget and then you can post on the Ask Your Tutor Forum: Please help me with this verb, I don’t understand it.

Steve: Right. Now, I think the same person who asked you about phrasal verbs also asked about adverbs and adjectives.

Jill: She mentioned adjectives, yeah.

Steve: You know, again, we don’t have more information than that to go on but, to some extent, yeah, obviously when you look up a word in the dictionary it will tell you whether it’s an adjective or an adverb.

Typically, an adverb is used to describe a verb or an adjective.

Jill: Adjective, yeah.

Steve: I think if this distinction is important to you then you might, you know, use your Tags, collect all your adjectives in one Tag List, so that you can review your adjectives.

Obviously, there are certain endings that suggest it’s an adjective.

If it ends in “ive”, adjective, okay, adjective, “ive”, so: active, impulsive, repulsive and so forth.

Jill: An adjective always describes a noun.

Steve: Yeah, an adjective always describes a noun.

Jill: So, a person is beautiful. You know, that girl over there is beautiful, so that’s an adjective, beautiful.

Steve: Right. You could have more than one adjective.

She’s tall and beautiful or she’s short and beautiful.

I think one of the issues is where do the adjectives go.

I think that causes some problems because in some languages they come after and in some they come before.

Jill: And in French it depends on the length of the adjective.

Steve: Right.

Jill: Usually the shorter ones come before and then the longer ones come after.

Steve: Right.

But, here again, I think these are things that, yeah, if you again Googled adjectives you’d probably find some rules.

How useful those rules are will depend, you know, on the person, but if you were to save some common adjectives where you already know the meaning, you know, as I say over and over again, don’t just save words that you don’t know, save words in order to create examples.

If you have trouble with adjectives, whatever the difficulty might be…

Jill: Save “nice” and “pretty” and “beautiful.”

Steve: “Green.”

Jill: “Green”, yeah.

Steve: Because you know you’re going to get 25 examples and then you can review each example.

Not only will you have a chance to review these examples and see the order in which these adjectives show up, very often, if these examples come from content that, hopefully, you’ve been listening to it will be a familiar context and all of this will help trigger that ability to remember and to remember it when you need it.

So, by all means, you know, if you are the kind of person who likes to have more of an explanation than we’ve given you here off the cuff, because very often the native speaker doesn’t have a lot of these explanations, if you like more explanations there’s no shortage of explanations on the Web.

If you looked up adjectives and rules and stuff you’ll find lots, but I would still recommend, with or without the explanations, that you use the functions of LingQ to create some real examples that come from context that is familiar to you, so you can see how these adjectives are used.

In our Vocabulary Section use the Tags, you know, or you can even search by “ive” or “al” and so forth, which are adjective endings and so forth.

And I think you have to go to an appointment.

Jill: I do, I’m sorry.

Steve: So, we’re going to stop it right there.

Thank you very much Jill.

Jill: Thank you, bye, bye.

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