Help with English phrasal verbs is a regular request for our podcasts ideas list. I completely understand why. New English language learners often run into this bizarre scenario where they understand some English words in isolation. Yet they suddenly see or hear these same words combined into a phrasal verb that means something completely different. How confusing and annoying, so today we explain some commonly used English to throw phrasal verbs.
Before I jump in to this English lesson, I just want to point out that we enjoy getting emails from our listeners. We like understanding and talking to people who are currently on the English language learning journey. And we love it when we can help. So If you have a problem with English and think lot’s of other listeners are having the same problem, tell us about it and we can put it on our English lesson ideas list.
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The best way to tackle English phrasal verbs is first to throw out (<- spot the phrasal verb!) the uncommon ones. There are literally hundreds of phrasal verbs, don’t waste your time learning all the rarely used ones. Next you just need to practice spotting phrasal verbs and note the context. Today’s lesson does this for you and provides easy English listening practice. Enjoy.
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So one of the areas that’s most confusing for English language learners – and you’ll have heard me say this before – the phrasal verb. So all of those verbs which are made up (there’s one!), are composed of more than one word. And they’re often the short, familiar, simple words – but in combination, they have a different meaning.
I’ve covered phrasal verbs before of course, but there are so many of them, it’s worth keep coming back to them and learning a few more. They tend to be used in spoken English much more than in written English. And there’s usually a more formal word that has the same meaning, if you’re writing.
Just as in the example before, where I said ‘made up’ or ‘made up of’ and then I explained it as ‘composed’ – there’s a more formal verb, ‘to compose’ which means the same thing and you’d use that one in written English probably.
Let’s have a go today at some phrasal verbs made from the verb ‘to throw’, THROW. This is what you do with a ball, you ‘throw a ball’.
So firstly ‘to throw at’. In a simple sense, you’d use ‘to throw at’ to mean precisely what it says. If you were throwing a snowball, you would throw it ‘at someone’, so that it hit them - they’re the target, if you like. Whereas if you were throwing an ordinary ball, a tennis ball or cricket ball perhaps, for someone to catch, you would say ‘I am throwing the ball to them’ – you’re not trying to hit them with it.
If you were throwing your ball at the wall, with the intention of catching it and throwing it again, we might also say that you were throwing the ball against the wall. So these expressions, ‘to throw at’, ‘to throw against’ and ‘to throw to’ all have similar meanings, but we’d use them in slightly different contexts. ‘I throw a snowball at you’, ‘I throw the tennis ball to you, so you can catch it’ and ‘I kicked the football against the wall, so that I could practice’.
If you use ‘to throw away’ or ‘to throw out’, this means that you’ve put the object, the thing into the rubbish, into the rubbish bin – you’ve ‘binned it’. ‘Oh those old jeans with hole in? I threw them out’. Or ‘She threw away all her college books when she finished her course’.
If there is a difference at all between these two ‘to throw out’ and ‘to throw away’, ‘to throw out’ tends to mean that you removed it, you got rid of it from your house. You can also use ‘to throw away’ here – but if you put your wrapper from your ice lolly into the rubbish bin, while you were walking in the park, you’d have to say ‘I threw the wrapper away’. You only ‘throw things out’, when you’re in a building, like your house – and the idea is that you’ve put the item outside, probably into the rubbish bin, because you no longer want it.
So that’s ‘to throw away’ and ‘to throw out’. If you want the formal verb here, it’s probably ‘to dispose of’ something, or less formal is ‘to bin something’. ‘Throw away’ is also sometimes used to mean that a thing was said carelessly, without thought. You might say ‘Oh, it was a throwaway comment’. So formal language there – you’d say it was ‘a casual, or a careless comment’.
You might criticise our modern world, by saying we have a ‘throwaway culture’. That means we throw lots of things away, we don’t value items or buy them to last a long time. The meaning is ‘there’s too much throwing away’ and ‘disposable’ is a useful adjective to describe things that are meant to be used and then thrown away quickly.
‘To throw out’ can also mean when a person is removed from a building too. If you were very drunk and you were in the pub and you were causing trouble, you might get ‘thrown out’. This means that you’d be forcibly removed – and put outside on the pavement and not allowed back into the pub.
