Quite often foreign English speakers have tendency of creating complicated, unnatural English sentences when speaking. While it’s acceptable and even necessary (to develop English writing skills and learn to express yourself) when writing, in spoken English it can lead to situations when English learners struggle to explain themselves and hesitate when speaking. That’s when phrasal verbs come into action and facilitate spoken English fluency and therefore they’re really beneficial in order to increase foreign English speakers’ confidence!
But if you’re having and impression that phrasal verbs are used only as slang phrases and educated, intelligent people don’t use them – you’d better think twice! While there’s indeed a great number of very informal phrasal verbs like ‘to stick up for’ which means ‘to defend someone when they’re being criticized’ or ‘fire away!’ meaning ‘start speaking!’, it’s very handy being able to use them as well. If you’re on a night out with English speaking folks, you’ll be able to communicate with ease as informal chat mostly consists of such phrasal verbs.
Have I finally managed to persuade you to start leaning English phrasal verbs? Then let’s get down to the business!
Tip #1. While there are plenty of English textbooks dedicated to phrasal verbs, there’s no real need to get a hold of one. You don’t need to stuff your brain with hundreds of phrasal verbs at once because you’ll simply start mixing them up! Of course, it never hurts to have one for reference, but I’d suggest you go for freely available online resources.
While there are many English learning websites where you can find lists of phrasal verbs, you need to find one where the phrasal verbs come with example sentences. You need to see in what context a phrasal verb is used to get it right!
Here’s a great website with thousands of phrasal verbs with examples. You can use it when picking new phrasal verbs to learn and also to look up meanings of new phrasal verbs you come across when learning English.
Tip #2. When choosing which phrasal verbs to learn, go for the most commonly used first! Here’s a list of the essential English phrasal verbs, and even if you learn only half of them, your spoken English will definitely become more fluent!
Learning English is often not so much about quantity as quality. You see – any person has active and passive vocabularies. Your active English vocabulary contains all the English words you can actually use when speaking, but passive is all the English words you recognize but can’t really use when speaking. So while it’s definitely useful to recognize meanings of plenty of phrasal verbs, you can add only a limited number of phrasal verbs to your active vocabulary in a given period of time.
That’s why it’s crucial to pick out the most commonly used ones and start using them when speaking English!
Tip #3. Pick a few phrasal verbs – one to three every day – and write them in your pocket dictionary. Memorize them by repeating a good number of times until the phrasal verb settles in your mind.
IMPORTANT! Always learn phrasal verbs within context! Don’t memorize a single phrasal verb, instead repeat and memorize a phrase that contains it!
So instead of memorizing only ‘to pass around’ learn the whole phrase ‘to pass test papers around’. By memorizing phrasal verbs this way you’ll make sure you can use them in real English conversations later on. If, on the other hand, you memorize only the exact phrasal verbs, you might struggle using them when speaking. You’ll be forced to constantly kind of look them up from your inner dictionary and it will hamper your English fluency. But if you have them imprinted in your mind as part of natural English phraseology, you’ll be able to use them automatically.
Of course, it’s important that you pick relevant phrases. Don’t learn a phrasal verb phrase ‘to get away with stealing a million’. Are you really going to talk about stealing a million on a regular basis? Use your judgment and learn a phrase that is meaningful and would be used regularly, like ‘to get away with being late’. Just think of similar situations in your daily life and pick expressions that you would use!
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