Phrasal Verbs Follow Up

Follow up, there’s another one.  They are everywhere.  Why is it follow up, and not follow on, or follow in, out, down, over, beyond, etc?

They trip up native English speakers, too.  Sometimes, as somebody pointed out in the comments, they trip up people who have been taught to be too squeamish about ending sentences with a preposition.  Incidentally, that was one that drove my father nuts, particularly ‘Where’s it at?’  I am quite sure not one of the three of us ever, ever adds the ‘at’ to the “where is it?” question, but probably we have quit wincing when somebody else does, now that we are almost all over fifty.

But not all English speakers use the same phrasal verbs to mean the same thing.

I spent several embarrassing moments in confused ignorance recently when a Filipina friend was taking me to a restaurant and she stopped the car in front of a parking space near the entrance and said I should ‘go down’ here and she would go ahead and park the car. I could not see any stairs, so I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or where I should go to meet her. After a confused couple of minutes where I asked about stairs and she looked baffled and repeated her suggestion that I go down here, I finally stepped out and while I was looking for stairs, she parked the car right in front of me. The issue was the space was so narrow, I couldn’t have opened the car door once she’d parked, so she was telling me to exit the car before she parked it. Nothing to do with stairs. But Americans don’t go down from the car, we get out of the car. At least, this American exits the car that way.   Seems obvious now, but in the moment, my brain could not interpret ‘go down’ as ‘exit’ because I’d never used it that way, and if I’d heard it used that way, I don’t remember it.

Many of the signs directing customers to get in line say ‘Fall in line here.’ And I picture customers keeling over because that’s not quite American usage. It’s close, but just not quite.  I expect it’s British.  But we do say ‘fall in’ when we are talking about a military line, a moving line of marching soldiers could be told to ‘fall in’ and they’d fold themselves into the line in order.  Isn’t it odd?  I wonder where and why we came to use language in just this way?

And why does it seem so obvious when it really isn’t obvious at all?  I understand usage accustoms us, but what about new phrasings?  Did the first person to say her mom liked bragging on her kids confuse everybody around her, or did people grasp the meaning intuitively because as native speakers, they could make that little jump in connection?    Did the first people to hear “Peace out, man” stand around scratching their heads in confusion, or did they get the gist, as dopey as it is?

Also, in an only tangentially connected bit of information, not only can you and should you verb your nouns in Visaya, you can verb your ‘what’ question.  Adding a verb prefix to ‘what’ is basically ‘What’s up?’ I find this language struggle every week as I simultaneously strive to learn one language while trying to help native speakers of an entirely different language maneuver their way through the complexities of English both exhilarating and really painful for my brain.

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Nature Study Picture: Muskrat

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Phrasal Verbs

This was a new one to me, and I wondered why I’d never heard it before.  The smartest woman I know explained to me that this is a term helpful for those learning English as a second language. It’s not really what native speakers call these words.  On the off chance that maybe I am not the only person in America who never heard of phrasal verbs and yet is interested in what they are now that I have heard of them, here you go.

 

Phrasal verbs are typical two word phrases, sometimes 3, consisting of a verb and a preposition. When combined, they usually take on a different meaning than one would assume from the individual definitions of the verb and preposition. For native speakers, we say the preposition is an adverb modifying the verb.  Some examples:

hang up, turn on, turn out, put on, go over, do over, sweep up, bring up, watch out, look out, make up, make out, come down, take down, sleep in, and on, and on, and on.  Once I heard a few I coudln’t not notice them any more.  We use these *all* the time, we native speakers.  No wonder it’s confusing.

Some of them do have some logic behind them.  Turn up the radio/television makes some sense when you remember the volume used to be a button you literally turned to the right to make things louder.  Turn on the light can be figured out, although if you think about it and compare it to the way we say other things it can be a bit odd.

But it takes more than intuition and context to figure out for sure what is meant by a couple making out, and why you put make-up on your face, but also make up after a fight, or why we say a child just made up a story,  or why we talk about bringing up a child but also bringing up a topic of conversation, or why you turn on a light but can also turn on a person sexually or angrily. Put down the candy, put down a person, put down a sick puppy all mean three totally different things.    Mainly, you just have to listen and ask, and perk up your ears (there was another one), whenever you hear a verb and preposition together, which means you have to know those verbs and prepositions.

Sorry for running on.  If it’s interesting to you, you can check out more information here:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/phrasals.htm

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/english-phrasal-verbs/

https://www.englishpage.com/prepositions/phrasaldictionary.html

http://www.classzone.com/books/lnetwork_gr07/index.cfm

I have to take off now.  It’s time to do up the Cherub’s hair, and put on some clothes, and pack up lunches for work, because today I don’t have enough cash to do carry out lunches. I will catch up with y’all later.

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Timely Reminder

Bill Clinton rode on the Lolita Express over two dozen times. Sometimes he ditched his security to do it.  The owner of the Lolita Express, Jeffrey Epstein, is a convicted pedophile.  Epstein has been protected by the Democrat establishment for decades.  The media remains distinctly lacking in any curiosity whatsoever about the underaged girls he procured and abused and the politicians and movers and shakers who met those child sex-slaves, who flew on his plane to his island and what they did there.  It’s a far more disturbing story, and also more current, than Franken or Moore.  I am not suggesting they should ignore the latter.  But when they don’t care at all about doing any sort of investigative journalism into the Epstein story, I remain completely cynical about their journalistic ‘ethics,’ and their reasons for choosing the stories they choose.

Want something even more timely? Senator Menendez and underage prostitutes.  But he’s a democrat who, unlike Franken, would not be replaced by a Democrat if he steps down.

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CNN and Fake News

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