Phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs may look similar, but they do not act the same.

What is a phrasal verb?

Phrasal verbs are verbs that contain two or more words (the first word is a verb, and the second is an adverb, changing the verb)

– examples

put away
(‘away’ changes the verb; ‘put away’ is different from ‘put’, ‘put down’, ‘put up’, and ‘put aside’)

beat up
(‘up’ changes the verb; ‘beat up’ is different from ‘beat’, or ‘beat down’)

take apart
(‘apart’ changes the verb; ‘take apart’ is different from ‘take’, ‘take away’, ‘take in’, ‘take out’, ‘take up’, ‘take down’, and ‘take aside’)

Most phrasal verbs can be split around the noun.

What are prepositional verbs?

Prepositional verbs (verb + preposition) are different: the first word is a verb, but the second word is a preposition that relates to an object.

examples:

believe in (something)
(‘in’ does not change the meaning of ‘believe’; instead it relates to the object (what is being believed))

sympathise with
(‘with’ does not change the word ‘sympathise’; it relates to what is being sympathised for)

apologise for
(‘for’ does not change the verb ‘apologise’; instead it relates to what is being apologised for)

take care of
(‘of’ does not change the verb ‘take care’; instead it relates to an object (what is being cared for)

Unlike most phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs cannot be split.

Exercises

Which of these are phrasal verbs, and which are prepositional verbs (remember: in phrasal verbs the second word changes the meaning of the verb, and the two words can be split by a pronoun)
(i) give up
(ii) push against
(iii) turn off
(iv) write down
(v) read along