Is this how you feel when you think about phrasal verbs? If so, you are not alone.
Many of my students tell me that phrasal verbs are the most difficult part of learning English for them. I understand their frustration. Here are some common examples of common phrasal verbs with their meanings and example sentences:
"You can count on me to finish the reports for tomorrow's meeting."
-to stop trying to do something after becoming frustrated
"I gave up trying to study right now because the kids were being too loud."
-to search for information in a book or records
"I need to look up this word in the dictionary because I don't know what it means."
-to think carefully about something
"It is important to reflect on your goals for the new year."
These are just a few examples, and, as you know, there are many, many more. 😄
How can I most effectively learn phrasal verbs and remember them?
Since I am a language learner by hobby, I have learned techniques both through reading and experience to help with memorization of vocabulary. I will now give you my suggestions for memorizing these phrasal verbs.
1. Use a flashcard system.
There are many choices of apps for your phone or computer that use digital flashcards and a system called SRS (spaced repetition system). You will review your cards every day, and the computer will decide which ones to show you based on your memory.
2. Group the phrasal verbs by preposition and choose a color (or mental image) for each preposition.
For example, you could choose green for the preposition up, red for down, yellow for off, and purple for on. For each card, you can color code the entire card or the word based on that preposition. As you study, make sure to associate that color or picture with the word in your mind.
3. On the other side of each card, write the meaning of the phrasal verb along with an example sentence.
This information should trigger your memory and show you the verb's usage from everyday life. You can use the format of the four phrasal verbs I listed above.
4. Review your cards EVERY DAY.
This is extremely important. Even if you have only five minutes on some days, make sure to review your cards. This makes sure that the words enter your long-term memory and that you don't forget them.
5. Look for examples in your reading and everyday conversation.
It will be very easy to find MANY examples. If you find a new phrasal verb that you don't know, simply make a new flashcard to add to you deck. Also try to use your new phrasal verbs in conversation with others.
I hope this page has been helpful for you in your studies. Phrasal verbs seem very difficult at first, but if you consistency follow these steps, you will use these verbs automatically in your speech and writing, and your native English-speaking friends will be very impressed!