Phrasal Prepositional Verb

understanding Phrasal Prepositional Verbs

PHRASAL PREPOSITIONAL VERBS consist of a verb followed by two elements: a particle and a preposition.

In a Phrasal Prepositional Verb, the verb and the first element, a particle, constitute a phrasal verb, which is followed by a preposition. Typical examples of phrasal prepositional verbs include:

  • do away with (something),
  • look up to (someone),
  • put up with (something),
  • run up against (something), and
  • look forward to (something).

Like the examples above show, all phrasal prepositional verbs are followed by objects; hence, they are transitive in nature. For clarity see also examples in 1).

  • 1a)  Liam really looks up to his father.
  • 1b)  He’ll have to come up with a better excuse.

Most phrasal prepositional verbs have one-word equivalents. For example, do away with is equivalent to “exterminate” or “abolish”. See the table below.

Phrasal Prepositional VerbWord Equivalent (Meaning)
do away withto exterminate or abolish
look up toto admire
put up withto endure or tolerate
run up againstto encounter
look forward to to anticipate
come up withto produce
come down withto develop (an illness)
look down onto despise

The final element of these verbs cannot be omitted before the object without changing the intended meaning, as the sentences in 2), 3), and 4) illustrate.

  • 2a)  I guess I will have to put up with his bad behavior.
  • 2b)  I guess I will have to put up his bad behavior.
  • 3a)  Liam really looks up to his father. He almost worships him.
  • 3b)  Kim really looks up his father. He almost worships him.
  • 4a)  You will have to come up with a better excuse than that.
  • 4b)  You will have to come up a better excuse than that.

Some verbs in this category may take objects other than nouns and pronouns. For example, the phrasal prepositional verbs in 5a) and 6a) are followed by gerund complements, which is true for other types of multiword verbs.

  • 5a)  We are looking forward to seeing you at the party.
  • 5b)  We are looking forward to the party.
  • 6a)  He got away with telling a terrible lie.
  • 6b)  He got away with murder.