March 2003 — Volume 6, Number 4
Really Learn 100 Phrasal Verbs (2002)
Oxford: Oxford UP.
Phrasal verbs are often the most difficult things to learn and understand in English. They are composite words, a verb and a particle, that together make up a new meaning, different from the meaning of each of the separate parts. Really Learn 100 Phrasal Verbs undertakes the challenge to teach these phrasal verbs.
This is a slim book whose size allows for convenient carrying. The phrasal verbs are arranged in alphabetical order according to particles, starting, for instance, with verbs that are used with the particles across, after, away to those that are used with over, round, and up.
Because the book is designed for self-study, a “How To…Really Learn Phrasal Verbs” section is included to help students find their way around the book. It is laid out over two pages. It does an excellent job of describing the book to non-native speakers. At the beginning of the “How To” the purpose of the book is stated. The book acknowledges that there are many phrasal verbs with different meanings, but assures the student that it will only provide those that are most important for everyday English.
The “How To” then sets up the book explaining that each phrasal verb is arranged alphabetically according to the particle, but that the pages can be done in any order because the book covers each phrasal verb on one page. Indeed, this is true. To “come across somebody or something” (p. 1), for instance, is independent from “go on” (p. 41). One does not need to learn one to understand the other. The section goes on to describe the layout of each page and explains how every page has four sections.
The phrasal verb appears in the heading on the top of each page. The first section is identified as the “study.” In this box, the phrasal verb is used in sentences. This allows the student to understand the appropriate contexts. It also shows how these phrasal verbs fit into the sentence, especially when they are followed by an object. For instance, in the explanation for the phrasal verb “cut somebody off” (p. 22) we find the following examples: 1) “The day I had to work on the switchboard I kept cutting people off!” 2)”Kenneth slammed the phone down and cut her off.” 3)”Operator, I’ve just been cut off. Can you reconnect me?”
The next section is called “Check.” Here the reader verifies the meaning of the phrasal verb. These exercises vary. In some instances, the student is required to fill in the blanks of the definition by using the words provided; in another instance, the student must circle the best meaning for the selected phrasal verb; on another occasion, the student may be asked to provide an antonym, or to chose which of the definitions are wrong. Here the student also verifies grammar. The book presents the reader with four or five similar sentences. The student must decide which of the sentences are grammatically correct. The student must identify the sentences in which the phrasal verb is correctly situated (more than one possibility is often available). This is illustrated with the phrasal verb “cut down on” (p. 9): a) I cut down; b) I cut down unhealthy food; c) I cut down on unhealthy food. This exercise shows which patterns are possible, and serves as an extension to the sentence patterns found in the “study” section. [-1-]
The third section is entitled “Practice.” It includes various types of exercises that allow the reader to practice. The reader may be asked to correct the mistakes within the sentences, to match two halves of sentences in order to make one, or to complete the sentence with the correct form of the phrasal verb with one of the words provided.
Finally, “Build Your Vocabulary” provides further information about the phrasal verb. This information can include: 1) related words, which tells the reader of any nouns or adjectives that derive from the phrasal verb; 2) other meanings, these inform the reader of other useful meanings related to the phrasal verb; 3) synonyms; 4) opposites; and 5) similar verbs, which introduces the reader to other phrasal verbs that have the same meaning .
This is the standard format for every phrasal verb presented. Despite the repetitive format, the exercises vary and therefore, are not redundant. I believe that the book successfully incorporates all the above information on one page.
A review section is included covering some of the phrasal verbs included in the book. This section can be done once the student has finished studying all the phrasal verbs. A one-page answer key is also provided at the end of the review. An answer key to all the exercises appears at the end.
My intermediate-level students loved these exercises. They especially enjoyed the progress between the sections. The little cartoons were also a hit, as they are directly related to the meaning of the phrasal verb, further facilitating and enhancing a student’s comprehension. In no way does the British English interfere with the comprehension of the phrasal verbs. I am certain that high beginners will also enjoy and benefit from these exercises.
Université de Montréal
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