A phrasal verb is defined by Denison as “the combination of a verb + an adverb particle and sometimes the particle maybe followed by a preposition”. They go on to say that “most of the particles look like prepositions but act as adverbs, and usually change the meaning of the verb they are connected”.
Very large and diverse groups of phrase verbs express do not only denote movement but also describe it. Verbs of this group often express not just the traffic and move from one place to another. Postpositions here indicate direction of movement (into, out, up, to).
For example: stand up — stand up; go out — go, leave; go into — enter; jump into — jump, leap;
Phrasal verbs can also indicate the beginning of movement.
For example: get over — to end, away from anything; jump down — jumping off, jump off;
A very large group consists of units, expressing the transition object from one state to another, or its movement.
- move in = to take possession of a new place to live; move towards — to go in the direction of (something or someone)
- to change one's opinion in the direction of; Move off = to start a journey; leave.
The third group belongs to group verb with the semantic component “lack of change of an object”.
For example: stay behind; to remain at a distance behind something or someone; keep behind; stay down = to remain at a lower level;
The following group of meanings is dominated by the verbal component “movement”.
For example: Walk away from = to leave (something or someone) on foot;
Walk about / around = to walk in a place without direction;
Frighten away / off = to make (somebody) leave through fear.
The first problem of phrasal verb in English is its defining. Some scholars, for example Waibel Birgit, regard as a phrasal verb, or verb-particle construction, any lexicalized combination of an intransitive or transitive verb with an adverbial particle, no matter whether this combination exhibits properties which would traditionally qualify it as idiomatic:
- Run-away [of a person], take off [of a plane], fly away [of a bird], fade out [of a color], go on [of a process], shrink up [of a fabric];
- pull off (the Scotch tape), switch on (the light), and hang up (a coat), and roll out (the carpet), find out (the truth), take on (a responsibility).
This sounds simple, but has always been a matter of debate: only few linguists argue for the existence of literal phrasal verbs and there are many scholars who take idiomaticity as the decisive criterion for separating phrasal verbs — as typical phraseologisms — from free syntactic combinations. As the modifier "lexicalized" in the above definition implies, we conceive of the category phrasal verb as a gradable one since lexicalization itself is procession. While idiomatic phrasal verbs, which are also to various degrees syntactically frozen, represent its most typical members, the phraseological category shades off into (free) syntax on its unidiomatic outer fringes: go out, fly around, hop up and down, come in, etc.
The very name for this type of verb is controversial. Among, e.g., “separable verb” (Francis 1958), “two-word verb”, and “verb-particle combinations” (Fraser 1974), the term “phrasal verb” “appears (…) to be the winning term”. ‘Phrasal verb’ will be the term used in this study since it also predominates in most current reference and student grammars and teaching materials.
The generally incoherent terminology poses a further problem. The terminological approach to multi-word verbs in this study basically follows Quirk et al.’s (1985) division of multi-word verbs into ‘phrasal verbs’, ‘prepositional verbs’, and ‘phrasal-prepositional verbs’ which in turn is essentially based on Mitchell (1958). All these multi-word verbs constitute a syntactic or lexical unit functioning like a single lexical verb; they consist of a verb and one or two additional elements, generally called particles.