So if a person is ‘thrown out of a restaurant’ or ‘thrown out of a hotel’ – it means they’ve been physically forced to leave. You would have to be behaving badly for this to happen. If you were thrown out of a plane’, that’s a different matter, of course! ‘To throw out’ can also mean an idea is being rejected, or even a case, a criminal proceeding, can be ‘thrown out of a court of law’.
A photograph of people in a restaurant who are getting noisy and if they are not careful will get thrown out.
This usually means there wasn’t enough evidence for it to be worth taking more of the court’s time. It was ‘thrown out of court’. So the more formal words which mean the same as ‘to throw out’ – for a person, you would ‘eject’ them, and for an idea you would ‘reject it’. ‘They threw out his idea for the advertising campaign’ might be an example.
So notice how, often the more formal word has a Latin root, so ‘eject’ or reject’, ‘dispose’ – they’re all Latin-based words, which is interesting. But that’s true always of formal language in English.
What about ‘to throw on’? Well, usually you’d hear this in the context of ‘I’ll just throw on some socks and shoes and we can go for a walk’. Or ‘he just threw on a T shirt and a pair of jeans’. So it’s a phrasal verb, which means ‘to get dressed’, but the suggestion is...is that it’s getting dressed very quickly, very casually. We’re not talking about lots of thought here. ‘I just throw on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and some sunglasses and off we go’.
What about ‘to throw together’? This is usually said in the context of making food, or making preparations for something. ‘I’ll just throw together a picnic’ or ‘I’ll just throw together some dinner for us to eat before we go out’. So rather like ‘throwing on’ a T shirt, ‘to throw together’ a meal, implies you’re doing it quickly, without much thought, it’s casual.
If you’ve ever seen Jamie Oliver – he’s a famous British chef – he cooks food, owns restaurants, makes recipes – and he’s made lots of TV programmes about cooking. Well, if you watch him in the kitchen, he ‘throws together food’. He’s quite casual in his attitude – and he quite literally throws his food together sometimes. Well, when someone says ‘I’ll throw together a packed lunch’ – it’s got a casual air.
Who knows what will end up in the packed lunch? It’s a bit unpredictable. If you were in work and you offered ‘to throw together a document pack’ for a product or for a meeting, your boss might not like the sound of that. ‘To throw together’ sounds as though you’ll do it quickly, without thinking too much.
So in this instance, if you tell your boss ‘I’ll prepare a document pack’, that sounds as though you’re taking the time and trouble over it that your boss will appreciate. So ‘to prepare’ is a more formal equivalent of ‘to throw together’, and implies that you’ll do it with more care.
What about ‘to throw in’? Well, again it’s a bit dependent upon context. If you’re camping with your friends and you’re putting together money to buy food – ‘a kitty’ you might call that, KITTY, you might say ‘Oh, I’ll throw in an extra £10 so we can get a bottle of wine’.
Or if you’re getting together food for a picnic ‘Oh, I’ll throw in some buns’. Or if you were setting up a small business with your two brothers, you might say ‘I’ll throw in a computer and a printer’. So I guess the more formal word here is ‘to contribute’ or ‘to make a contribution’ – another Latin-based word, of course. That’s the same as saying ‘I’ll throw something in’. It sort of implies it’s ‘extra’ too – more than what someone might expect.
Finally ‘to throw up’. You might know this one. Usually it means ‘to vomit’, VOMIT, ‘to be sick’. So ‘The baby threw up all the milk she’d taken from the bottle’. Or ‘Every time I smell fish, I want to throw up’! That’s not true, I like fish.
What you might also hear is when an event or a situation ‘throws something up’– an object or a result that was unexpected. So for example, ‘The storm threw up lots of seaweed from the bottom of the sea’. Or ‘The testing of the computer system threw up lots of errors that we weren’t expecting’.
So the idea is that these things were unknown, unexpected and they’ve been revealed by an event or a situation. They’ve been ‘thrown up’ – they[’ve] come to the surface, if you like.
So there we are. ‘To throw at’, ‘to throw against’ and ‘to throw to’. ‘To throw away’ and ‘to throw out’, ‘to throw in’, ‘to throw together’ and ‘to throw up’. Listen to this podcast a number of times, to help you remember the difference in meaning between these phrasal verbs.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.