English phrasal verbs

over cannot be a preposition, as it is not followed by a noun phrase.

Many verbs can be complemented by a prepositional phrase that functions adverbially:

This construction is sometimes also taught as a phrasal verb, but only when the combination of verb and preposition is not intuitive to the learner:

– The object of the preposition cannot precede the preposition in the phrasal verb.

Thus, the distinctions between particles and prepositions are context dependent because instances of those categories, as exemplified above, may function either as a particle or as a preposition.

Note that prepositions and adverbs can have a literal meaning that may be spatial or orientational. Many English verbs interact with a preposition or an adverb to yield a meaning that can be readily understood from the constituent elements.

Furthermore, the same words that occur as a genuine phrasal verb can also appear in other contexts, as in:

A complex aspect of phrasal verbs concerns the syntax of particle verbs that are transitive (as discussed and illustrated above). These allow some variability, depending on the relative weight of the constituents involved. Shifting often occurs when the object is very light, e.g.

- A three-syllable object can appear in either position for many speakers.– Shifting is unlikely unless it is sufficiently motivated by the weight of the constituents involved.

The trees illustrate when shifting can occur. English sentence structures that grow down and to the right are easier to process. There is a consistent tendency to place heavier constituents to the right, as is evident in the a-trees. Shifting is possible when the resulting structure does not contradict this tendency, as is evident in the b-trees. Note again that the particle verb constructions (in orange) qualify as catenae in both the a- and b-trees. Shifting does not alter this fact.

Prepositional verbs are very common in many languages, though they would not necessarily be analyzed as a distinct verb type: they are simply verbs followed by prepositional phrases.

If the particle antecedes the verb, then the compounded noun is never written with a hyphen, if the particle succeeds the verb, then there may be a hyphen between the two parts of the compounded noun.