When speaking, native English speakers use phrasal verbs a lot and often do not even realize it. For any English-learner to improve their conversation skills, learning how to use phrasal verbs is important.

Today's post is about two different kinds of phrasal verbs:
*inseparable phrasal verbs (the main verb and preposition cannot be separated)
*separable phrasal verbs (the main verb and preposition can be separated by an object)

There is not much to say about inseparable phrasal verbs because they cannot be separated. You must use them as they are written. For example, 'come up', which means 'to suddenly arise', cannot be separated. 

A meeting came up, so I have to stay at work late.

Separable phrasal verbs are transitive, which means they take an object, the noun that 'receives the verb'. The object can separate the phrasal verb, but only for some verbs. 

For example, 'drop off', which means 'to deliver something or someone to a specific place', is a separable phrasal verb. In the example below, notice how the object, 'Mary' can be used after or in-between this phrasal verb:

We will drop Mary off at home after school.
We will drop off Mary at home after school.

Also notice that if a pronoun is used, the phrasal verb must be separated. It is also important to note that this happens most of the time when speaking English. Therefore, in the example above, if the pronoun 'her' is used instead of 'Mary', then the phrasal verb must be separated:

We will drop her off at home after school.

We will drop off her at home after school.

She turned him down!

Another example is the phrasal verb 'turn down' which means 'to refuse an offer'. This phrasal verb is separable, so if the pronoun is used, the phrasal verb must be separated:
Nathaniel asked Samantha to marry him, but she turned him down. 

Nathaniel asked Samantha to marry him, but she turned down him. 

There is no way to know which phrasal verbs are separable and which are inseparable...you have to learn and remember!

One way to do this is to get a simple ebook that lists the most common phrasal verbs. You do not need to know all phrasal verbs because there are too many for you to ever use them all.
Most native English speakers use the same phrasal verbs over and over again and these are the phrasal verbs with different meanings.
There are many phrasal verbs in English and improving your speaking skills often means learning and studying them. This can pose a challenge because there are so many of them! However, do not fret (this means, 'do not worry'), because there is hope! Most native English-speakers use the same phrasal verbs over and over again, so to improve your English speaking, you really only have to know a portion of the phrasal verbs that exist.

One of the most commonly used phrasal verbs is:

                     set up

This phrasal verb is common most likely due to the fact that it has many definitions and uses.

...to Set Up can mean:

*to establish as an organization, business, etc.

A group of students in my class set up a new study club. 

They set up a new business selling used vintage clothes.

setting up a new business


*to assemble; to physically connect / put together

They set up their new home theater system. 

setting up electronic equipment


to put into power

The rebel forces took control and set up a new president and a new government. 

setting up a new government


*to arrange for someone to be blamed for something (this is also called 'to frame someone')

The criminals set up the innocent man for the crime.  

setting someone up for a crime 
by putting evidence in their room 
(this is also called 'planting evidence')


Do you know any other uses for the phrasal verb 'set up'?

Post your example sentences as a reply to this blog post, and I will correct them for you. 

Study more phrasal verbs on my FREE English-learning website!

Visit Youtube and subscribe to my Youtube channel and study more phrasal verbs!

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)
Hello folks, 

Here is your idiom of the nite:

to Step Up

Actually, 'to step up' can have slightly different meanings, but they are all usually related to "increasing" something (usually a level). 

*If someone 'steps up', it means they are increasing their acceptance of more responsibility in their lives and expecting a greater performance from themselvesMost often, this happens during a crucial point in time. 

For example:

A father talking to his son:
Well, my son, you are 18 years old now. You are an adult and it's time for you to step up and take more responsibility in your life...you must get a job.

My boss made me the head of our group at work. It's time for me to step up and show everyone how skillful I am at leadership. 

*A common phrase is, "...step up to the podium...". A 'podium' is like a 'tall box' that people stand in front of during a speech or presentation (see below for a picture and example of a podium).

*'Step up' can also mean to increase your speed

You are working too slow; step it up!

*If people 'step something up', it means they increase its level

For example: 
The factory stepped up production during the months before Christmas.

There are more uses of 'step up'. If you want, you can reply to this post and write some example sentences, and I can check them for you...

