Over the years teaching English, I have asked many of my students what their favorite part of learning English is.

Do you know what students NEVER say is their favorite part of learning English?

You probably guessed it: Phrasal Verbs.

So why are they so hated?

The long and short of it is that they are difficult. And by difficult, I mean “please-kill-me-now” difficult. Each phrasal verb (for example: take off) can have multiple meanings. That little example can mean despegar, salir corriendo, and quitar una prenda de ropa. It is understandable that phrasal verbs cause confusion and frustration for students around the world.

BUT… they are also part of what makes English a rich language, and the fact is that English speakers use phrasal verbs in nearly every sentence they utter, especially in daily conversation. Spanish speakers tend to avoid phrasal verbs, using Latin-based equivalents instead, like “enter” instead of “go in,” or “remove” instead of “take off.”

I know you’re asking, “What’s the problem with that?”

No problem, really. An English speaker will still understand you. However, if you’re constantly using Latin equivalents for phrasal verbs you will almost always sound awkwardly formal, like an English Don Quixote. Who wants to sound like that? Even if you choose not to use them in your own speech, phrasal verbs are immensely important for understanding spoken English.

Of course, you need to find a way to learn vocabulary that works best for you. Rote memorization can work for some people, others prefer picture flashcards, or if you’re like me, and like many of my students, keeping a diary of new phrasal verbs as you encounter them in context might be more your style.

However you choose to study them, incorporating phrasal verbs into your English learning routine will give you a

Go on, study up!


Aimee Enders es nativa de EE.UU. y tiene un Máster Oficial en Lingüística Aplicada de la Universidad de Barcelona. Trabaja como profesora de inglés desde el 2007. Ha vivido en Sevilla, Buenos Aires, Ciudad Ho Chi Minh, y Barcelona. Puedes seguirla en Twitter or leer más en su blog TEFL Adventures.