Multi-word verbs

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Multi-word verbs

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Do you ever meet up with your friends at the shopping centre? In English meet up with is an example of a multi-word verb . They often have a similar meaning to other verbs that come from Latin or that we have borrowed from other languages. For example, meet up with is sometimes expressed with the French word rendezvous .

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Catherine Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me, Catherine…

Rob And me, Rob. Hello. In this show we’re going to find out about multi-word verbs.

That’s right: we’re looking into verb phrases that are made up of more than one word. And if you ‘d like an example, Rob and I have used three of them already.

Rob It’s incredible: we have! Catherine you said looking into and made up of .

Catherine Yep, and Rob you said find out about . And some people call this type of multi-word verb a phrasal verb.

Rob They do. And in this programme, we’ll look at lots of multi-word verbs…

Catherine … we’ll explain what they mean …

Rob There’ll be a quiz …

Catherine And we’ll leave you with a top tip for learning vocabulary.

Rob So, let’s get started by listening to Andre - a student from France who is studying in London.

Catherine Yep, and he’s talking about his weekend. And here are two questions for you while you listen. First, did Andre meet up with his friends?

Rob And second, Andre’s English is pretty good, but it sounds a bit unnatural. Why is that? Here’s Andre.

INSERT Andre I wanted to rendezvous with friends at the shopping centre, but I couldn ‘t find them. In the end, I abandoned the day. They said they couldn ‘t find me, but I think they just invented a story!

Catherine Thank you, Andre. And we asked you if Andre managed to meet his friends.

Rob And sadly he didn’t. He said he abandoned the day. Well done if you got that at home. But why did Andre’s English sound unnatural?

Catherine Well, we could understand him OK, but some of the words he used were a little bit too formal for everyday natural spoken English.

Rob Yes, thats right. When we’re speaking, some words, especially verbs that originally come from Latin - make us sound much too formal. Andre used quite a few of these - for example he said abandon the day.

Catherine Yeah - abandon the day. Well, to sound more natural, Andre could use a multi-word verb instead, and say he gave up on the day. Now, give up on something has a very similar meaning to abandon in Andre ‘s sentence - they both mean stop doing something, because you ‘re not succeeding . And Andre stopped hoping he would find his friends. Poor Andre.

Rob So, give up on is a phrasal verb. In English, these are made up of verbs and prepositions.

Catherine Yep, so, we’ve got the verb give and the prepositions up and on . And Andre needs to use more of these phrasal verbs when he ‘s speaking.

Rob So, are we saying that these Latinate verbs are wrong? Or not as good as the multi-word verbs? Can we forget about learning Latinate verbs then?

Catherine Well, that would be good, Rob. But, actually no, you do need to learn them and they’re not wrong: it’s just a question of context. You’ll see a lot more of the Latinate verbs in written English and in formal English, so yep, you do need to learn both types, and use the right one in the right situation. So, for example, Andre said he said he planned to rendezvous with friends. Now, if he changes the Latin rendezvous to meet up with , the meaning doesn’t really change, it just makes his speaking sound more natural.

Rob OK, well, let’s listen to one more example.

INSERT Andre I think they just invented a story!

Catherine This would sound better as I think they just made up a story . When you make something up , you say something that isn’t true.

Rob And now, let’s listen to Andre again, this time with the multi-word verbs…

INSERT Andre I wanted to meet up with friends at the shopping centre, but I couldn ‘t find them. In the end, I gave up on the day. They said they couldn ‘t find me, but I think they just made up a story!

Catherine Well done Andre. That’s a lot better.


6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Rob And now it’s quiz time! What goes in this gap? I’m going to my family next weekend. Is it a) meet on with b) meet up to or c) meet up with?

Catherine The verb is c) meet up with. Number 2. My brother isn’t very reliable. He’s always a) making on excuses b) making up excuses or c) inventing up excuses.

Rob He’s always… b) making up excuses. And number 3. What multi-word verb has a similar meaning to the verb abandon ?

Catherine And the answer is: give up on . Well done if you got those right at home.

That brings us almost to the end of today’s programme.

Rob But before we go, here’s today’s top tip for learning vocabulary: try to learn phrasal verbs and their Latin-based partners in pairs. That way, you’ll have the right verb for the right situation. So, we’re almost out of time, but Catherine very quickly can you remind us of some of these multi-word verbs we’ve heard today?

Catherine Most certainly. We had look into , made up of , find out about , meet up with , give up on and made up .

Rob Thanks. Very useful. There’s more about this at BBC learning English dot com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.


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