Word order in sentences with phrasal verbs
Learning English is not always an easy task. One aspect that can be confusing is the word order in sentences with phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and one or more auxiliary words. They are used to express different tenses and aspects of an action. Example:
- I have been studying English for two years
The main word order in sentences with phrasal verbs is the auxiliary verb, then the main verb and the other elements of the sentence. Example:
- I will have finished my homework by 9 PM. In this sentence, “will” is an auxiliary verb, “have finished” is a phrasal verb, and “my homework” and “by 9 PM” are other elements of the sentence.
However, there are exceptions when the word order can change. For example, when the interrogative participles “do” or “does” are used, then the main verb comes before the auxiliary verb. Example:
- Do you want to study English?
- Does she have time for a lesson?
Also, when there is an adverb in the sentence, it is usually placed before the phrasal verb. Example:
- He always goes to bed early
Object, preposition, adverb in a sentence with phrasal verbs
When a phrasal verb has an object, it can appear in the sentence either before or after the preposition or adverb that is part of the phrasal verb.
Or you can form such sentences:
An Object expressed by a phrase is used after a preposition (adverb), which is part of a phrasal verb:
- The gang has carried out a number of bank raids in the last few months
- Why don’t you try on that dress in the window?
A pronoun (for example, it, them) is mostly used before a preposition (adverb), which is part of a phrasal verb:
- Melanie felt hot in her coat, so she took it off. (Not She took off it.)
- There have been a number of raids. The police know who carried them out. (Not The police know who carried out them.)
Schemes with word order in sentences with phrasal verbs
Here are some useful patterns to help you understand word order in sentences with phrasal verbs:
Time phrasal verbs
- Subject + auxiliary verb + time phrase + main verb + object
- She has been studying English for three years.
- We will have finished the project by next week.
- They had been living in Canada before moving to the US.
Passive phrasal verbs
- Subject + auxiliary verb + passive verb (be) + past participle + by + object
- The book was written by Jane Austen.
- The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg.
- The cake was made by my mom.
Modal phrasal verbs
- Subject + modal verb + main verb + object
- He should have finished the report by now.
- They can’t come to the party tonight.
- She might take the day off tomorrow.
Phrasal verbs with an adjective (-ing form)
- Subject + auxiliary verb + verb + object + verb + ing + object
- He kept us waiting for an hour before apologizing.
- She suggested going to the beach instead of the park.
- They avoided talking about the problem in front of others.
Phrasal verbs with an adverb (-ly form)
- Subject + auxiliary verb + adverb + main verb + object
- She quickly finished her homework before going out.
- He carefully considered all the options before making a decision.
- They eagerly awaited the arrival of their guests.