Phrasal Verbs

The English language likes to tack a preposition to a simple verb and thus to create a verb with a different meaning. Verbs thus formed have been called by Logan Pearsall Smith, following Bradley, "phrasal verbs". This habit of inventing phrasal verbs has been the source of great enrichment of the language. Pearsall Smith says:

From them we derive thousands of vivid colloquialisms and idiomatic phrases by means of which we describe the greatest variety of human actions and relations. We can take to people, take them up, take them down, take them off or take them in; keep in with them, keep them down or off or on or under; get at them or round them or on with them ; do for them, do with them or without them, and do them in; make up to them; set them up or down or hit them off—indeed there is hardly any action or attitude of one human being to another which cannot be expressed by means of these phrasal verbs. — Words and Idioms. published by Constable & Co.

But there is today a tendency to form phrasal verbs to express a meaning no different from that of the verb without the particle —of saying meet with instead of meet, visit with instead of visit, study up instead of study; consult with instead of consult, check up, or check ip on where check would well and face up to where face would be enough. To do this is to debase the language, not to enrich it.

To measure up to in the sense of to be adequate to an occasion is the latest popular favourite; whether it will establish itself as a useful addition to the language remains to be seen.

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