The most effective strategy to learn phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are very important in the English language.
You do need to know lots of phrasal verbs if you want to reach a good English level.
But for English learners like us it’s difficult to learn phrasal verbs and use them naturally like native English people do…

The most effective strategy to learn phrasal verbs


Why Is So Difficult To Learn Phrasal Verbs

There are hundreds of phrasal verbs. To reach a good English level you have to learn at least the most common ones.
But the problem is that phrasal verbs are not an easy stuff to learn…

As an example, you know pretty well the meaning of the verb “to run”, but do you know what “to run out” means?

To run…I run five miles every morning.
To run out…I have to go to the food store because we ran out of sugar and milk.

As you can see, it’s not obvious to guess the meaning of “To run out” even if you know the meaning of the verb “to run”.

Summary: Phrasal verbs are so difficult because…

  1. There are lots of them.
  2. It’s often difficult to guess its meaning.
  3. One given phrasal verbs can have different meanings.
  4. Some phrasal verbs can be separated (I’ll call John back) while some other can’t (I run sugar out –> I run out of sugar).
  5. There are two words phrasal verbs (Give back), there are also three words phrasal verbs (Come up with).

Phrasal verbs are not easy to learn and moreover not easy to internalize and use in a natural way.


The Strategy I’m Using To Learn Phrasal Verbs

When I decided it was time to learn phrasal verbs, my first idea was to memorize from 3 to 5 news phrasal verbs every day.
After thinking twice about this strategy I thought it wasn’t the best one. It’s very difficult to memorize them because as you learn new ones you forget the older ones.
I thought of a way to internalize phrasal verbs by using them every day.

Let’s see the strategy in detail…

For 30 days in a row you are going to…

  1. Pick up a new phrasal verb every day.
  2. Check its meaning.
  3. Write a sentence using it
  4. Write a new sentence for all the phrasal verbs you learned the previous days.

That means that…

  • Day 1… You are going to write one sentence.
  • Day 2… You are going to write two sentence.
  • Day3… You are going to write three sentence.
  • …and so on… until…
  • Day 30… You are going to write thirty sentences!!!

After 30 days you can stop and then start again from day 1 with new phrasal verbs.


A Practical Example Of The Strategy

Day 1…

You Pick up a new phrasal verb To run out
You check its meaning To have none left or To exit rapidly.
You Write a sentence I ran out of gas and I had to leave my car in the side of the road and walk to the nearest gas station.

Day 2…

You pick up a new phrasal verb To get up
You check its meaning To rise in the morning from sleep or To stand.
You write a sentence I usually get up at 7 AM.
You write a new sentence for all the previous phrasal verbs you learnt When I saw the fire I ran out leaving behind all my belongings.

Day 3…

You pick up a new phrasal verb To keep away
You check its meaning To stay at a distance
You write a sentence Please keep the children away from the pool because they don’t know how to swim yet.
You write a new sentence for all the previous phrasal verbs you learnt  – Whenever I run out of milk I drink tea for breakfast. – Please get up from the sofa and help me because I’m not going to do all the household chores.

…And so on…until day 30.


How Are We Going To Learn Phrasal Verbs?

What am I going to do?

I will start using this strategy from today and for 30 days in a row.
If you want to follow my progression, I’m going to publish my daily work on phrasal verbs in a daily basis on:

What are you going to do?

You also have to start using this strategy right now.
You have to commit to work your phrasal verbs for 30 days in a row.
If after 30 days you feel that you are internalizing them, then start again from day 1 with new phrasal verbs.
Doing all this you are going to learn, and even more important, to use phrasal verbs in a natural way.


And Remember…

The most effective strategy to learn phrasal verbs_

– Are you going to use this strategy?
– Is this strategy helping you to learn phrasal verbs?
– How do you learn phrasal verbs?
.. All your comments are very welcome!!!

