Prepositional Verbs


Prepositional verbs are a group of multi-word verbs made from a verb plus another word or words. Many people refer to all multi-word verbs as phrasal verbs. On these pages we make a distinction between three types of multi-word verbs: prepositional verbs, phrasal verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. On this page we look at prepositional verbs.

Prepositional verbs are made of:

verb + preposition

Because a preposition always has an object, all prepositional verbs have direct objects. Here are some examples of prepositional verbs:

prepositional verbsmeaningexamples

direct object
believe inhave faith in the existence ofI believe inGod.
look aftertake care ofHe is looking afterthe dog.
talk aboutdiscussDid you talk aboutme?
wait forawaitJohn is waiting forMary.

Prepositional verbs cannot be separated. That means that we cannot put the direct object between the two parts. For example, we must say "look after the baby". We cannot say "look the baby after":

prepositional verbs are inseparableCorrect!Who is looking after the baby?This is possible.
Not correct!Who is looking the baby after?This is not possible.


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