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    #1

    How can ESL students distinguish separable from inseparable phrasal verbs?

    My ESL students are learning phrasal verbs. I wish I could give them some rules or methods for distinguishing separable from inseparable phrasal verbs. Of course they do not see much difference between pick up and pick on. Frankly neither do I! Is a phrasal verb's categorization and use as separable or inseparable purely idiomatic/arbitrary?

    Thanks, Bob

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    #2

    Re: How can ESL students distinguish separable from inseparable phrasal verbs?

    They're like irregular verbs - students just have to memorize whether they're separable or inseparable. No rhyme or reason.

    I require my students to memorize that along with the definition. I've found the best way to re-enforce it is by writing sentences. It's immediately apparent whether they understand which ones are separable or not.

    What they seem to struggle with more is how pronoun objects have to be separated. They tend to sidestep the question of separability by just always choosing not to separate them. So, you'll probably have to focus on pronoun objects more.

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    #3

    Re: How can ESL students distinguish separable from inseparable phrasal verbs?

    And then there are the optionally and compulsorily separable verbs to consider. There are very few rules that can be worked out for this. Two-particle verbs tend to be inseparable, as do some particles like into, but this doesn't add up to much. and will be full of exceptions. It's a case for the dictionary and patience.

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    #4

    Re: How can ESL students distinguish separable from inseparable phrasal verbs?

    Thank you Skrej and Tdol. Your answers are what I expected but I had to ask since any kind of rule would be so helpful.

    Thanks again, Bob

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