If you want to 'step up' your English study, subscribe to my Youtube channel for free English tutoring videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6I25RQpdR4SuVEwcoyZ4tg

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)

                 a podium  ---->
"Please, step up to the podium and  receive your award!"

A person standing behind a PODIUM
Hi all,

There are so many idioms and expressions in English, and one that is often overlooked, yet used quite often in North America is I bet...”
(In the United Kingdom, its equivalent is "I reckon...")

'To bet' means to wager. 'To wager' means to put down money on a prediction that you made or on a probability of something happening. If your prediction comes true, you win money. If it doesn't come true, you lose the money you put up. Of course, this is used as an idiom, and idioms do not really mean what they say, so this is not how we usually use "I bet..."

As an idiom, when someone says, I bet...” it means they make a casual prediction about something.

We can use this for things we predict will or will not happen in the future:

I bet my favorite soccer team wins the game tonight.”

I bet she arrives late again! She is always late.”

We can use this for things we predict that are true in the present:

I bet mom has finished cooking dinner. Let's go to the kitchen.”

I bet you're tired. Let's go to bed.”

We can use this for things we predict did or didn't happen in the past:

I bet you didn't do your homework.”

I bet you forgot my name!”

We also use I bet! when we want to agree with someone in a sarcastic way. Notice the use of the exclamation mark to denote emotion. 

A: She only likes expensive gifts.
B: Yeah, I bet!

For this definition, we can use I bet! alone, or we can repeat the verb and pronoun in the original statement:

A: He wants more candy.
B: Yeah, I bet he does! (here, the stress is on 'does')

We also say, I bet!” when we do not believe someone and we want to disagree with them. It is said sarcastically in this situation.

A: I am a rich business owner. Let's go on a date.
B: Yeah, I bet! No way!

We also say, You bet!”

You bet!” is said as a cute, fun way of saying “Yes!” when someone asks for something.

A: Can I have another beer, please?
B: You bet!

We also say, You bet!” when someone understates a (perceived) fact (this means they state a fact casually) and we want them to say it more seriously. So, we confirm what they said very assertively.

For example,
A: You are very beautiful.
B: You bet I'm beautiful!

A: Ew! It's really hot outside!
B: You bet it's hot outside!

I bet you learned something new and I bet you will use "I bet..." in your next English conversation.

I bet you think I'm a smart teacher now.

I bet you enjoyed this blog post on 'I bet' so much that you will visit my Youtube channel and subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6I25RQpdR4SuVEwcoyZ4tg

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)
Hello everyone,

Some weeks ago, I did a video on Youtube about adding the preposition "up" to some simple verbs to form "phrasal verbs". 

Remember, this is only done to some verbs. 
For example: 
*eat ---> eat up                          
*clean ---> clean up
*listen ---> listen up
*pay ---> pay up
*wait ---> wait up
*drink ---> drink up

"Listen up" is a little different than just saying "listen". It does not mean "listen to something that is above you". That would be verb + preposition (up) and this has a physical meaning (direction).
"Listen up" is said in the imperative form and means you want someone to diligently and attentively listen. 
So, adding "up" to these simple verbs is like forming a "phrasal verb" because the combination of the verb and "up" forms a slightly different meaning than the verb alone or than the verb with the preposition "up". 

When native English-speakers add "up" to some simple verbs, the meaning (usually and almost) stays the same, but for some verbs, if "up" is not added, the sentence sounds a bit strange. 

When "up" is added to verbs, these verbs are usually said in the imperative form. So, "up" is added to:

*sound more authoritative - we add "up" to a simple verb when we want the person to comply or obey with our command

"Pay me my money!"
"Pay up!" - if someone owes you money, this sounds more authoritative

"Clean your room"
"Clean up your room!"
 - this (can) sound more authoritative and is something a parent might say

*make someone do it quickly and diligently 

"Eat your lunch."

"Eat up your lunch." - a parent or teacher (or someone else of authority) would say this to a young person to make them eat everything and eat it quickly

*make someone do something fully

"Drink everyone!" -this is rarely said
"Drink up, everyone!" - someone might say this at a party meaning they want everyone to drink all of their (alcoholic) drinks

*make someone do something a little bit

"Wait for me! You are walking too fast" - this is rarely said
"Wait up for me! You are walking too fast." -someone might say this if two people are walking together, and one slow person wants the other person to wait (a little)

Watch the Youtube video here (and subscribe to my Youtube Channel for weekly tutoring videos): 

If you have any questions or comments, respond to this post. 

