Separable Phrasal Verbs
Separable phrasal verbs are transitive (they can take a direct object), and the direct object can separate the verb and the adverb (or preposition). If you encounter a new phrasal verb, there’s no way to identify it as separable. If you’re unsure, look up the meaning and usage in a good dictionary which gives examples.
I need to take back the shirt I lent you.
Where’s that shirt I lent you? I need to take it back.
In the first example, the object (the shirt) comes after the phrasal verb. In the second example, the object (it) separates the verb from the adverb. The phrasal verb has the same meaning in both examples.
The cloth is so thin you can see through it.
The project is difficult, but we have to see it through.
By separating see through, we change the meaning of the phrasal verb. In the first example, it means the cloth provides no barrier to sight. In the second example, it means the project needs to be completed.
Alice is sick today: call Catherine, and see if she can fill in.
Sorry I’m late; can you fill me in on what’s happened so far?
Wash this teapot out, please.
Wash out this teapot, please.
We heard you were feeling low, so we’ve come to cheer you up.
Cheer up! Life isn’t all bad.
Put on your coat and let’s go!
Put your coat on! Let’s go!
There’s no such thing as a man in the moon. Stop trying to put me on.