Module 7, Prepositions, Lesson 12:

Idiomatic Verbs


You learned about phrasal verbs in Verbs Module Lesson 12.

Phrasal verbs, also called idiomatic verbs or two-word verbs, are made up of a verb and one or more prepositions. The preposition in an phrasal verb is called a particle. This is because the preposition is not being used to show a relationship such as time, place, or direction; it is just there because that is the way we speak.

If you wake up in the morning, is there anything up about how you wake? If you tell someone to shut up (which we know is rude), what up are they supposed to shut?


Please fill out these forms so I can find out more about you.
If you fall behind in your homework, your parents will hear from your teacher.
If you blow up at your friends, it makes it harder to get along with them.

It is important to be able to tell the difference in the ways prepositions are used.

  • Verb with an adverb:
    We looked up at the sky to see the meteor shower.
    As we were racing, James fell behind.
  • Verb with a prepositional phrase:
    We looked up the road to see if the car was coming.
    James fell behind the couch.
  • Idiomatic verb:
    We looked up the definition of that word in the dictionary.
    James fell behind in his schoolwork.
If you ask what after the word and get an answer, it's a preposition.

Practice What You've Learned

Exercises are reserved for account holders.
Please log in.

 Need an account?
Sign up to get started.

Identify each set of underlined words as either an idiomatic verb or a verb with a prepositional phrase following it.
Sandra seems upset; we need to cheer her up.
idiomatic / preposition
After I got off that roller coaster, I was very sick.
idiomatic / preposition
I am not sure I will ever live down that silly comment.
idiomatic / preposition
You shouldn't let your little sister draw on the walls.
idiomatic / preposition
If you sweat off all your sunscreen, you should put on some more.
idiomatic / preposition
I hope this rain will let up before our trip tomorrow.
idiomatic / preposition
All that snow must be swept off the front stairs.
idiomatic / preposition
If no one claims these smelly lunch boxes, they will be thrown away.
idiomatic / preposition
Your shoes must be kept on your feet during class.
idiomatic / preposition
Make sure you write out your full name on these papers.
idiomatic / preposition