How to understand English phrasal verbs | DailyStep English

How to understand English phrasal verbs

 

 

Jane Lawson English teacher Hello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English!

Learn the key to understanding English phrasal verbs, and also the different meanings of the phrasal verb GET THROUGH, with a quiz at the end of page. There are also some free audio descriptions of all the topics in this week's DailyStep Audio Lessons. If you are new to DailyStep English, please register for a free trial of 5 UK/USA audio lessons and to be on my mailing list.

How to understand phrasal verbs     
(by Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com)

Phrasal verbs are basically mental images. You need to understand the image in a phrasal verb in order to understand why the same phrasal verb can have so many meanings. These meanings might seem unrelated at first, but when you see the image, it’s easy to understand the various meanings of a phrasal verb. 

Take a look at the picture. As you can see, I’m an English teacher, not an artist! But actually the simplicity of the picture shows just how simple the mental image is. Today we are looking at the  phrasal verb GET THROUGH, but this same image will work for almost any phrasal verb with THROUGH as the particle, such as GO THROUGH, BE THROUGH, PUT THROUGH and so on. 

how to understand English phrasal verbs

The big blue IT here is like a tunnel. The person needs to GET THROUGH the tunnel in order to achieve what he wants. Note that GET here means TRAVEL, or GO (as Get has many meanings!) The meaning of the phrasal verb depends on what the tunnel, the big blue IT, represents. 

Look at 5 common meanings of GET THROUGH:

1. She will have to work very hard to get through her exams. ( = succeed in her exams”). Here, the IT is her exams.

2. I have a lot of work to get through this weekend. (=  I have a lot of work to finish) Here, the IT is my work.

3. He drinks too much coffee – sometimes he gets through 15 cups per day! (= sometimes he consumes 15 cups per day) Here, the IT is 15 cups of coffee.

4. The refugees will need our help to get through the winter. ( = to survive the winter) Here, the IT is the winter, but it could be any difficult experience.

5. I tried to call him on his mobile phone but I couldn’t get through. ( = I couldn’t reach him) Here, the IT is the telephone system.

So, in each example we use the same phrasal verb with a completely different meaning – BUT ALWAYS WITH THE SAME MENTAL IMAGE. 

Now, go to the bottom of this blog page for a short QUIZ to help you learn these meanings, and also a few more meanings. Then try to write your own sentences using GET THROUGH. 

 

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Download this lesson

If you are a subscriber to my DailyStep Audio Lessons, you can download this audio file below. 

Quiz. Look at these sentences with GET THROUGH. Write the sentences again without using the phrasal verb. 

Example:  How does he manage to get through so many sandwiches?

Answer: How does he manage to consume so many sandwiches.


1. If I can get through the first 5 minutes of my speech, I think I will be fine for the rest of it.

2. How did he manage to get through his driving test? His driving is terrible!

3. If that law gets through Parliament it will make this society fairer.

4. It was impossible to get through to the hospital after the disaster, as all the lines were engaged.

5. I can’t seem to get through to him how important it is to lock the front door – he is always leaving it open.

6 We have so much to get through in this meeting that we had better start now, even though we are still waiting for some people to arrive.


CLICK HERE for the answers to the quiz!