Dear Language Nerd,
Why do we say “stand up”? Doesn’t “stand” cover everything?
Okay, here’s the plan: first, I’ll explain what a phrasal verb is, and then, right when you’re feeling secure, I will totally blindside you by saying that “stand up” isn’t really a phrasal verb after all. Ready? Let’s roll.
A phrasal verb is a verb made of at least two, sometimes three words. One of the words is the main verby part, a verb that can also be used alone. The other part is a preposition or particle that changes the meaning of the main verb.* Three-part verbs get a preposition and a particle, and boy are they smug about it.
How ‘bout some examples from one of our phrasaliest verbs, “take”:
I took his pencil.
They took apart the engine.
She takes after her grandma.
Somebody, take out the trash!
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