Transitive Phrasal Verbs (analysis activity for “Scott & Angie”)

Set-up and Background

• the following phrasal verbs are used in the story, “Scott and Angie”

speed up   •    slow down   •   break off   •   give up   •   soak up   •  

• all of these items display two characteristics of transitive phrasal verbs: (a) separability, and (b) idiomaticity

separability (the quality of being separable):

- when the direct object of a transitive phrasal verb is a noun phrase, it can be placed either after the particle or between the verb-word and the particle; when it is a pronoun, it must be placed between the verb-word and the particle. (Although a noun phrase object of a phrasal verbcan, and often does, appear between the verb-word and the particle, it is usually preferable to put it after. And this is particularly so in the case of a lengthy noun phrase.)

idiomaticity (the quality of being idiomatic):

- to say of a multi-word linguistic item that it is idiomatic (i.e. that it is an idiom) is to say that the meaning of the whole item cannot be predicted from the meaning of the words that make it up. For example, the phrase “a fat man” is not idiomatic because it can be understood by anyone who understands the meaning of the words it contains. By contrast the meaning of the phrase “a fat chance” cannot be understood (cannot be predicted) from a knowledge of the meaning of the words it contains and it is therefore idiomatic.

Activity 1: drill

prompt: Harry told Tom he had to speed up the project.
response: Harry told Tom he had to speed the project up.  Harry told Tom he had to speed it up.

prompt: Jill did breathing exercises to slow her heart rate down.
response: Jill did breathing exercises to slow down her heart rate.   Jill did breathing exercises to slow it down.

prompt: Harry broke off a piece of the chocolate bar and handed it to Jane.
response: Harry broke a piece of the chocolate bar off and handed it to Jane.   Harry broke it off and handed it to Jane.

prompt: Jane is trying to persuade Dick to give up his bad habits.
response: Jane is trying to persuade Dick to give his bad habits up.   Jane is trying to persuade Dick to give them up.

prompt: Harry used a paper towel to soak up the spilled wine.
response: Harry used a paper towel to soak the spilled wine up.   Harry used a paper towel to soak it up.

Activity 2: replacing multi-word verbs

instructions:
verbally or in writing suggest a version of each of the above “prompts” which does not use the phrasal verb. When possible use a one-word equivalent for the phrasal verb; otherwise, paraphrase. The meaning should be as close as possible to the original.

suggested “answers”:
- Harry told Tom he had to accelerate the project.
- Jill did breathing exercises to decelerate her heart rate.
- Harry divided the chocolate bar and handed a piece to Jane.
- Jane is trying to persuade Dick to break his bad habits.
- Harry used a paper towel to absorb the spilled wine.