More Posts about Phrasal Verbs:
30 days in a row learning phrasal verbs
30 days in a row learning phrasal verbs – Second part
How to learn phrasal verbs easily
How to learn phrasal verbs easily – Part 2
How to learn phrasal verbs easily – Part 3
The most effective way to learn a phrasal verb
The most common phrasal verbs to learn in English
How you can learn phrasal verbs easily
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  • Daniel

    The most effective and coherent strategy I’ve ever seen in a long time of attempts to master phrasal verbs. Thanks George for the tip!

    1. George

      Hi Daniel.

      Thanks again for your comments!

      It’s good to know that my posts are helping you to improve your English.
      To master phrasal verbs is indeed a hard task for those of us who are not native English speakers. We have to find ways to use them on a regular basis. We don’t have the change to live in an English speaking country when you are more likely going to hear phrasal verbs every now and then in everyday situations.

      If you need any help I’m here for you.

      Take care my friend!

  • david

    Very interesting,

    Your ideas are very similar to the ones that I use to learn new songs.

    I mean, I memorize a new song and I sing the other ones once a day as minimum

    1. George

      Hi David,

      Indeed, songs are a very good material in order to improve your English.
      Apart from memorizing and singing them, try to analyze why they use some words and not others, wha tenses are used in the song. Try also to catch common English expresions and idioms. Try to look for phrasal verbs and their meaning in the song…

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Dario

    Hello George I’ve just read your post
    I think your method is a great way to kick off to learn phrasal verbs. I’m gonna try it tomorrow morning just get up.
    Thanks a lot

    1. George

      Hi Dario,

      It’s good to know that you’re going to use the method I speak about in this post.

      Thank you so much for you comment.

  • joseph v s

    Hi, George! A Great applause for the effective way of Learning phrasal verbs. My child and myself are going to follow this wonderful way and many thanks for the sale.

    1. George

      Hi Joseph,

      I’m verry happy to know that both you and your child are going to try the method I share with you in this post.

      I wish you the best to you and your English!!!

  • Julia

    Thanks for your advice! I’m going to try! I hope when I internalize my 30 phrasal verbs and start learning new ones, don’t forget the previous thirty! Let’s see!

    1. George

      Hi julia,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Remember that the whole thing is all about internalizing and not memorazing.
      If you forget some of the first phrasal verbs you learnt it doesn’t matter at all.
      As you keep reviewing them, you are going to fix them in your brain for life!


  • Learning to Learn Phrasal Verbs | The English Mind

    […] This way, you keep often contact with their correct usages. That’s what I learned by visiting The most effective strategy to learn phrasal verbs on […]

    1. George

      Thank you very much.
      It’s nice to know that my blog is helping you.
      I wish you the best.

  • Nguyenvanha

    That’s a great idea. I’ve tried to learn phrasal verbs many times, but I forgot them after a few week. I like the way in which you connected old and new words. I give your method a shot. See you at this article next month, and I’ll tell you how effective your method is. Thank you!

  • ehsan

    Thanks a lot for your beautiful and helpful article, its a great Idea to learn not only phrasal verbs but also new words.

    1. George

      Thank you Ehsan!
      I hope that my blog is going to keep you helping to improve your English.
      I wish you and your English the best!

  • User

    Hi George,

    Your advice seems very interesting. I’ve been studying English since 1 year and I’m Intermediate level. When it’s appropriate to begin study phrasal verbs? I don’t know a lot of words and I don’t know which of all things to study first- phrasal verbs or other English words or listening… My brain refuses to remember phrasal verbs. 🙂 It’s so hard!

    I’m sorry for my English! 🙁

    1. George


      Like you, many blog readers have been telling me about their problems with phrasal verbs. I’ll publish one more post about how to deal with them in the following weeks.

      As a short summary of my next post:
      My recommendation is that you don’t have to learn or study phrasal verbs specifically. When you read and listen English materials you’re going to come across new English words.

      You have to deal with a new phrasal verb like you deal when confronted with any other word following the next steps:
      1)Check its meaning
      2)Check its pronunciation/accentuation
      3)Try to use it as much as possible when writing or speaking. AVOID just memorizing it! AVOID endless list of phrasal verbs to memorize!

      Anyway, I’ll inform you when my new post about phrasal verbs is published.

      Keep working your English!!!
      Take care my friend!

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