Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Phrasal Verbs

Something that has been particularly confusing for me is figuring out which phrasal verbs are considered "separable" and which are considered "inseparable." I found this site (linked at the title of this post), which lists many common separable and inseparable phrasal verbs, but I think I still get confused about some of them. Is separating a separable phrasal verb considered bad for your writing style?

For instance, is it better to say

I need to pick up my parents from the airport.

rather than

I need to pick my parents up from the airport.?


Mitchell H. said...

It's funny, I was just thinking about doing a phrasal verbs post earlier in the week. But it's cool, I'm not mad. What, this? No, no, no, this isn't a voodoo doll, Jen. Hahaha, what an imagination you've got... =) Anyway, the easiest way for me to tell whether a phrasal verb is separable or not is just to break it up with a noun phrase. "Brush out," for example:

-Brush out your hair
-Brush your hair out

So that one's clearly separable. It still makes sense when split, and the particle ("out") doesn't turn into a preposition. On the other hand you've got something like "go without":

-Go without your hair
-Go your hair without

The first one sounds fine, but when we try to insert a noun phrase between the verb and the particle, we sound...well, stupid. So it's inseparable. Unless you're Yoda, maybe.

ceruleanjen said...

Ahh, it always makes sense when you put Yoda in the picture, somehow. ;D Yoda and radioactive isotopes. And hey, I thought I just had pins and needles in my foot because I was sitting funny-kine on the chair. ;p