Phrasal verbs are verbs that use two or more words, such us ‘pick up’, ‘ask out’, and throw up’.

Note: phrasal verbs are different from prepositional verbs (this is important because the rules of phrasal verbs and the rules of prepositional verbs are not the same).

– in a phrasal verb, the meaning of the verb changes

e.g. throw up = to be sick

– in a prepositional verb, the meaning of the verb does not change, and the second word is a direction

e.g. throw up = to throw into the air

Which Phrasal Verbs Can Be Split?

1. Phrasal verbs that need an object (transitive verbs) can be split.
2. Phrasal verbs that don’t need an object (intransitive verbs) are not split.

Examples of 1
put away (the toys)
pick up (the kids)

Examples of 2

throw up
give up

Examples of Splitting Phrasal Verbs

She put away the toys. (OK)
She put the toys away. (OK)

However, if the noun becomes an object pronoun (me, he, she, us, them, you, it), the phrasal verb must be split.

She put them away. (OK)
She put away them. (not OK)

Exercises

1. Split these phrasal verbs:
(i) I took out the box.
(ii) He washed up the blood.
(iii) She divided up the money.

2. Remembering that pronouns mean the phrasal verb must be split, all these sentences are wrong. Make these sentences correct:
(i) She beat up him
(ii)They took away it.
(iii) The car ran over it.

3. Remembering that pronouns must split phrasal verbs, which are OK, and which need to split the verbs:
(i) He tidied up the room.
He tidied up it.
(ii) They burnt down it.
They burnt down the house.
(iii) She put out the garbage.
She put out it.