Verbs with prepositions and particles

Most English verbs can be followed by prepositions or adverb particles. Examples are: switch off, turn down, walk down, look at, stare at, sit down etc.

  • Please sit down.
  • Can you switch off the light?
  • Why are you staring at me?
  • I saw Alan as I was driving down the street.
  • She ran into the room crying.
  • John fell off the ladder and broke his arm.

Some verbs and prepositions/particles are always used together. Examples are: look at, stare at, throw at, listen to, switch off etc. These combinations are often called phrasal verbs. Note that the meaning of a phrasal verb is sometimes very different from the meanings of the two parts taken separately.

  • The meeting has been put off. (= The meeting has been postponed.) (The meaning of put off is not the same as the meanings of put and off.)

Verbs with prepositions and particles together

A few verbs can be used with both an adverb particle and a preposition. Examples are: put up with, get on with and look out for.

  • I can’t put up with her.

Word order

When prepositions are used with verbs, they usually go before objects.

  • He fell off the ladder. (NOT He fell the ladder off.)

Adverb particles can go before or after noun objects.

  • She switched off the heating. OR She switched the heating off.

Note that particles always go after pronoun objects.

  • She switched it off. (NOT She switched off it.)