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English Language and Literature Samples

Style and Formation of Phrasal Verbs in English

The formation and proper use of phrasal verbs in English by no means a simple matter. As the name indicates, a phrasal verb is a phrase, a combination of a root verb and a particle. When we combine a verb of motion with a particle such as "up, we derive the verb "to go up," although the particle "up" often appears in phrasal verbs, it does not indicate motion. Usually, such particles limit the meaning of the root verb. "To clean up" is more limited than "to clean." Because in English Latin-based verbs are perceived as more formal than Anglo-Saxon verbs, a stylistic distinction comes into play. Thus, "to put off" is an informal verb, whereas the verb with the same meaning, "to postpone," ...