Multi-word, phrasal, and prepositional verbs. Do you know the difference? Do your students? Does it matter?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about phrasal verbs lately (or multi-word verbs if you wish).  And regardless of who is writing, things invariably seem to get into a muddle.  As I read my way through Parrot, Aitken, Murphey and Swan, it seemed to me that the rules everyone wanted to hold onto, kept slipping away on closer inspection.  Perhaps the best thing I’ve read on the difficult nature of phrasal verbs is Scott Thornbury’s P is for Phrasal Verb.  Luckily, I didn’t decide to write a paper on the nature of phrasal verbs.  Instead, I’ve been thinking about ways I can help my students simply identify phrasal verbs when they run into them during our English classes.  So with that goal in mind I starting writing what I hoped would be a short paper on how to identify hard to recognize multi-word verbs.  Unfortunately, my desire to keep the paper short had very little to do with the inherently large and messy nature of phrasal verbs.  So the first draft of the paper is now complete.  But, messy.  Still, if you have students with serious issues when it comes to identifying multi-word verbs, you might want to give the paper a read.  It’s a little too long for a blog post, so I have posted it to my Scribd account:


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