What is a phrasal verb?
A phrasal verb is a verb followed by a preposition or an adverb; the combination creates a meaning different from the original verb alone.
- Today’s verb: Burn
- Today’s phrasal verbs: Burn up, Burn down, Burn away, Burn Off, Burn Out, etc.
Phrasal Verbs Made Easy PDF Capsule 1: Burn up… or burn down???
The following conversation between ‘Kevin’ and ‘Roger’ will explain the meaning of all these phrasal verbs.
Kevin: Do you know, yesterday Tom’s house burnt up. Fortunately, all are safe.
Roger: Thank they’re safe! But you should focus more on phrasal verbs especially for the upcoming aptitude test. Houses don’t burn up, they burn down.
Kevin: These phrasal verbs get on my nerves sometimes. What’s the difference between ‘burn up’ and ‘burn down’?
Roger: When something burns up, it uses energy to produce flames. When something burns down, it is destroyed by fire. That’s why we use ‘burn up’ to mean ‘to get angry’. We just use our energy to produce flames, when we become angry.
Kevin: But I have read in a newspaper that ‘a satellite is burnt up’. Why is it so?
Roger: Maybe to avoid confusion.
Kevin: To avoid confusion?! Hmm… The satellite burnt up… The building burnt down…
Ha! The satellite burnt down up in the sky; the house burnt down to the ground! So, they didn’t want to use ‘down’, ‘up’ and ‘in the sky’. Just ‘burn up’.
Roger: Maybe. Phrasal verbs in English can’t always be explained with a single rule, but there is always some logic behind them.
Kevin: Hmm! The satellite burnt up in the sky; the house burnt down to the ground. It won’t be confusing anymore!
Roger: These are some other phrasal verbs of burn: burn away, burn off, burn out.
Kevin: Burn out means to be exhausted or tired.
Roger: Yes! It also means to wear out. ‘The light bulb or the fan burnt out’. Burn away means to remove something, using heat or fire. Like, ‘they burnt away weeds’. But, burn off means to disappear because of warmth or heat. ‘Dew burns off after sunrise’. Here, no one is intentionally removing the dew. As heat increased, it just vanished.
Kevin: Okay! Burn away vs. burn off; burn up vs. burn down; burn out! Got them all, thanks, Roger!!!