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What is a compound verb?

Every sentence needs a verb, but what is a compound verb? Without a verb, we cannot understand the aim of the sentence. Verbs describe our acts and purposes. Compound verbs are the form of a verb that is being constructed with the unification of multiple verbs. A compound verb actually has the meaning of one act, it is a single verb made up of more than one word.

If you see the difference between a single verb and a compound verb, everything will be more clear;

  • Sally washes the dishes. (single verb)Sally is washing the dishes. (compound verb)
  • I play the piano. (single verb)I will play the piano. (compound verb)

There are three basic forms of compound verbs, let’s learn them!

1) Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a multi-word verb which is made up of with verb and an adverb or a preposition.

  • Separable Phrasal Verbs

These compound phrasal verbs can be used separately in the sentence. The object may come after the following phrasal verb or it may separate the two parts.

There is one rule when you’re using phrasal verbs; if the object of the following phrasal verb is a pronoun, the two parts of the phrasal verb must be separated.


  1. She has to bring it up, they need to know what’s going on. (bring up- mentioning about something)
  2. I need to call this organization off due to my health problems. (call off- canceling)
  3. My friend didn’t give my pencil back. (give back- returning some object)
  4. I looked my exam paper over in the last minutes of the exam. (look over-checking and looking)
  5. You have to pick these trashes up from the ground. (pick up-lifting something)
  6. Our teacher put our exam off to another day. (put off-postponing)
  7. She turned my offer down. (turn down-rejecting)
  • Inseparable Phrasal Verbs(Transitive)

It is the inseparable form of phrasal verbs that you cannot separate the ‘meaning giving verb’ and the other part of the phrasal verb. It is not that complicated; if you put a pronoun and another between them, the meaning will be disappeared.


  1. I am going to look after my brother while our parents are abroad. (look after-taking care of something or someone)
  2. We should go over this paper again. (go over-reviewing, checking)
  3. She is looking into the situation for founding a solution to this problem. (look into- investigating)
  4. I ran into my old friend from high school in the street yesterday. (run into- meet, coincidentally meeting)
  • Three-Verb Phrasal Verbs

There is no rule about these phrasal verbs, they consist of three words with prepositions, verbs, etc.


  1. You should get rid of this dress, it is ugly. (get rid of-throw away, eliminate)
  2. I cannot keep up with your actions. (keep up with-maintain pace with)
  3. I’m looking forward to seeing you again! (look forward to-waiting, exciting with pleasure)
  4. I checked up on my brother if he’s doing his homework or not. ( check up on-looking, examining)
  5. Sarah and Andy get along with each other at work. (get along with-having a good relationship with someone)
  • Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

These phrasal verbs are not followed by an object.


  1. Our washing machine has broken down. (break down-stop functioning)
  2. My brother used to drop by to my apartment every morning. (visiting without appointment)
  3. I usually get up early in the mornings. (get up- waking up, arising)
  4. It was enough, but she went on explaining the situation. (go on-continue)
  5. She has many talents and she likes to show off. (show off-boasting,displaying)

2)Verbs with Auxiliaries

An auxiliary verb is called ‘a helping verb’ too. They are used with the main verb to express the main verb’s mood or tense. The most common auxiliary verbs are; ‘to be’, ‘to have’ and ‘to do’.

Also, modal auxiliaries are in this group too. For example; ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘will’, ‘ would’, etc.


  1. Sally was walking at the beach today.
  2. Jack should wash the dishes.
  3. My brother would study abroad if he gets the scholarship.
  4. You must follow the rules.
  5. They were running in the forest before they dropped by to our cabin in the woods.
  6. I will meet your sister, but you have to be patient.
  7. I may come to your beach house when the winter is over.
  8. I should study because there is one week for my math exam.
  9. I would buy a new nice dress if I make better money this month.
  10. I can run faster than anyone in my class.

3) Single-word compound verbs

This is the form of a combination of multiple words. Both words would be verbs or one word would be a noun or a descriptor. We can use a hyphen in some situations while using these single-word compound verbs.


  1. I am going to babysit my little sister tonight.
  2. You can test-drive this car before you bought it.
  3. You should air-condition this room.

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