Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Understanding Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs are an essential part of the English language, covering a large variety of verbs. Assimilating them into your vocabulary can take your English to a higher level. Therefore, identifying and understanding them is a crucial step in improving your English skills.

Definition of Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and one or more particles (a preposition or an adverb, or both). The meaning of a phrasal verb often deviates from the verb it contains. A non-separable intransitive phrasal verb is a type of phrasal verb where the verb and the particle included cannot be separated.

To be more specific, an intransitive verb is a verb that does not need an object to complete its meaning. Therefore, a non-separable intransitive phrasal verb cannot take an object and the verb and particle can't be separated.

Identifying Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Identifying both non-separable and intransitive in a phrasal verb may sound complex, but with some simple guidelines, it becomes a pretty straightforward task. Phrasal verbs like "wake up", "give up", "go on", "come back", "run out", "show up", and "sit down" are good examples of non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs. Observe that you cannot put an object between the verb and the particle.

Correct Usage of Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

Comprehending the Context

It's essential to comprehend the context in which non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs are employed. For each non-separable intransitive phrasal verb, the complete verb carries a specific meaning, which may differ greatly from the original verb.

Example: If we take "wake up", the verb "wake" might infer "to stop sleeping", but when used with the particle "up" as "wake up", it becomes a command or request for someone to stop sleeping. Therefore, the context in which the phrase is applied holds key significance.


One major rule to remember when using non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs is that the verb and the particle cannot be separated by an object or any other words. They must always come together in the same phrase.

Example: "I need you to wake Michael up." is correct usage, while "I need you to wake up Michael." is incorrect.

Common Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

One of the most effective ways to develop your understanding and application of non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs is familiarizing yourself with the most common ones. Examples of widespread non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs are:

  • "Give in" (to surrender)
  • "Break down" (machinery stops working)
  • "Run out" (to have nothing left)
  • "Go on" (to proceed)
  • "Come along" (to accompany)
  • Practicing Non-Separable Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

    Active Reading

    Active reading is a wonderful way to observe and absorb non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs in application. Use resources like novels, articles, blogs, and more, by paying tad more attention to the phrasal verbs used and the context they are applied in.

    Application in Writing

    Practice using them in your sentences when writing. This not only enhances your understanding but also improves your usage and flexibility in incorporating them into daily English language usage.


    Non-separable intransitive phrasal verbs may seem daunting at first but, with correct understanding and ample practice, they can be mastered with considerable ease. Get comfortable with them because they can often carry much deeper connotations than their simple verb counterparts, thereby allow you to express yourself with more precision and profundity.

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