Happy English!

Hello English-learners,

Remember the differences between:
*maybe (adverb)
*may be (modal + verb)

Much of the confusion between 'maybe' and 'may be' exists because both terms have a similar meaning, as they both explain'the level of 'possibility of something happening'.

'Maybe' is an adverb, which means 'perhaps' or 'possibly' and signifies that something will possibly happen.

'May be” is a verb. Where 'may' is the modal verb (auxiliary verb) and 'be' is either the main verb, or the main auxiliary verb of the present or present perfect continuous tenses, so it is followed by '____ing' and may take the form 'has/have been ____ing'.

With this in mind, we are able to distinguish between the two terms by their position in a sentence. 

Since 'maybe' is an adverb, it is usually placed before the subject but can be placed anywhere in the sentence. 

Maybe it will rain tomorrow.
It will rain tomorrow maybe.

Because 'maybe' is an adverb, and adverbs modify verbs, when we use 'maybe', there will always be a main verb in the sentence that it describes. So, one way to test if you should use 'maybe' or 'may be' is to identify a main verb.

Maybe it will rain tomorrow. 
I will rain tomorrow maybe.
-"will rain" is the main verb in both of these sentences

Since 'may be' is a verb, it is always placed after the subject:

She may be coming to the party this Friday. 
-"She" is the subject and "may be" is its verb

The movies may be starting at 9:00pm. Let's check the movie times.
-"The movies" is the subject and "may be starting" is its verb

It can be followed by ____ing or by an ADJECTIVE.

She may be angry at me. ("angry" is an adjective)

From the above examples, you might notice that 'maybe' and 'may be' can be used to represent the same idea or meaning. Therefore, we can substitute each terms for the other - but YOU MUST RE-ARRANGE PARTS OF THE SENTENCE:
She may be cooking dinner tonight. 
Maybe, she is cooking dinner tonight.
She is cooking dinner tonight maybe

They may be arriving at 7:00pm
They are arriving, maybe, at 7:00pm.

Maybe, they are arriving at 7:00pm.

She may be angry at me.
Maybe, she is angry at me. 

Two More tips...

Remember that:

  • you can substitute 'perhaps' to test for 'maybe'
Maybe, he feels cold.
Perhaps, he will pass the test. (this makes sense)

He may be cold.
He perhaps cold. -THIS IS INCORRECT - 'perhaps' cannot be substituted for 'may be'

  • If there is already a main verb, then you will be using the adverb 'maybe'

He _____ cold. (here, there is no verb)
He may be cold.

Maybe, he feels cold. (here, "feels" is the main verb, so we use the adverb 'maybe')

All the best...and if you have any questions, you are welcome to post them below!

Happy English!



Hello everyone, 

Recently, a subscriber to my Youtube Channel offered a discussion about the differences between could and might and could not and might not.

Both of these can describe possibility, however, may and might indicate a possibility that seems more likely to happen. If I had to roughly pinpoint it, I would say that: 
*May / might indicate more of a 'probability', something more likely to happen 60-70%
*Can / could indicate a possibility of about 50-60%

Of course, these are only estimates. 

For example:

I may be home early. (COMMON)
I might be home early. (VERY COMMON)
I could be home early. (not very common - but not rare either)

I can be home early. (this means 'ability' and not possibility - it can mean possibility, but it is not very commonly used in that way


Avoid using could not for possibilities.

Could not is sometimes used for possibilities, but it sounds awkward sometimes. 

I may not be home in time for dinner tonight. (COMMON)

I might not be home in time for dinner tonight.

I could not be home in time for dinner tonight. 
(NOT COMMON for possibility - this sounds formal and old - it also sounds like they are talking about a past ability that could not be done).

I can not be home in time for dinner tonight. 
(this is ability only)

Could not is used for (negative) past abilities, but rarely for (negative) possibilities in the present

Watch my Youtube video on Can and Could here: 

Watch my Youtube video on May and Might here: 

( ;)