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Multi-word verbs: in-service training sessions


There are a number of different ways to analyse multi-word verbs and your preferred option may not be how this site chooses to do it.
If that is the case, some of what follows will not parallel your presentation of the area so should be handled with some care.
All sensible analyses will, however, distinguish between prepositional and adverbial particles and between adverbs used in the normal way and those which combine with verbs to create a new meaning.  No sensible definition of a multi-word verb will include a verb followed by a prepositional phrase.

Those ideas form the basis of worksheet #1.


The key ideas

These are the areas on which these worksheets focus.  A session of between 2 and 3 hours should be enough to cover the essentials and give people the tools they need to focus on certain aspects of the area for an assignment.
It will not be enough in itself, of course.

  • Multi-word verbs vs. prepositional phrases
  • Adverbs and adverb particles
  • Prepositional verbs
  • Phrasal verbs
    • transitivity
    • separability
  • Phrasal-prepositional verbs


Identifying multi-word verbs

The first two tasks on the worksheet are awareness-raising exercises and focus on the distinction between something worth analysing (a multi-word verb) and something which is perfectly explicable by the normal rules of prepositional-phrase use or adverbs (and adverbials).  This should be a reminder but it is not an area which is covered on all initial training courses.
It is also, unfortunately, an area of deep and abiding confusion on many websites as the guide to the area makes clear.


Task 1 of the worksheet asks people to identify whether we have a case of a verb followed by a prepositional-phrase adverbial or a true case of a multi-word verb.
Task 2 is designed to alert people to the fact that verbs can retain their basic meaning but be modified by an adverbial expression while others may act in combination with an adverb to alter the meaning of the verb altogether.  In the first case, we have a verb + adverbial combination, in the second we have a true multi-word, phrasal verb.


Analysing multi-word verbs

The view taken on this site is that we have three forms of multi-word verbs:

  1. Prepositional verbs
    1. transitive (arguably)
    2. intransitive
  2. Phrasal verbs
    1. transitive
    2. intransitive
    3. separable
    4. inseparable
  3. Phrasal-prepositional verbs

If you prefer, the first category may be better described as verbs with dependent prepositions.  We can also state that all such verbs are, in fact, intransitive because none takes a direct object unless it is linked with a preposition.

Worksheet #2 tasks are tests more than presentations and assume that you have already done the presentation (and / or got the trainees to do their own research on this site and / or elsewhere).



Related areas

The worksheets here do not cover issues such as the use of adverbials with multi-word verbs or the use of the passive.  For those, refer to the main guide.

Related guides
multi-word verbs this is the in-service guide which underlies both the worksheets and all the tasks
multi-word verbs essentials this is a much simpler guide in the initial training area
prepositional phrases this is an allied area
verbs for the in-service index to the whole area
A-Z index where you can find guides to or containing specific concepts and terms