Phrasal verbs are mainly used in spoken English and informal texts. (The more formal a conversation or text, the less phrasal verbs are found.)
Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and a particle (preposition, adverb). The particle can change the meaning of the verb completely. For example::
- look up – consult a reference book (look a word up in a dictionary)
- look for – seek (look for her ring)
- look forward – anticipate with pleasure (look forward to meeting someone)
There are no rules that might explain the meaning of phrasal verbs. All you can do is look them up in a good dictionary and study their meanings.
In some cases the particle is placed either after the verb or after the object.
- Write down the word
- Write the word down
If the object is a pronoun, however, the particle has to be placed after the pronoun (object).
- Write it down.
- Your photo album. Put it down
- Your jacket. Take it off