Type 3 Phrasal Verbs: Transitive and separable with one particle
This third type of phrasal verbs are like type 2 phrasal verbs in that they have an object, they are transitive. They are also made of a verb and one particle (adverb or preposition), e.g. 'to talk over'. But they are different to type 2 phrasal verbs in that their two parts (verb and particle) can be separated by the object. For example:
I took the tie off.
I took off the tie.
Both of the above examples for the phrasal verb 'to take off' (which has the meaning of 'to remove clothes') are correct. This is a type 3 phrasal verb, where the object 'the tie' can either go between the verb and particle (in example 1) or it can go after the particle (in example 2). For type 3 phrasal verbs, if the object is a noun (Peter, car, fish etc...) then it can go either between the verb and particle or after the particle. It makes no difference.
But as nothing about phrasal verbs in English is simple, if the object is an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, them), then it always has to go between the verb and particle and it can never go after the particle. For example:
He took them off.
He took it off.
He took off them.
The first two examples of the type 3 phrasal verb 'to take off' are correct. The objects 'them' and 'it' are object pronouns and so have to go between the verb and particle. The third example is incorrect. The object is again an object pronoun 'them', but with type 3 phrasal verbs, if the object is an object pronoun it can never go after the particle.
Type 3 phrasal verbs are transitive, with a verb and only have one particle, and can be separable.
The difference between type 2 phrasal verbs: transitive and inseparable and type 3 phrasal verbs: transitive and separable is a little confusing for people learning English. They often make mistakes when using the object pronoun as the object, separating the verb and particle when they shouldn't or not separating the verb and particle when they should. The majority of transitive phrasal verbs with one particle in English are Type 3, separable.
There are two ways to help you know if the phrasal verb is type 2 or type 3:
- Look in a dictionary: Normally, dictionaries provide an example of the phrasal verb with an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, them) as the object. So, if the object goes after the particle in the example, it's inseparable and a type 2 phrasal verb and if it goes between the verb and the particle, it's separable and a type 3 phrasal verb.
- The sound: As a learner of English, you will have read or heard phrasal verbs many times in the past. So, you'll have an instinct about what sounds good or bad. It is recommended to say the phrasal verb with an object pronoun as the object both between the verb and the particle and then after the particle. You should trust your instinct and go with what sounds good.
So now do the below quiz to make sure you are using phrasal verbs correctly when you write or speak in English.