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The Meaning of Prepositions and Adverbs in Phrasal Verbs

In some cases, the lexical meaning of a phrasal verb can be understood if the influence of the used preposition or adverb upon the meaning of the verb in other phrasal verbs is known.

About

In particle phrasal verbs(1), along with "round", "around" ↓:

  • around; everywhere:
    • I looked about the room, and noticed it was lightsome enough.
  • close, not far:
    • She is somewhere about.

(A)round

In particle phrasal verbs, along with "about" ↑ (see also difference between "around" и "round"):

  • around; everywhere:
    • I looked round the garden and just instantly fell in love with it.
  • close, not far:
    • she is somewhere round.
  • indicates aimlessness of action, idleness or wasted time doing something:
    • He just sits around all day doing nothing.

Back

In particle phrasal verbs:

  • return; towards the starting position :
    • I will be back soon.
    • I think back to what you said.
    • Your hair will grow back.
  • retention; restriction of forward movement; limitation of development:
    • The failure held the work back.
  • outside the base of the event; aside:
    • Don't stay back from meeting this time, we will wait for you.

Down

In prepositional phrasal verbs(2):

  • along with the preposition "up" ↓ (see Down vs. Up): along something; deep into something:
    • to walk down the street
    • to travel down the country

On

In particle phrasal verbs:

  • wearing, dressing (of clothes, jewelry):
    • She had on a sweater.
    • He threw on a hat and ran away.
    • Try it on.

Up

In particle phrasal verbs:

  • upward:
    • to look up at the stars
    • to get up (rise, lift, hoist)
  • increase, rise:
    • Our sales went up.
    • to turn up the heat (add heat)
  • completeness:
    • The time is up.
    • Drink up your coffee. (Finish your coffee.)
    • Why did you use up all the money?
  • bringing to the proper form (to settle, repair, wrap, tie, etc.) :
    • I need to dress up to impress my coworkers.
    • I will fix you up. (I will put you in order.)
    • Do up your coat. (Zip your coat.)
    • You must wrap up your books.
  • approaching:
    • Move up to me.

In prepositional phrasal verbs:

  • climbing something; towards the source, center, etc:
    • to go up the hill
    • to get up the tree
  • along with the preposition "down" ↑ (see "Up vs. Down"): along something; deep into something, somewhere:
    • to walk up the street
    • to move up the forest

Up and Down

In prepositional phrasal verbs:

  • back and forth, along something:
    • to walk up and down the street
See also
Notes
1), 2) About the difference between a prepositional and a particle phrasal verb, see "Phrasal Verbs".
Sources

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